An American company is to open the largest co-working space in the world at London’s South Bank as the demand for flexible, shared office space surges.
We Work, which has more than 100,000 members in 44 cities worldwide, has signed a deal with Almacantar, the British property developer, to take 280,000 sq ft at Two Southbank Place, which is under construction near the Thames and is due to be finished in September.
The site, near Waterloo station, is the subject of the largest leasing deal made in London this year. The building is part of the £1.3 billion redevelopment of the former Shell Centre taking place behind the London Eye.
The privately owned, New York-based company, which is valued at $17 billion, has been at the forefront of revolutionising the once-mundane world of serviced offices into hip operations that come with perks such as artisanal coffee and beer on tap, quirky furniture and pool tables, as well as networking events, fitness classes and communual spaces that allow businesses to swap ideas. Despite We Work being best known for offering space in a communual office buildings that entreprenuers and small start-ups can rent by the month, or even the hour, it has also attracted large companies, including Microsoft, Dell and KPMG.
The business has 15,000 members accommodated in 14 buildings in London, with another four to open this year, and it plans to create space in South Bank, its key hub for innovation and ideas, to include more technical offerings than usual, such as 3D printers, laser cutters and machinery needed to develop product prototypes.
Two Southbank Place will be joined by One Southbank Place, which set to be the headquarters for Shell International’s downstream business.
Almancatar bought the site for the two buildings for £550 million from Braeburn Estates, a joint venture between Canary Wharf and Qatari Diar.
Mike Hussey, chief executive of Almacantar, which also owns the Centre Point tower in London, said: “We Work is an admirable brand and the perfect occupier for Two Southbank Place. The commitment from Shell and We Work at Southbank Place support our conviction that Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar are creating one of the highest-quality mixed-use projects in central London.
“A cross-section of London’s office occupiers are adopting the co-working model as a way of managing costs and generating new business simultaneously. It is a growing part of the office-letting scene and will get more popular as better and larger facilities open in accessible locations like Waterloo.”
Eugen Miropolski, Managing Director of WeWork Europe & Israel, said: “London represents one of WeWork’s most vibrant communities in the world, and, in a show of strength and commitment to our second largest market, we are announcing our largest location worldwide here in London.”
He added: “This new location will be a base for UK businesses as they grow, foreign companies that want to come to the UK, and major corporates seeking to integrate into our innovative community.”