Wireless communication technology has drastically changed the way we work in the last couple of decades -- and it's bound to change the dynamics of how we live as individuals and in a community as well. Case in point: the rise of co-working and co-living "hubs" that cater to a growing population of so-called global nomads, estimated to balloon to 1 billion digital nomads by the year 2035.
Zoku in Amsterdam is one of these hubs, which we covered a couple of years back. Billed as a live-work hub for location-independent professionals who might stay to work remotely for longer periods of time, the location offers "hybrid" micro-lofts geared toward these longer-term residents. We get a more in-depth video tour via Fair Companies:
One of the interesting things we learn is that Zoku is located on what was once voted one of the "ugliest" streets in Amsterdam. Zoku, in partnership with global co-working bigwig WeWork, has since transformed the office building it occupies, creating a popular new destination for global nomads to take up residence, anywhere from one night to three months. Working with the municipality, the building's existing roof has been converted into a living green "glasshouse" that guides residents to the communal dining spaces.
But the company deliberately shies away from labelling itself as a 'hotel' -- it's more fluid than that. As Zoku co-founder Marc Jongerius explains:
Zoku is a Japanese word it means family, tribe or clan. I think we're one of the first hotels in the world to have a community manager on the payroll and their only job is to connect residents.
To promote that sense of community, shared spaces generally have communal tables for working and socializing. The dedicated co-working space also has shared office equipment like a printer and a 3D printer. There are also workshop rooms for more formal business meetings or private working sessions.
As we showed before, Zoku's micro-lofts (sized 25 square meters or 269 square feet and up) have been designed in a way that promotes a sense of 'home' for digital nomads, yet allows them to work, socialize and hold business meetings in the same space as well (and even exercise, thanks to those gymnast's rings right in the middle). The design -- from the retractable ladder to the integrated bike closet and under-bed desk -- is ingenious. Says Jongerius:
We used basically every cubic centimeter of the loft. We spent 5 to 6 years really getting all the details right. We started by doing 150 interviews with people from the target audience. The research that we did we hear from them that if they stay in a self-catered apartment they lack the social space, they lack contact with people. This is what we created upstairs.
That's one of the big drawbacks of the digital nomad lifestyle: a sense that one is going at it alone, even as it's being balanced by the thrill of travel and engaging with places in a different way, compared to a tourist who may only pass through somewhere for a much shorter period of time. So it's encouraging to see that places such as Zoku are emerging out of the woodwork, not only rehabilitating underused buildings and revitalizing neighbourhoods, but also giving nomadic professionals an option to find a place that they can call home, a community they can take part in (if they want), and a place to be creative and productive at the same time. Given the way we live and work is changing so fast, it's likely we will see many more live-work hybrids like this popping up in cities around the world. To see more, visit Zoku.