On Thursday October 11th to Friday, October 12th, Co-Liv, a do-tank whose mission is to empower the co-living ecosystem worldwide hosted their second annual summit at the Les Grands Voisins in Paris, France as a central hub to spark interests, hold conversations and share knowledge of co-living as a sustainable form of living in today’s global community.
With over 200 participants worldwide hailing as far as Brazil and Taiwan, the summit hosted over 20 sessions in just over 2 days. Workshops and roundtable discussions included topics such as “How to make sustainable co-living structures?”, “Co-living as an enabler for the new digital economy”, and “How to design for permanent beta communities.” Speakers and attendees included London’s The Collective; global co-living community, Roam; and WeWork, the brainchild behind the co-working space, WeWork.
Check out our exclusive coverage with the Co-Liv’s Co-founder and Executive Director Claire Flurin:
The Knockturnal: What is Co-Liv and why was it created? If one was interested, what is the best way to get involved?
Claire Flurin: Co-Liv is the professional association for the co-living industry. In other words, it’s a central knowledge hub and ecosystem for professionals of this industry. Our governance is collaborative and our non-profit mission is to help the development of more shared living spaces around the world aiming at increasing quality of life. The organization was properly launched in November 2016, when my co-founders and I realized that before investing our energy in this industry, entrepreneurs wanted to learn more about it. That’s why today, (i) we think, we aggregate, generate and share content; (ii) we connect, that’s our primary function, we’re a network; and (iii) we create, we help people assess the relevancy of co-living for their own context and we help them grow. Joining is super easy, you just need to sign up on co-liv-lab.mn.co
For those interested in supporting the organization financially, our premium membership is worth €15,000. It gives access to our knowledge and directory, it allows you to ask us for expert help on your projects and makes you a member of our Board of Directors.
The Knockturnal: Why did you decide to host the summit in Paris?
Claire Flurin: Haha, great question! Paris was a little bit of a bet because there were no existing co-living operations when we decided to host the Summit there. However, co-living had been in every conversation there for a while and we knew that the Paris market was boiling for co-living projects. Our intuition proved right since organizations such La Casa, Sharies and Colonies have announced great developments since then. As for next year, we currently accept applications from any venue and/or organization willing to host us!
The Knockturnal: Many believe the market only attracts a young & nomadic millennial demographic, would you refute this claim; what are the statistics showing?
Claire Flurin: I would yes! Obviously the young and nomadic demographic is the easy target. They’re “lean” family-wise, their priority is to be where their job is, they usually want and need to make friends. However, co-living is much broader than that. For me, shared living is a suitable option for anybody in need of one or several of the following: affordability and better access to quality housing, mobility & flexibility, people & a real support system. With that in mind, it becomes clearer that co-living can be a solution for a wide variety of people: a consultant who travels the world for work, a single mother who needs practical help every day, a divorcee, empty-nesters, a young senior citizen who has no intent to go into a retirement home, etc. The architecture firm Bond Society has shown that the average co-liver is over 35, with ages ranging from 7 to 70.
The Knockturnal: How do you believe the ecosystem will transform over the next decade?
Claire Flurin: There are a few structural difficulties in the process of developing co-living currently:
a- investment: financiers currently look at co-living through the commercial lenses, and they see it as a long-stay hotel, or through the residential lenses, and they see it as a well-managed, well-branded rental property. Often times, co-living is neither or, especially if you want to achieve sustainability, affordability, and flexibility. Co-living is a hybrid asset class and I believe the investment community will take ownership of that finding in the near future.
b- regulations: whether it is land use, construction codes or tenant laws, most legal systems do not reckon co-living as a proper way of living. There are ways to work within the current system, but a true collaboration between policy makers and co-living experts could help legitimate this lifestyle.
c- operations: even though co-housing has a long history of strong community building, co-living has almost track record. This means that we don’t really know how well – or poorly – co-living companies manage their operations. I hear a few people here and there work on creating platforms to support those operations. I am hoping one of them allows for the smooth management of any mom-&-pop co-living home. To me, that’s a smart decentralization of management is definitely part of the future of co-living.
But in the end, it all comes down to the definition of housing and how it will evolve to match our lifestyles.