Networked Cities: Coworking Spaces
New Spaces of Innovation: The emerging landscape of workspaces in the (omni)presence of technology

Work environments are changing. The digital era has enabled new spaces of innovation. People are increasingly picking up on the notion of coworking spaces, but how do they fit within the greater context of the emerging work environment? Spaces that support hackers, coworkers, collaborators and incubators all fit within a similar network, especially within the modern city landscapes. As students of the Institute of Design in Chicago, we have taken a closer look at these new spaces of innovation to inform ways of thinking about the evolution of the workspace.

Networked Cities, Fall 2012  •  Guide: Laura Forlano  •  Team: Aashika Jain, Keta Patel, Kuni Saso, Priyanka Marawar, Chia-ling, Minji Kim, Paul Sheetz and Stephania Sini.

Research and Analysis:

11 Innovation Spaces
5 Coworking spaces: 1871, COOP, Next Door, Enerspace, Workspring
1 In-house innovation lab: McDonalds
2 Hackerspace: Pumping Station: One, Milwaukee Makerspace
3 Design Consultancies: GravityTank, IDEO, IdeaMomentumt

67 Hours of Observations  •  9 researchers  •  24 interviews

EPIC 2013 London PetchaKucha Submission

Work environments are changing. The digital era has enabled new models of work and life. People are increasingly gravitating towards new work environments, but how do these spaces fit within the greater context? Spaces that support collaboration, cooperation and collective innovation adhere to a similar network, especially within the modern metropolitan landscapes.

In collaboration with a leading furniture company, our student team methodologically involved ourselves in relevant spaces around Chicago. Entrepreneurial incubators, innovation labs, media labs, living labs, coworking communities and hackerspaces provided grounds for our design research. While ethnographic research, qualitative interviews and secondary research methods enabled the collection of rich user data and context to test our hypotheses.

As a result, we formulated a short list of congruent themes that sought out to codify the reasons why these spaces foster the creative minds of the future.

  1. Permeable Boundaries (allow easy flow of ideas in and out)
  2. Mental Shift (change the frame of mind by changing space, time location and people you meet)
  3. Self-motivated Learning (an urge or enthusiasm for acquiring new knowledge)
  4. Symbiotic Relationships (an equal mind share, give and take knowledge)
  5. Permanently Beta* (the continuum of incomplete, no definite start or end)
  6. Do-ocracy (hands on, un-structured and proactive)

* Neff, Gina and David Stark, “Permanently Beta: Responsive Organization in the Internet Era,”