Tablescapes: Hospitality Space Turned Coworking 

Maragaret Marsh / 2018
Yale School of Architecture

“…The scarcity of urban space is artificial. It’s a product of outdated ways of thinking. We’ve never been more technologically empowered, yet we continue to make buildings productive for less than 50% of the time, where demand for space exists 100% every day.”

With the rise of easy technology and the increasing need to densify, spaces are layered in new and unprecedented ways. Economic and social factors are driving people to share more, use less, and spend efficiently. These ethical and fiscal decisions filter through our lifestyles. Some are driven by the financial benefits of sharing and some by the environmental, social or collaborative effects that come from a sharing-economy lifestyle. Thus, the cultural focus has shifted from individuality to communality. What this has created is a type of 24-hour use or a “24-hour space” - everything must be optimized at all times.

The greatest example of this layered phenomenon has been through the rapid growth of Airbnb, where one’s home is constantly being used or monetized even when vacated by the resident. We can find other examples in new forms of ridesharing or even older models like the local co-op grocer. However, in some cases, everything must be everything. That is, users are not the only ones sharing space - uses have begun to “flip”. Spatially, using spaces for multiple programs could otherwise be described as the dissolving of boundaries, corrosion of difference or flattening of use. More traditionally, we can view this through the lens of densification.

Contemporary examples of these 24-hour spaces can be found in an abundance of industries and uses. The most intriguing of which is the restaurantslash-coworking space - where office activities, food and curated atmospheres collide. High end dining spaces that lay dormant during the day have struck the interest of work-sharing services. Enter service companies - who have begun to outfit these underutilized spaces with wifi, coffee and ambient noise during the regular 9-5 window. In doing so, these services have created an entirely new landscape for the remote worker as well as the gig economy at large. This paper aims to focus on the hospitality space as co-working location as a case through which to inspect the “flipping” phenomenon of a “24-hour space.”

In order to accurately understand the physical, sociological and logistical landscape this co-working phenomenon operates in, it is critical to inspect the context. Firstly, the urban context of New York as a hyper-dense location conducive to the flattening of programmatic boundaries, the smoothness of metropolitan life and densification present in the layering of space. Secondly, the social context of today’s flexible labor in the gig-economy. How does coworking in hospitality space stabilize (or de-stabilize) the unpredictability of opening a restaurant or working freelance? And finally, the spatial context of restaurant atmosphere, equipment and consumption. Or, the formalizing of the Third Space.

In addition to these contexts, three comparable hospitality as co-working companies will serve as specific analysis: Spacious, KettleSpace, and WorkEatPlay. Each of these spaces does similar operations in New York City, but each emphasizes slightly different characteristics. Rather than determine the general success or failure of the restaurant as coworking space, this paper aims to explore questions that surround these aforementioned contexts. How has the way we densify space changed? How has the way we worked changed? How can we operate these spaces simultaneously? Switch them? Use them? Understand them?

Image from Life Magazine’s “Real Estate Number” issue of March, 1909. As published in Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas, 1994.

Urban Context

We have seen and continue to see the densification of urban landscapes epitomized by New York City. Rem Koolhaas defines “Manhattanism” as “…the one urbanistic ideology that has fed, from its conception, on the splendors and miseries of the metropolitan condition - hyper-density - without once lost faith in it as the basis of a desirable modern culture. Manhattan’s architecture is a paradigm for the exploitation of congestion.” [1] Its unique qualities, characteristics, and opportunities make New York an appropriate location in an inspection in the rise of smoothness.

The transformation of programmatic friction to smoothness in the urban landscapes creates a unique territory that facilitates free movement between activities. In Liquid Modernity, Bauman Zygmunt describes this in tandem with the human agents’ freedom. [2]  “…Rigidity is the overall product of ‘releasing the brakes’: of deregulation, liberalization, ‘flexibilization’, increased fluidity, unbridling the financial, real estate and labour market, easing the tax burden…of the techniques of ‘speed, escape, passivity’ - in other words, techniques which allow the system and free agents to remain radically disengaged, to bypass each other instead of meeting.” [3]  These sentiments of motion, slippery-ness, and unstoppable kinetic disintegration both power and dissolve our social networks. [4]

