While we’re not all working out of Mom’s garage, many of us can relate to startup life in less-than-optimal conditions. When you’re starting out, running water, electricity and (obviously) wifi are about the primary benchmarks for somewhere you can set up operations – heck, it’s part of the charm. More than once, we’ve had someone enter our office, look around appraisingly and exclaim, “Waouh, c’est un vrai startup!”, which we choose to take as a compliment.
But startup culture has also become synonymous with an aspirational lifestyle, one that everyone can have access to for an afternoon here and there thanks to slick coworking spaces that are popping up in every major startup hub. You can expect any given space to conform to the same achingly hip, glossy standards that promote creativity and productivity – if this is startup life, no wonder all the cool kids want to hang out here.
The high bar that was set by Silicon Valley startups, the cult of the envy-inducing workspace – let’s face it, more playground than office – has been embraced by startups all over Europe too. We look at the loveliest offices in Europe where beanie hats and Vans are considered appropriate professional attire:
The Lisbon-based student housing startup is HQ-ed in anything but student digs. Having closed a € 22 million round last November after expanding to nine different markets, Uniplaces moved into their frankly splendid office inside Rossio Station, designed by Portuguese architect José Luis Monteiro in 1890. The Uniplaces office was designed in a contemporary style which respects the heritage of the historic building, with a resulting space that is both modern and cozy. The open plan office features a suspended relaxation area ping pong tables and living walls for an airy, soothing workspace that we want to move into immediately.
This incubator and coworking space has fast earned its reputation as one of the most desirable places in London to set up camp. With a whopping ten properties (this time last year they had only three) in prime locations around town, WeWork’s model of free coffee, slick design, an emphasis on craftsmanship and a communal, collaborative vibe make for an irresistible formula. Want in? Join the wait list with the rest of us :/
Impact Hub, Madrid:
Self-described as “Part innovation lab, part business incubator, and part community center”, Impact Hub is a unique concept in the Barrio de las Letras. The building is split into three lofty, self-contained spaces that accommodate lectures, workshops, training programs, meetings and large-scale events. Impact Hub is a more an ecosystem than a workspace, boasting a community of 11,000 entrepreneurs in 70+ locations.
My Little Paris, Paris:
The lifestyle webzine’s Montmartre office occupies a renovated carousel-repair workshop – that’s right, “carousel” as in “merry-go-round”. As you’d expect, the building is seeping in charm and history, but repurposed for occupational use over five floors. The loft-style industrial architecture features stone walls and a glass roof with a view of the Sacré Cœur, so its occupants no doubt feel fully immersed in their little Paris.
De Burgemeester, Hoofddorp:
The centerpiece of the entire building is the enormous, angular wooden staircase that occupies the whole atrium and branches off into bridges and walkways to the shared office spaces of the upper floors. “The staircase as a tool for communication lends the building a collective identity… As a vertical lobby that offers views of all floors, it tells occupants that they are part of a larger world” say the architects. The open plan design, concrete finish and huge windows keep the space bright and minimalist.
Talent Garden, Milan:
Open-plan: check. Lots of glass/metal/wood/concrete: check. Beanbags: check. Foosball: check. So far, your typical coworking space; but this is Milan, so property boasts, among other things, a café, an aperitif area, a garden and an outdoor rooftop pool. Brb, ciao a tutti.
The cloud-based presentation startup must be doing pretty well: their offices are housed in – wait for it – a palace. Seriously. Prezi has made its home in one of Budapest’s most famous historical monuments, the Merkur Palace. A vast open-plan space with vaulted ceilings, enormous windows and greenery throughout, this light and airy space feels more like a greenhouse than an office.
The cellular structure of this dated 7-storey office building was knocked through to create the open-plan headquarters of e-commerce company Zalando. The plan was designed to facilitate both organization and flexibility: for instance, a color code is used to define different working areas, while its three multi-media conference rooms can convert into a 160 m2 event venue. The industrial-style office features artistic installations and a lounge/bar area with a view of the Spree waterfront, the Oberbaum Bridge and the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Know any cool spaces we should check out? Put them in the comments below – we’re always up for inspiring field research 😉