Curating the “Third Place”? Coworking and the mediation of creativity

Julie Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Coworking spaces (CWS) and the associated practice of coworking, have emerged in numerous forms and various
urban contexts to critically challenge traditional concepts of the workplace and location of creative work, while
simultaneously confronting the way in which creative workers interact with and relate to each other as well as
with space and to place. Heralded as a solution to increasingly atomised work patterns, CWS are imagined and
presented as spaces of serendipitous encounter, spontaneous exchange and collaboration. Nonetheless, little is
known about how coworking positively supports workers and how coworking relates to wider urban transformation
processes has been largely un-researched. This paper contributes to a critical discussion through empirical
analysis of a project aimed at establishing new creative CWS in city-centre locations across SE England. The
study adopts a novel approach using Q-methodology. Motivations for coworking and benefits (or dis-benefits)
of co-location are assessed, as is the extent to which coworking facilitates interactional effects and wider neighbourhood
interactions. In particular, the role of the CWS manager as “mediator” is explored. Coworker benefits
relate primarily to peer-interaction and support rather than formal collaboration. While CWS managers play a
key connecting role, also ensuring coworker complementarity and compatibility, the coworker profile (motivations,
needs, experiences) ultimately influences outcomes. The study cautions against the use of CWS as “quick
fix” urban renewal tools, with little indication that the benefits of coworking reach beyond immediate members
or that linkages are easily established between coworkers and local (resident or business) communities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeoforum
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Apr 2017

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co-worker
mediation
creativity
manager
worker
urban renewal
city center
indication
workplace
resident
methodology
interaction
community
experience

Cite this

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Curating the “Third Place”? Coworking and the mediation of creativity. / Brown, Julie.

In: Geoforum, 07.04.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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