A type of layering, compressing, and wrapping has always been present in the architecture of New York City. In Delirious New York, Koolhaas defines the “globe” as a building type, which serves as a good example of what has evolved into the 24-space phenomenon. The globe is defined by an effort to capture maximum interior with minimal exterior. [5] And while this description is largely directed at a literal tectonic relationship, we can see this typology extending towards the capturing of maximum interior program. Furthermore, Koolhaas describes the lobotomy as the disruption of the connection between facade and interior. “…Less and less surface has to represent more and more interior activity.” [6]

The compression of program into a single wrapper, and the legibility of that activity has long been ascribed to the skyscraper. A type of streamlined vertical interior, the skyscraper has traditionally been the social condenser [7]  or city under a single roof. [8] However, what we see now is that the vertical height of tall buildings isn’t a requirement for contemporary programmatic compression. Spaces and their various uses can been flattened, smoothed and corroded no matter how horizontal or vertical. A type of “smooth congestion” [9]  where “a particular site can no longer be matched with any single predetermined purpose.” [10] It is within this framework of densification (and its social and economic drivers) that we can begin to completely re-imagine the concept of “the office,” the daily routine, and how we perform work in an urban environment.

“The Globe” as published in Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas, 1994.

Social Context

The sociology of the workplace is a complex case due to its overwhelming presence in our daily routines and lifestyles. It is where we spend the majority of our time and where we develop significant cognitive and emotional growth. And our tendency to hold our work at arms length has dramatically changed. Currently, the workplace is looking evermore like all of the things that were once outside of it - almost entirely due to technological innovation. “The development of electronic communication and information systems allows for an increasing disassociation between spatial proximity and the performance of everyday life’s functions: work, shopping, entertainment, healthcare, education, public services, governance, and the like.” [11] Thus, the office can be considered not only in how the workplace is used for work, but how it is used for play.

The insertion of recreation and comfort into the office has masked the number of hours in a timesheet and calories of emotional stress, dissolving traditional or formal boundaries between coworkers and ties to the workspace. As seen through many tech companies, the office is now also a gym, a daycare, a canteen. And in the case of some Silicon Valley headquarters, it is even a doctor’s office, a hairdresser, a bowling alley and more. The compressing of these spaces leads to a work-life that is more similar to a home-life. The argument being, that if work is more similar to somewhere you’d want to be all the time, then your work becomes easier. Your life outside of work doesn’t have to start when you leave the office.

However, on the flip side, your work doesn’t have to stop - either. The idea of a 24/7 space or 24/7 user or space “…renders plausible, even normal, the idea of working without pause, without limits.” [12] In his book 24/7, Jonathan Crary goes as far as to say that such an environment “has the semblance of a social world, but it is actually a nonsocial model of mechanic performance and a suspension of living that does not disclose the human cost required to sustain its effectiveness.” [13] The effects of boundary-less relationships between work and home can evoke a variety of responses, all of which point to the dramatic rise and development of flexible working.

The newfound solidity of co-working as an industry is captured in strange instances port forth by committees, groups and councils. The Co-working Manifesto has accrued 2,356 signatures since 2012 - complete with a mission statement: “We believe that society is facing unprecedented economic, environmental, social and cultural challenges. We also believe that new innovation are the key to turning these challenges into opportunities to improve our communities and our planet.” [14] A list of values and a Code of Conduct also accompany the site, promoting this style of work. Similarly, the Global Co-working Unconference Conference has gathered a large presence. A series of lectures and gatherings worldwide attempt to keep up with an industry that is exploding in scale. “With more than 10,000 spaces around the globe (and more on the way), the $1B co-working industry is here to stay, and it’s only getting better. Curious about how it all comes together and redefines the way humans work?” [15]

The benefits of a collapsed or smooth coworking space have made it so that any type of worker can work anywhere. “The changing nature of innovation, including the acceleration of convergence, is leading to the transformation of spaces where separate professions and disciplines more easily mix.” [16] So much that “innovation spaces are blurring in distinction.” [17] We can read this either as an intensely open network of options, a blank canvas - or one that has been completely muddled. In either scenario, a new type of space has unlocked the potential for a reimagining of the daily routine - as exemplified by the gig economy worker.

