Case-Study 1 | Insight / Consultancy

The Collective: Evaluating the performance of a co-living space in North London

Co-living spaces provide people with the opportunity for chance meetings, and foster social encounters that have become less likely as our lives and cities are increasingly intertwined with technology.

By embracing the full-service boutique hotel offer, property developers can provide high quality spaces at affordable prices. However, co-living can be challenging for tenants who often rent small studios, which are difficult to socialise in and have limited storage options.

The problem

The Collective is a pioneering property company that specialises in developing and operating co-living schemes. It describes itself as a platform that provides young professionals with access to the city.

The firm prides itself on giving its tenants a remarkable living experience. On receiving feedback from tenants that the studios in its property at Old Oak were too small, it acted quickly by commissioning Human City (in partnership with University College London) to get to the heart of why tenants were dissatisfied.

The considerations

The Collective was keen to gain a deeper understanding of how people use and interact with each other in the purpose-built space at Old Oak, in order to:

    • Make improvements to existing spaces and services at Old Oak in Acton; and
    • Use this understanding in planning meetings regarding new developments in London and elsewhere.

The company wanted insight into the nature of communal living, and the importance of the layout of the building, size of the studios and storage options. It also wanted general feedback on the quality and relevance of its services.

The implementation 

In the first phase of the research, we lived and worked in the building for one week. We analysed existing data, interviewed staff, and walked in the footsteps of tenants. We recorded and shared their perceptions and activities.

The Collective used our insights and strategic recommendations to:

  • Change the design and layout of the studios and communal areas, particularly those that were under-utilised, such the Secret Garden, in order to bring higher returns;
  • Share information through community newsletters and include residents in decision-making through meet and greet sessions, in order to attract and retain long-term tenants; and
  • Develop a more sophisticated digital technology strategy, particularly in relation to the mobile app and smart living, to improve customer satisfaction ratings.

The Collective used our findings to explain the design and layout of new co-living schemes, particularly in its engagement with the Greater London Authority.

The benefits  

The Collective has gone from strength to strength. The company used our insights to improve the design of subsequent buildings in the UK and around the world.