Collaboration in the Inner City

Future Joburg (1)

by Dino Mavrokordatos

A freelancer is defined as someone who is self-employed and hired to work for different companies on specific projects. That sounds all good and well, as the individual is free to work their own hours and determine their own path towards success. However, there is an underlying stigma that most will bomb out and will be forced to work full-time in a company that is uninspiring and repetitive. It is wise to recognise that this has changed- many entrepreneurs are trading the lonely lifestyle for something with more substance.

As of recent, a very welcoming trend has been knocking at our doors. This trend is in the form of collaboration and knowledge sharing. It has been understood by many that by bringing everyone together it will allow us to move forward as a society, without leaving anyone behind.

Shared workspaces allow freelancers, creatives, freethinkers and start-up business owners to improve their standing by integrating them into an environment with endless possibilities. The opportunity starts with a business accelerator network which gives one access to a database of companies and individuals who are members or affiliations of the association. Martin Ruef, a sociologist at Princeton who studied entrepreneurs, found that those who broadened their universe of contacts from small groups of familiar acquaintances to larger, more loosely-connected networks of people were far more innovative. We need this overflow of innovative thinking for us to enhance the way we see our inner-city. For far too long the Joburg and Cape Town city centres had been avoided, but in recent years the changes have been miraculous. Presently, there is a movement of people flocking into the inner city; either for a chilled day out or more permanently to live and work. The urban retreat is now a place to run free, a place where a new South Africa has been born. An optimistic side of me looks at these regenerated areas of the Joburg CBD and sees the future of our nation. For this reason alone, I see the significance of these collaborative workspaces in the city centre. A prospect that we need to take seriously if we want to see the transformation flourish. What a great opportunity for us all to work as a cooperative to do far more than we ever could on our own.

The benefit of having these spaces in the city is that they cater to a vast ordinance and attract interesting individuals from opposing forces. These forces would encourage a wide range of industry to move back into the city- it is already happening. This surely will stimulate the economy by increasing local trade and appealing to major investors who will help the city to maximise its potential, at a steady rate. Furthermore, the well-designed spaces all have one thing in common- not only do they function as a productive workspace, but also a space to share ideas and challenge norms. This is a fundamental fact that is assisting in our upward progression. We live in a highly interconnected kingdom and we should make the most of the diversity to provide all South Africans with a city life that we are all proud of.

Johannesburg example:

‘OPEN’ is a collaborative city workspace that taps into the trend of innovation. This carefully designing landscape includes advanced lighting and partitioning technologies. With a variety of work settings it allows people the flexibility to be productive in an inspiring ecosystem. ‘The Hook-up Dinner’ is a fabulous example of how this collaborative arena can contribute towards a successful network for passionate entrepreneurs. Below is a video from one of the evenings-

The Hookup Dinner

Cape Town example:

ICIC is the ‘InnerCity Ideas Cartel’ which is more sophisticated that inspired. This space makes its members ooze confidence, as it contains furniture by designer Monya Eastman of Stokperd. It does its job by improving productivity, opportunity, and co-working. The founders have built an ethos on following ones dreams, which motivates its members to work after hours- just because they want to succeed. By having the web address, the ICIC team has definitely done their bit to create a professional image for all its associates.

Inner City Ideas Cartel 1

Inner City Ideas Cartel 2

Dino Mavrokordatos is a Design consultant with a degree in Interior Design and a foundation faze MBA. His passions include: social innovation, urban rejuvenation, food and art (BA InteriorDesign | PDM )