“Approximately 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have left the relatively stable confines of organizational life…to work as independent contractors.” [18] Notably, this work-scape has actively helped to mollify the “loneliness epidemic” experienced by the gig economy. [19] In combating the struggles of isolation and independence, freelancers have been shown to adopt common strategies that make connections to four elements as identified in a study by Harvard Business Review: place, routine, purpose and people. [20] The locations in which people choose to work are crafted to “protect them from outside distractions and pressures and help them avoid feeling rootless.” [21] Moreover, routine is implemented to “enhance focus and performance.” [22] The notion of leaving your home everyday for another place is still important and is in-line with more traditional practices of employment. However, it’s the experience of the place that has dramatically changed.

Apart from added or altered programming, the design of most contemporary offices has shifted tremendously away from anything that has come before it: Taylorism, the Burolandschaft or even the Action Office. [23] And yet we see a semblance of old office types compiled into today’s “creative office space”. That is, there’s a little bit of everything. And in doing so, the new office space acts almost as an archive of office styles. It is casual, it is formal. It is open, it is closed. It is active, it is lackadaisical. It is music, it is white noise. Most importantly, you can have it any way you want it: with couches, closed offices, outdoor work areas, or sound-proof phone booths.

Unsurprisingly, tech offices best exhibit this hyper-personalization - fueled through a variety of layouts and equipment. It is almost as if mixing and matching any of the elements according to your comforts will unlock your true productivity. And yet there is a separate, more subtle kind of productivity manipulation at play: the chance encounter. [24] Endless options of furniture and amenities encourage different types of interactions between employees, most commonly centered around kitchens or cafes. These spaces have been the subject of current workplace research and are considered to be “the heart of the innovation space.” [25] In some offices, there is even a deliberate efforts to provide different varieties of food in separate kitchens so that employees are encouraged to circulate between floors. [26] Food in tech offices has developed into such a prolific role that it has even drawn the national attention of the IRS. [27]

Finally, it is important to note that this phenomenon is not new. A long social history between work, creativity, food and drink illustrates how the cafe setting has long served as a hot bed for intellectual activity. Turn-of-the-century Parisian cafe culture led the model in proving the power of innovating in food space. This was first formalized into the “Third Space” by Starbucks, and has since been adopted, copied and praised by creative companies that seek to foster a casual environment. The aromas, materials, noises and visual qualities of a cafe are seen to inspire creative collaboration - pushing in every way to be the antithesis of the stale cubicle and its mundane, repetitive work associated with it. Ultimately, the coffee-shop-as-workplace has put the “water-cooler effect” on a pedestal. [28]

Co-working companies that occupy restaurant spaces search specifically for establishments that are well designed and have a high level of interiority. [29] Things like location, service, and the equipment available also determine how these restaurants are disguised as offices. Three NYC-based co-working services will serve as the basis for an inspection into the qualities, economies and logistics of this transformed space. Each of the three companies (Spacious, KettleSpace and EatWorkPlay) perform very similar operations and their public perceptions are, in reality, an iteration on the same idea. And while their operations are almost identical, it is through their unique marketing strategies we can begin to see how a new economy has emerged within the office landscape. An analysis of financing, language and use attempts to explore the satiation of a market need through an emphasis on delivering streamlined and comfortable experience.

The barrier to entry for most hot-desking opportunities is the price. Compared to most conventional co-working options, each of these hospitality spaces are very affordable (see chart). At $250-$500 per month both WeWork and the average coffee shop are almost double the cost of Spacious, KettleSpace, and WorkEatPlay. The key to their low prices have to do with the minimal infrastructure or “asset light” opportunities put forth by utilizing hospitality spaces. [30] Ultimately, this taps into the easy infrastructure of a restaurant space and the available equipment. Office space and co-working space have ample common ground, found mostly in the furniture - seating and surfaces.

