The Hub

hub.bmpI took part in an open evening at The Hub on Thursday. I ran a couple of sessions using improv to explore how people can connect to generate new ideas. It was a joy to be involved; the space is inspiring and so are the people involved.

The Hub is as its website puts it

3174 square feet of derelict warehouse transformed into an incubator for progressive ideas. A place for getting things done. All the tools and trimmings needed to cultivate an idea launch a project, host an event and operate a business. Our intent. To generate possibilities. Our approach. To connect people who make things happen.

I’m going to be using it as a workplace some of the time, as well as hosting some events there.

It’s intended to be much more than serviced offices for small busineses. But if you consider it only in those terms, it is – I think – innovative.

Most serviced offices in London depress me. They give tenants their own little rabbit hutches and use of shared facilities, usually with a lot of “add on” costs, rather reminiscent of hotels where you can hardly move without being sold something ordinary at a fancy price.

The thing is, a lot of entrepreneurs may think they want their own space but I get the sense that most business centres are lonely places.

The Hub is open plan, based on hotdesking. Result: each enterprise uses less space saving money for everyone AND a more friendly, collaborative atmosphere is created. You might think it’s too noisy; in fact it’s feels quiet and purposeful. It reminds me of the spirit that Open Space creates. Folks can collaborate brilliantly within simple structures where the intention is good. When there are fewer rigid boundaries, folks will usually create rules of thumb for sharing space that are way more creative and satisfying.

There are some cool design features too, so that the place is eco-friendly. AND the result is some very simple design that makes it low cost (financial and environmental) and fun to work in.

One brilliant thing they’ve done is to set up a meeting space which is only partially partitioned off from the rest of the space. The result is really interesting; it has the integrity of a proper meeting area, and feels connected to the world, not cut off and isolated as so many meeting areas do. It sounds like a mad idea – you might think there would be no sense of privacy – but it really works in practice. The sense of privacy doesn’t come from the walls, it’s a felt experience connected to the spirit of the place. It’s hard to explain but if you visited you’d get it.

Again, there’s the paradox: we think we need rigid boundaries but porous ones can be way more enabling.

3 thoughts on “The Hub

  1. Jeff Risley

    Johnnie,

    I would love to attend your first Open Sauce meeting in the UK, however, a quick trip to London just isn’t in the cards. You HAVE TO do this in the states, too, and I’d be happy to host you somewhere cool in Kansas City.

    I checked out The Hub’s Web site, and it’s amazing. Was it featured in Fast Company once? Made me want to create something like it in KC. In fact, our agency will be moving soon, and seeing The Hub gave me a great idea for how we might use part of our new space.

    Reply
  2. Johnnie Moore

    Hi Jeff, thanks for your enthusiasm. If you get the venue, James and I will be up for it. I’m looking for excuses to do some speaking/facilitating in the US!

    The Hub is pretty new so it hasn’t been in Fast Company, though they have covered other creative spaces. Glad it’s been an inspiration to you. If you’d like to chat with them, let me know.

    Reply
  3. hugh macleod

    “Again, there’s the paradox: we think we need rigid boundaries but porous ones can be way more enabling.”

    Funny, this paradox reminds me of classic Clay Shirky (one of my biggest heroes).

    Basically, Shirky’s idea is: when creating any kind of social group… be it a company, an online forum, or nation state, there are two basic rules:

    1. Too much coercion, it dies.

    2. Too much freedom, it dies.

    What Shirky suggests is that any successful group has a healthy tension between corercion and freedom. I would cite the USA as a good example of this. It does value freedom, so much so that it willingly creates rather coercive tools to preserve it (as anyone who has ever been pulled over by a highway cop in Texas will tell you).

    Go read “A group is its own worst enemy” over on shirky.com:

    https://shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html

    Reply

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