24 May 2018

This vibrant co-working space in Bengaluru was once a movie theatre



WeWork: A Game Changer

WeWork has laid its claim on the co-working space in a big way. With more than 230 locations across the world, the company has tapped into a burgeoning market, stayed ahead of global trends and at the same time, kept itself relevant to the local landscape. WeWork’s first flagship in India launched last July, in Bengaluru, and was followed by four additional spaces—three in Mumbai and one in Gurugram. While standalone co-working spaces have long since dotted the Indian landscape, the New York City-based multi-national is definitely here to change the way the game is played.

“At WeWork, we see ourselves as a global company with a local playbook,” the company’s Creative Director for India, Francois Gramoli, tells AD in an email interview. “Whether we’re designing a WeWork in Bengaluru or Sao Paulo—we focus on creating opportunities for community and collaboration through good design.”

WeWork: Movie theatre to Co-working Space

WeWork Galaxy was the brand’s first Indian flagship in Bengaluru, and was later followed by a space in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex. Taking over the iconic site, which had gone from being a theatre in the late 1970s to a shopping complex in the early 2000s, was no mean feat—but as is the case with most brownfield projects, the challenges proved to be the design team’s greatest asset. “The goal for our team was to create a space that felt open yet communal and intimate for members and guests,” Francois explains. “Once we took over the building and saw the five-storey ground floor atrium space, we could see the potential; WeWork Galaxy had to become a truly vibrant co-working space for our members.”

Large community spaces can sometimes encroach on the sense of privacy and individual space, but the team made sure they balanced out the large “stadium seating” spaces with smaller corners where people could tuck themselves away. A deeper colour palette in certain sections helped keep the space grounded and warm.

Challenges to Triumph

Another of WeWork’s quintessential design features is natural lighting; the Galaxy Theatre’s coffered ceilings made access to daylight a little difficult. But the team managed to work around it. “Our designers got creative and included some sculptural lighting elements to counter the lack of natural daylight.” And in the vein of challenges proving to be assets in disguise, Francois add, “It also activates the space with an architectural element, and really makes it a special place for our members to gather.”

In addition to the workspaces, WeWork Galaxy boasts a number of health and wellness facilities, including a rooftop pool. “The fact that we had access to the roof, meant that we had to do something special,” writes Francois. We decided to turn the roof space into an urban oasis with a pool. We designed a series of cabanas on one side to provide people with relief from the sun, but the pool is where the action is at. It’s a stunner with custom tile work, and definitely adds a ‘wow’ factor as our first WeWork in India.”

Bridging Cultural Moments

Co-working spaces thrive on shared values and inter-company synergy—the idea is to give people the freedom and independence of working alone while benefiting from the opportunities for interaction and networking. A large part of this means bringing moments of cultural commonality into the space; making people feel recognised and relevant. “We saw an opportunity to have fun and find ways to balance the experience between the opulent Indian aesthetic with WeWork’s casual, down-to-earth vibe,” Francois elaborates on the team’s decision to include custom artwork in the space, some of which was created in collaboration with the St+Art India Foundation.

“Inspired by the kite-making festivals and the wheel of India (Ashoka Chakra), our design team created a lightweight LED ring structure with silk yarn fabric. This actually creates a dynamic and subtle pattern that changes as you view it at different points over the atrium space.” A playful neon sign that reads “Do the Needful” is the Art and Graphic’s team’s cheeky nod to the typically Indian phrase.
Shifting Landscape of the Co-working Space

People Work Better, Together

While co-working spaces catch on world over, we ask Francois what WeWork’s position is in this shifting landscape. “We can’t really speak to what draws people to coworking spaces, but what we can say is that what people want out of their work is changing significantly,” he explains. “People want to work on projects they’re passionate about in an energetic environment where others are also working hard to bring their ideas to life… By offering a collaborative community where members can feel safe in both success and failure, we hope to attract the entrepreneurs and innovators of India so that they can build the next great companies.”

WeWork has certainly tapped into a paradigm that has, and potentially always will, hold true for a flourishing society. Whether the spaces are occupied by individual freelancers or entire companies, the principle is the same—people work better, together.

Source - AD 

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