And while co-working can take advantage of many things already in the space, what is added by these co-working services is flexible, malleable and often, not even physical: digital wifi and liquid coffee. Descriptions of the wifi are critical and present themselves as the unique cant-live-without quality of the service. While Spacious describes theirs as “insanely fast,” the other two prefer “blazing fast.” But is it also this digital infrastructure that helps to differentiate these hospitality based co-working locations from the average coffee shop. “We consider fast internet as important as breathing. We’re not talking about coffee shop WiFi here” and “We’ll text you a link to access the Spacious WiFi network, which is fast enough for video conference calls. We wouldn’t recommend trying a video conference in the average coffee shop.” [31] Or - “With KettleSpace, all of these coffee shop problems go away…your internet won’t buffer just when you’re finishing up that project.” [32]

“Environmental Tolerance Zones.” Source: Henry Dreyfuss and Associates, The Measure of Man (New York: Whitney, 1960). as published in Harwood, John. “The Interface: Ergonomics and the Aesthetics of Survival.” In Governing by Design: Architecture, Economy, and Politics in the Twentieth Century, 70-92. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.

While the idea of working in foodspace was born from a phenomenon of monopolizing coffee shops, these services want little to do with that history and market themselves as having solved all relevant problems. Each of the three companies harps on the inefficiencies of the coffee shop. The outlets, the noise, the wait - the unpredictability. Watching the clock, finding a power outlet, waiting in line, protecting your stuff. There is only one service that even mentions how this benefits the restaurant. WorkEatPlay notes “Not only do we get to help you grow your business, but we also get to help the venues we work with grow theirs. It is truly an ecosystem where everyone wins.” [33] This acknowledgment brings about a curious phenomenon of recognizing - or not - the space for what is it.

Curiously, most of the companies don’t overly advertise the restaurant status. Rather than focusing on what the space is - they boast more about what it isn’t (ie. the coffee shop). This trend speaks to some of the barriers that still exist within the smoothness of today’s metropolitan landscape. There is a certain formality or mode of communication embedded in the restaurant space - one that is not as democratic as the coffee shop. Attempting to disassociate the customer-style relationship of dinner service, while also maintaining the reliability and comfort imbued in hospitality space produces certain challenges.

We can see this laid out in physical format when it comes to the treatment of food in this foodspace. Spacious boasts the use of Seamless or UberEats, or ordering from a special “small plates” menu at any locations where the kitchen is open. [34] WorkEatPlay prohibits outside food: “We humbly ask you not to… because you’re working out of an amazing restaurant and you really should work your way through the menu too. The last thing we want is someone eating their homemade refried chili con carne—we hope you agree!” [35] And KettleSpace is the only service to offer unlimited snacks, although nonspecific. The variations in these responses reveal some of the instabilities and inconsistencies in this spatial typology.

Some kitchens will be open, some will not. Some will allow outside food, some will not. Some will open at 9AM, some at 10AM—with similar trends in closing hours. The operations of the permanent space (the restaurant) exhibit a ghost-like quality over the co-working space, in varying degrees. Which begs the question, can we truly flip one space into another? Can we seamlessly switch between programs? Or will traces of each always emerge? Or, perhaps, this tension comes from the important similarities these two types of programs share. That is, are they too close in character to ever eradicate the other?

Ultimately, the common denominator between restaurant space and co-working space in the equipment and ergonomic functions of the table and chair. In an open space, tables and chair act as an open plan office. In a private dining room, they become part of a board meeting. The work of Mumford, Neufert and Dreyfuss all left a mark on how this equipment fits the body. [36] Attempts to “humanize” design, make work more productive, or mechanize the body all left their marks on the evolution of the body’s relationship with a chair and a surface. It is there two items, with complicated and layered histories unto themselves, that accommodate a shift in activity—not the space itself.

In a way, we can begin to see the table or the surface as the room itself. The details, items, and collections that occupy that space begin to dictate how the space is being used. At 10AM, a laptop, notebook and a coffee. At 10PM a plate, napkin and a cocktail. Furthermore, all of the “stuff ” on a surface dictates atmosphere. A laptop plays music, a hot plate of food delivers scent. The tapping of a keyboard, the clinking of a glass. The dual uses of a single space are difficult to pull apart, interchangeable in their details, and prone to leaving traces. Thus, what set out to be an inspection of a space that “flips” in indeed a space that “flows” - one where the transition between the two is blurry. The shoulder times between the work day and meal service are, in fact, not confined to a particular window. The hum of one is always in the background of the other.

