Strategic insights from our team helped this client refine their design, and engage more closely and cooperatively with local planners.

Co-living is swiftly emerging as the next ‘big thing’ in the real estate industry. The agile living arrangement it offers not only keeps living costs down, but also helps simplify the logistics of living and working in a large city.

The problem

A small property developer and operator specialising in hostel accommodation wanted to enter the growing co-living market. They had identified an East London site where they planned to build 60 units and shared facilities, including a community cafe-cum-entrepreneurial hub.

But they knew very little about the local key workers who were their target market. Insight into their particular lifestyle choices would be essential to shape the co-living offer and set the scheme apart from their competitors. They also needed advice on how to refine their design to meet key workers’ practical needs.

The considerations

Potential tenants were invited to express their interest by email. But they needed more in-depth insight so we ran a series of interactive workshops with community groups, local residents and potential tenants. We also interviewed end-users and spent a day walking in their footsteps.

We took their requests and translated them into design principles for our client, which were then used to shape their strategic brief. Architects short-listed for a Royal Institute of British Architects design completion used our principles to create their design concepts. Bedü also shared our insights with planning officers to demonstrate how the scheme would deliver sought-after social value.

The implementation

With our help, Bedü:

  • Got on the inside track with planning offers and learnt which alternative residential schemes had previously succeeded in the area and which had failed;
  • Built up trust with local councillors and residents, ensuring that the scheme would be accepted by the community rather than being seen as an ‘island’;
  • Understood design challenges such as managing access and security, and assessed solutions such as designing separate access points for public and private residents; and
  • Established areas — including the popular East London Community Garden Trust — where they could both gain value from potential partners and give it in return.

The benefits

Our insights enabled Bedü to:

  • Optimise space usage to increase rental yield whilst ensuring a positive customer experience;
  • Balance the requirements of both tenants and local residents in order to build brand reputation; and
  • Develop a strategy to include tenants in the management of the property, potentially through a mobile app.