Central Working is a network of shared workspaces allowing young businesses to thrive and grow at an organic pace. Having established a successful portfolio of properties in London, the company is looking to expand across the UK. Reading, as a knowledge economy hotspot with proximity to London and excellent transport connections, was a natural choice.
The company wished to convert the ground floor of the recently constructed R+ building into attractive, design-led coworking space along the lines of its existing premises. Area was a good fit for the task, partly through familiarity with the R+ building and its landlord, but mostly because of the good working relationship established with the client on previous successful projects, such as Central Working Victoria.
Central Working has developed its brand and workspace template in partnership with architects Kinnersley Kent Design (KKD). Having worked with KKD and the Central Working project team on the City, White City and Victoria offices in London, we understood our client’s design values, standards and expectations. KKD designed a creative, welcoming and flexible space tailored to the needs of start-up enterprises, combining office areas suited to different styles of working with communal lounges, breakout spaces, meeting rooms and catering facilities. Our task was to convert the architect’s drawings and specifications into a practical, buildable solution, covering everything from structural design, HVAC and technical services to procurement. Unlike typical corporate offices, the layout of the working areas needed to be fluid and dynamic. Walls, partitions and furniture had to lend themselves to reconfiguration, allowing occupying businesses to expand organically. The communal spaces had to be distinctive and inviting, both to impress potential members and encourage existing ones to meet, chat and support each other. The collaborative nature of the project allowed us to add value to the space, enhancing the quality and sophistication of the design and helping the brand to evolve. The project had its challenges. In an environment like Reading, with strong competition from other coworking providers, it was essential to complete the works as quickly and efficiently as possible, enabling the client to begin generating revenue. Certain quality standards had to be achieved within a tightly controlled budget. In addition, we were required to solve various technical problems, such as the need to construct a second fire exit in the building façade without detracting from the look and feel of the building.
Chris Stewart, Project Director at Area, commented, “Our established relationship with the client and KKD, combined with our experience, technical expertise and excellent, long-standing supply chain, enabled us to deliver a worthy addition to the Central Working portfolio – a success that is set to continue as Central Working continues to expand across the UK.”