“House Organisation: Division of space, from one room dwelling to palace.” Source: Ernst Neufert, Architects’ Data, edited and revised by Rudolf Herz, translated by G.H. Berger et al. (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1970), 39. As published in Harwood, John. “The Interface: Ergonomics and the Aesthetics of Survival.” In Governing by Design: Architecture, Economy, and Politics in the Twentieth Century, 70-92. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.

References to the Coffee Shop


“Coffee shops are unpredictable. They’re noisy, they’re crowded, and there’s no guarantee you’ll have usable wifi, a clean bathroom, or even a seat. Seats with convenient access to outlets are so rare they border on mythical. Even if you do happen to hit the café-workplace trifecta—seat, amenities, outlet, wifi—the moment you sit down, the imaginary clock by which you must measure how long is socially acceptable for you to hunker down and work, inevitably begins to tick. Not mention if you do stick around for a while, you’ll inevitably need to get up to go to the bathroom, but who is going to watch your stuff?”

“KettleSpace gives you predictability and peace of mind. With KettleSpace, all of these coffee shop problems go away. By partnering with spaces that are already built for long stretches and adding in our own muscle, you can rest assured that you won’t have to pay for coffee, tea, or snacks ever again, your internet won’t buffer just when you’re finishing up that project, you won’t have to hover awkwardly next to that one seat with an outlet, you won’t have to ask the stranger next to you to watch your things while go to the restroom, and you certainly won’t have to wonder whether there will be a seat available for you in the first place.”


“You’ll look back and laugh at all the meetings you had in coffee shops—and in some cases, wish you can time travel to re-do them in a Spacious location.”

“We consider fast internet as important as breathing. We’re not talking about coffee shop WiFi here.”

“As soon as you walk into Spacious, you’ll notice a world of difference compared to a coffee shop.”

“Never deal with awkward first time meetings in a crowded line for coffee.”

“We’ll text you a link to access the Spacious WiFi network, which is fast enough for video conference calls. We wouldn’t recommend trying a video conference in the average coffee shop.”

“At a coffee shop, there’s always an obligation to repeatedly consume something, just to keep your seat. Not so at Spacious.”

“You can only buy so many lattes before they kick you out.”

“Plus the coffee’s free!”

“Enjoy unlimited coffee & tea, power at every seat, and wifi that’s light-years faster than at your local coffee shop (and incredible peace and quiet!).”



“We are guests in the space, so be sure to put used dishes into the dish bins and recycling and trash in the appropriate receptacle.” “Our community is a collaborative one, so we encourage you to introduce yourself to other members. That said, use your best judgment if someone looks like they would rather not be disturbed. For instance, headphones on is typically a signal that “I’m in the zone.””


“Can I bring food from the outside? We humbly ask you not to… because you’re working out of an amazing restaurant and you really should work your way through the menu too. The last thing we want is someone eating their homemade refried chili con carne — we hope you agree!” “What if I wanted to print, take a phone call, or have a private meeting? Certain locations are outfitted with printing capabilities, phone-friendly zones, and private conference rooms. You can see which additional services are available per location by filtering out additional services. workeatplay members can easily and quickly connect to the printer over wifi.”

Terms of Space

Only Provided by KettleSpace:

