How to design a collaborative space

/// This post is written by Andrea Paoletti

From seven years experience of collaborative space design, it is clear there are four key steps in the creation process: insight, ideation, making and evolution.

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Taking into consideration the interaction between space, people (those who are involved in creating it), experiences (the result of interaction between spaces and people) and tools (to make things happen), there is a basic guide that can be observed when designing a co-working environment.


This advice applies no matter the size or location of a co-working space and has been used in the development of The Hub spaces in Milano to Oaxaca (Mexico), San Francisco to Bari.

The traditional image of co-working is an office space with tables, chairs and computers. But this physicality, teamed with a branding of “collaborative space” does not guarantee that it will be a comfortable or dynamic place where people and ideas come together.

It is necessary to create an authentic experience of connection and inspiration.

Co-working spaces should be a place where users are free to mingle, make, think and build without boundaries.



Making a design fluid and elastic is critical in ensuring a prosperous future. Co-working spaces are rarely “finished” as they should constantly evolve with the changing face and needs of the community.

One of the core values of Impact Hub co-working network is to learn by doing and so members are invited to participate in co-creation sessions and to tap into the broad spectrum of ideas and perspectives within the community. This way the community can forge its unique identity together and in turn, a personality for the space.

HUB Stockholm (3)

Co-design requires different roles to be filled to guide the process; a facilitator to drive the process, an impulse team to spur new directions and ideas and a maker team to translate concepts into actualities.

The maker group often consists of architects, electricians, plumbers, members, designers, artisans and DIY lovers who bring together their expertise to build the space physically.

The environment should comprise eco-local materials with thought directed toward each surface and structure. Using materials in an unconventional way or breaking the rules of what a material can traditionally be is one way to inspire the community and show through example that opportunities can be realised by thinking outside the box.

Raw materials are authentic and timeless and also show a spirit of sustainability.

The space needs a variety of atmosphere and ambient spaces in order to work, connect, relax and enjoy and spaces should be adaptable through the use of sliding partitions, wheeled furniture, lightweight materials and creative lighting.


Developing a fluid space where people can work closely together helps to build trust while allowing flexibility to achieve the day’s projects.

Rather than having people anchored to one territorial space they are free to move, connect and share with others who can help them reach their goals.

Simplicity and light are also important to increase visual communication and free-flowing creativity.

We would like to get in contact with realities (clients or not) interested in these topics and begin new work and collaborations. If you are interested, write to us at


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