Co-living refers to housing models where individuals have a private housing space, but also have access to a range of communal facilities such as shared living areas, dining spaces, gyms, gardens and cinema rooms. The private housing space would be a self-contained flat or house, or, as has recently been the case in co-living developments, a micro-studio flat or room. The types of communal facilities on offer can also vary, catering for a range of budgets.
Recent years have seen the emergence of small rooms/studios in co-living spaces that can be rented in London, and other global cities like New York, through organisations such as The Collective, Roam and WeLive, all of which we have written about before in previous issues of PIN. In this article we will talk about trends emerging in the industry, much of which was discussed at a recent co-living conference in London at the end of June.
Fulfilling the need for increased density
Stuart Scott, director at Co-living Spaces, did the opening talk at the Co-living Super Conference at the end of June. I ask him what he spoke about. “I was talking about the changing customer in the sector and the evolution of shared living accommodation from HMO to co-living. At the conference we also spoke about the issues of loneliness and the need for more social interaction, which are both big issues at the moment, and how we are moving towards a subscription economy.
“There is also a need for increased density when building new homes, which is exactly what co-living spaces are. Whatever we do now, as we build for the future it is about improving density while also improving peoples lifestyles. The problem in the UK is we have got a hangover from the HMO industry, unlike in the US where co-living simply evolved from the co-working sector. So when applying for planning, developers have to educate local councillors that co-living is about building a community.”
Regarding planning permission, Stuart says that another problem is the fact that co-living does not have its own classification and he tells me that one well-known co-living company is using a hotel classification to simplify the process. Going back to the recent conference, he says: “The general feeling is that the co-living market is starting to gain traction and there has been a big drive towards a customer driven model that is all about brand recognition. There was also a lot of talk about modular building techniques.”