3. Use of Spaces. If you use the Spaces, you agree to be bound by and comply with any additional terms, conditions, and policies provided by the owner, tenant, and/or property manager of the Spaces (the “Space Owner”) relating to the use of a specific Space, including compliance with building security procedures and IT access and use procedures (collectively, the “Venue Policies”). The Company and/or the Space Owner may record your activity in the Space for the purpose of your and other members’ security. The Venue Policies may be provided in electronic format through the Website or in hardcopy format. While you use a Space, the Company and/or the Space Owner will provide the following services: (a) exclusive use of a workstation within the Space; (b) furnishings, including work space and chairs; (c) access to shared internet connection; (d) heat, air conditioning, electricity, and bathroom facilities; and (e) beverages, including coffee, tea, and hot and cold water, condiments, and light snacks. Reasonable measures will be taken to accommodate larger groups of paying members. You acknowledge that the Spaces will be shared spaces, and that the Space’s personnel, other KettleSpace users, and their guests will use the Space simultaneously with your use. The Company will use commercially reasonable efforts to enforce this Agreement with respect to KettleSpace users, but assumes no responsibility for the actions of such users, of their guests or of the Space’s personnel. You understand that neither the Company nor the Space Owner is responsible for any property you may leave behind in a Space. You further agree that: (i) you will only use the Spaces for lawful purposes; (ii) you will not use the Spaces for any illegal or inappropriate purposes, including gambling, prostitution, pornography, sexual activity, drug or human trafficking, money laundering, drug use, alcohol abuse, violent or threatening behavior, bigotry, bullying, hate speech, or any other purpose reasonably likely to reflect negatively on the Company or the Space Owner; (iii) you will not violate any local, state, or federal law or regulation; (iv) you will not smoke or vape in the Spaces; (v) you will not light or allow any candles, incense sticks, or open flames in the Spaces; (vi) you will not use the Space in a retail or whole sales, or other capacity involving frequent visits by members of the public; (vii) you will not disparage, dilute, tarnish, or otherwise harm the Restaurant or its relationships with its customers in any way; (ix) you will not compete with the business conducted by the Restaurant; (x) you will not solicit, induce, or encourage the Restaurant’s employees or contractors to terminate his, her, or their relationship with the Restaurant; (xi) you will not impersonate any person or entity or falsify or otherwise misrepresent affiliation with any person or entity; (xii) you will not engage in any disruptive, circumventive, abusive or harassing behavior; (xiii) you will not access, tamper with, or use any non-public areas of the Restaurant (including the bar, kitchen, basement, office, and storage areas); (xiv) you will not violate the privacy or intellectual property rights of others; (xv) you will not make excessive noise in the Spaces, or create any noise or conduct any other activity which would, in the Comany’s judgment, disturb other persons in the Space; (xvi) you will follow all additional regulations regarding the Space as may be communicated by the Space Owner, or through the Website, posted signs, or otherwise; (xvii) you will not use the Spaces for sending or storing any unlawful material or for fraudulent puposes; (xviii) you will not have mail or packages delivered to the Spaces unless given prior express written consent by an officer of the Company; (xix) you will not install, remove, or modify any fixtures, equipment, machinery, or appliances in the Spaces; (xx) you will not damage, injure, deface or destroy the Spaces or anything in the Space and understand that you may be held liable (and do hereby authorize the Company to charge you) for the replacement or repair cost for all damage to the Spaces and items therein during your use thereof; (xxi) you will not use the Spaces to cause nuisance, harassment, annoyance or inconvenience; (xxii) you will not impair the proper operation of the Spaces and will not try to harm the Spaces in any way whatsoever; (xxiii) you are responsible for leaving the Spaces in a clean and tidy condition; and (xxiv) you will leave the Spaces at the end of the rental period or as otherwise directed by the Company or the Space Owner. You further acknowledge that your use of the Spaces does not create a lease between you and the Company or the Space Owner, but is rather a limited, revocable, non-exclusive, non-transferrable, contractual license on the terms of this Agreement. In its sole discretion and without limiting any of the Company’s other rights hereunder, the Company may restrict your access to the Spaces in the event of fraud, trespassing, illegal activity, or violation of any of the terms of conditions of this Agreement.


Work Eat Play:

Termination. WorkEatPlay may terminate your access to all or any part of the Website at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately. If you wish to terminate this Agreement or your account (if you have one), you may simply discontinue using the Website. All provisions of this Agreement which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity and limitations of liability.


Termination. The Company may terminate your Account at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately. If you wish to terminate this Agreement or your Account, you may simply discontinue use. If you wish to terminate a paid subscription, you must notify the Company before the end of the applicable subscription period. All provisions of this Agreement which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity, and limitations of liability.


