This week sees the world’s largest ‘co-living’ scheme – The Collective – open its doors to prospective tenants in North West London.
Described by the cynical as glorified halls of residence, the 323-unit development is also being celebrated as a positive, eco-friendly and modern response to the housing crisis and rapidly evolving work culture within the city.
With rooms going for £1,083 a month for a tiny ‘twodio’ – snugly furnished with a double bed (for single living or very friendly roomies), private bathroom and access to a shared two-hob kitchen unit – it’s not hard to see why the scheme has raised a few eyebrows in the residential sector.
However, many young, urban professionals are tired of renting out expensive rooms in shoddy flat-shares, with little or no communal space and at the eternal mercy of unscrupulous landlords.
What The Collective, and many similar housing projects emerging in our global capitals offer, is a modern and stylish lifestyle boost, alongside an old fashioned sense of community.
The complex not only addresses the growing trend for mobile working with large communal spaces and ‘co-working offices’ that can accommodate 400 people, but also included in the price are WIFI, electricity, community charge and cleaning bills. Tenants can also make use of bookable dining rooms, a library, cinema, spa, sauna, games room and roof garden.
Selling community spirit
Located in Old Oak Common, boasting a view of the Willesden Junction railway freight yards, The Collective’s 500-bed tower has yet to inspire ‘postcode envy’ but it is well located for the arrival of Crossrail which will open a new station there in 2019. Currently, residents can reach Oxford Circus in 30 minutes.
All living and communal spaces have a ‘boutique’, minimalist design which will appeal to a ‘generation rent’ tired of threadbare carpets, temperamental boilers and 70s kitchens. In fact, The Collective’s communal kitchens all have themes, including a French Bistro and English Gastro Pub.
Another bonus will be an ‘affordable’ on-site restaurant, which will add to the community buzz the project aspires to.
Tenants are expected to be like-minded professionals – perhaps in their first few years of salaried work – so the ‘campus’ feel will not be unattractive to recent graduates looking to make new connections in the city.
Although not exactly addressing the deeper issues of affordable housing, The Collective is an appealing scheme that offers a happier alternative to the often fraught environment of a cramped flat shared with random strangers.
Short term trial
Anyone wishing to try out The Collective’s lifestyle can opt for a month’s residency this summer before signing up for a nine or twelve month contract.
Live-in Community Manager, Joanna Bucur sums up the spirit of The Collective and why she chose to live and work there:
‘For me, co-living means sharing, knowing your neighbour and working as a team… knowing that at any point in the day or night you can get the support and help you need and you’re not isolated by cold staircases and locked doors. For me, I know that whatever I decide to do, my work will always be much more valuable when shared with other people. So why not add that value to the way I live as well?’