Archive for the ‘Innovation Commons’ Category
Last night was the first open house for Indoor Playground, the new coworking office space that’s opening up on Richmond in the next month or so. Actually, I’m not sure that the Indoor Playground is going to have a slide, though that would be cool. It does look like it will have lots of other good stuff, particularly a really nice space and interesting people doing interesting stuff.
I’ve been waiting and hoping for a coworking space to happen in Toronto for pretty much the whole year I have been Hogtown Consulting, working from my home office. Then two come along at once.
As timing works out, I’m very close to signing a lease on some office space in the soon to expand Centre for Social Innovation at 215 Spadina, just around the corner from Indoor Playground. So really I don’t need any more office space right now. But, I really love the idea of Indoor Playground, so I’m considering signing up for one of their very reasonable usage plans, perhaps off-peak plus one day a week, to be part of that community.
If the conversations I was in on at the open house were anything to judge by, this is going to be a really cool space to work in. Smart, engaged and at least slightly nerdy people who want to get stuff done. Plus the space is great, Jane Jacobs would approve I think (“Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings”).
I’m definitely going to be checking out the space, particularly as the price list looks much more affordable than an earlier iteration I saw.
I have an application in and my fingers firmly crossed for a space at the the very close by Centre for Social Innovation (215 Spadina, pictured), but spending some time in both of these spaces might be a good way to enjoy being part of two exciting communities. Anyway, being spoilt for choice in affordable and inspiring coworking space in Downtown Toronto is not a bad problem to have.
I’ll let the creators of this previously stealthed idea speak for themselves:
Recently out of a passion to have a shared workspace for entrepreneurs, innovators, and geeks in Toronto we ventured out and leased a great space at Richmond and Peter… It is basically about 2000 sq ft plus an additional mezzanine floor (the gallery). It is on the 5th floor (top floor) of an old brick and beam loft. The view of the city is outstanding and thankfully there is enough light to avoid florescent bulbsâ€¦
[from Creationstep, who are making this happen]
Indoor Playground is a next generation workspace based in the downtown core of Toronto. It is a home away from home for the entrepreneur who needs an office space on occasion. It helps to solve the problem of having a place to work when you are on the road or when you just want out of the house. Indoor Playground provides a good-looking and creative space populated by other great people worth meeting. It is the perfect solution for new start-ups and independent innovators who are looking for a professional yet affordable way to scale their business.
[from the official Indoor Playground site]
I’m going to be watching closely to see how this unfolds. To me the option of a cool space to work in around interesting people doing interesting things sounds pretty great.
I’m going to quote Jane Jacobs, to give my post a sense of weight it probably doesn’t deserve. “Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.”
I was talking to a friend tonight about Innovation Commons in Toronto. They were totally into the concept and stressed the importance of the place and particularly space, as criteria for deciding if IC might be a place for them “nice building, big windows” were the specified criteria I think.
Of place and space, place is perhaps the easier to specify. We know IC needs to be downtown, on a good transit line etc. Space, in my mind, relates to the feel of the place, it’s more difficult to define, but I think just as important as place.
I can provide a counter example though, what doesn’t feel right to me in terms of space though. In the same conversation The Toronto Writer’s Centre came up. Basically TWC is a space in Yorkville which is an IC for writers, I hadn’t come across it before. To be rather brutally critical, judging by the photos on the site the TWC space is the exact opposite of something I’d want to invest time, money and effort in being part of (which is fine, as I’m not a writer so they wouldn’t want me). Grey cubes and boring lowest common denominator ‘architecture’ were one of the things I was glad to get away from when I left the Ontario government. Now a space like the 401 Richmond Centre, for example, if IC found a space with that feel I’d get my cheque book out in a second.
I realise this stuff is very subjective, and everyone has different priorities and preferences, but it seemed worth throwing into the pot while this thing is bubbling.
Note: probably this belongs on the innovation commons site but 1) It feels rather personal, so posting it to my own blog makes some sense 2) It’s late and I couldn’t figure out how to link and format on the Drupal install (it says you can use HTML, but you can’t).
I’m going to be talking about this stuff further in other posts, but first things first, what are third places and coworking?
Third places exist on neutral ground and serve to level their guests to a condition of social equality. Within these places, conversation is the primary activity and the major vehicle for the display and appreciation of human personality and individuality.
My understanding of a third place is that it’s a place not work and not home, literally a third place, where important, but often undervalued, social and community stuff takes place. I’m only a couple of chapters into the book so I may well be wrong.
A natural extension of a cafe, the ideal co-working space has the usual offering of coffee, meals, snacks. In addition, the co-working space has a communal area with wired and unwired internet access, for use with personal laptops or provided desktops. There are group work areas and more private individual workspaces.
There are quiet phone booths for making important calls and bookable meeting rooms for business meetings or creative sessions. There is an ambience of creativity, professionalism, community and ambition. Entrepreneurs, international travel writers, business owners and CEOs all in the same space, making connections, working creatively with as much or as little contact with one another as they desire.
There are some obvious parallels between these two ideas, and they both play strongly into a conversation that seems to be developing in several places right now. More on that conversation in later posts.
This is a re-post of a piece I originally posted on the, soon to be defunct, original Wireless Toronto blog. I thought it was worth saving as it plays right into an interesting conversation about third places in Toronto that is taking place right now.
The Aula community describe themselves as ‘a nonprofit cooperative that encourages professionals and enthusiasts from various fields to develop new projects together â€” for more innovative art, science, and technology, and for a better world, future, and quality of life.’
I came across them through an article about the Hunaja (Finnish for Honey) project. The Aim of this project is to ‘create an access control system for community spaces that enables users to stay aware of others in the space remotely by using the Web or a mobile phone’
What really interested me about this project is that Aula have actually built a real, interesting physical space [pdf] using some of the principles they are researching. The plan calls for public sitting areas, small private cubes for projects, semi-private meeting spaces, multi-purpose event space and even a sauna (these are from the planning document, I’m coming up light on links to what they actually built).
This struck a particular cord, because I have been thinking about interesting public/semi-public spaces in Toronto in the context of possible locations for Wireless Toronto hotspots – and really there aren’t all that many that I find really compelling. The Aula example seems like a Third Place that I could really get behind. Toronto branch of Aula anyone?