Termination. Spacious may terminate your access to all or any part of the Website at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately. If you wish to terminate this Agreement or your account (if you have one), you may simply discontinue using the Website. All provisions of this Agreement which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity and limitations of liability.

Productivity Tag-Lines

Work Eat Play:

“Don’t work alone”

“Full Restaurant Menu and Staff -no minimum spend”

“By consolidating one remote worker into a network of millions, we incentivize restaurants to repurpose some of their daytime spaces for work.”

“It’s not just a workspace, it’s a lifestyle.”


“Our collaborative atmosphere encourages synergistic connections”

“Make the city your office.”

“With unlimited passport access to every space in our network, the city is yours. A convenient space to get things done, wherever you are.”

“Our collaborative atmosphere encourages synergistic connections.”


“The days of having a single desk at a single location are gone. Welcome to the future. Enjoy the freedom of seamlessly checking in and out as you bounce around town.”

“Our hospitality staff ensures there is plenty of coffee and tea available.”

“Your desk is creativity’s worst enemy.”

“Spacious fits your life and your priorities.”

“With lightning fast Wi-Fi and outlets at every seat, Spacious is a great place to get focused work done.”


If users disobey the rules that govern the space, their ties with the service can be cut. Just like in a regular job, you can be “terminated” from your co-working membership (chart). This clause in each service’s Terms of Use is illustrative of the instability that ultimately fuels these spaces. Language like flexible, independent, productive, and comfortable all insinuate a reflection of the smoothness of the city. And yet, it seems that in dissolving programmatic and spatial difference, a new type of tension focused in unpredictability is being created. The risk of the restaurant business and the precariousness of the gig economy are aptly matched. One type of unstable business balances itself with another.

1. Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. Monacelli Press, 1994. 10.

2. Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid Modernity. Polity Press, 2015. 5.

3. Ibid., 5.

4. Ibid., 5.

5. Koolhaas, 12.

6. Ibid., 100.

7. Ibid., 152.

8. Ibid., 174.

9. Ibid., 230.

10. Ibid., 85.

11. Castells, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society. Vol. 1. Blackwell Publishers, 2000. 394.

12. Crary, Jonathan. 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep. Verso, 2014. 9.

13. Ibid., 9.

14. Wiemann, Matthias. “Co-working Manifesto.” 2012.

15. “Why Co-working?” GCUC.

16. Wagner, Julie, and Dan Watch. Innovation Spaces: The New Design of Work. Publication. Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking at the Brookings Institute. 7.

17. Ibid., 11.

18. Wrzesniewski, Amy, Susan J. Ashford, and Gianpiero Petriglieri. “Thriving in the Gig Economy.” Harvard Business Review, March/April 2018, 1-5. 1.

19. King, Steven. “Co-working Is Not About Workspace — It’s About Feeling Less Lonely.” Harvard Business Review, December 28, 2017. feeling-less-lonely.

20. Wrzesniewski, 3.  

21. Ibid., 3.

22. Ibid., 3.

23. Liu, Haotian, “Distributed Workplace for Facebook. Inc: a new office typology for the 21st century workstyle” (PhD diss., Syracuse University, 2012), 1-68.

24. Wagner, 5.

25. Ibid., 35.

26. Ibid., 35.

27. Maremont, Mark. “Silicon Valley Cafeterias Whet Appetite of IRS.” The Wall Street Journal, September 1, 2014.

28. Wagner, 34.

29. Ibid.

30. Hanney, Megan. “Will Co-working Hotdesks Be Replaced by a New Concept?” Deskmag, June 29, 2017.

31. “Spacious.” Spacious. Accessed May 9, 2018.

32. “KettleSpace - Work, Your Way.” KettleSpace - Work, Your Way. Accessed May 11, 2018.

33. “Work | Eat | Play.” Work | Eat | Play. Accessed May 11, 2018.

34. Sedacca, Matthew. “How the Hospitality Industry Is Adapting to Laptop Squatters.” Eater (blog), December 13, 2013.

35. “Work | Eat | Play.”

36. Harwood, John. “The Interface: Ergonomics and the Aesthetics of Survival.” In Governing by Design: Architecture, Economy, and Politics in the Twentieth Century, 70-92. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.