Opening a brand-new location in continental Europe’s largest business centre and reaching full occupancy within three months of its opening is no mean feat. Well, the largest Spaces in Europe, Spaces La Défense in Paris, did just that. Better yet, the current occupancy rate brushes 110%.
The go-to person for everything you need to know about French Spaces, is Vilidiana Abou, the country’s Marketing Manager. We asked her how they went about launching the largest Spaces in the world:
“The first thing we had to do was to create a story about the building,” she says. “So, in order to promote it to the brokers, the corporate accounts, the media, the partners – the first question was: Why go to Spaces La Défense?”
A question that makes perfect sense, given the fact that the La Défense area is usually a place where startups and smaller businesses wouldn’t tread. It’s the place big corporations call home. However, times are changing and the new management of the La Défense business centre wants to bring smaller companies to the other side of the ring-road. They want to animate the area and give it a younger vibe altogether. A place where people can enjoy rooftop drinks, see food trucks on the streets and have the possibility to enjoy a good cup of coffee. So, the story of Spaces is that it’s going to bring that new economy to La Défense.
La Défense: The new Parisian innovation hub
The Spaces brand lends itself to that new economy perfectly. The average coworking space would be around 1,000 square metres, whereas at Spaces it is 5,000 more. It takes over the entire building, says Abou, allowing a close community to form. “Lots of the community members use the coworking space. They can come to the Business Club space, at any time during the day, even if they have their own offices. It’s like the marketplace of the village, where all their ideas can be exchanged.”
The idea is to make Spaces a true hub for innovation, an ecosystem where small and large companies grow together. That’s the main objective, according to Abou. Small companies need the bigger companies as customers, and the big companies need the smaller companies because they want to be inspired by their creativity and courage. It’s not just about the square metres, it’s about the community and the experience. It’s a place that allows anyone to enrich and empower themselves.
Of course, larger spaces tend to attract big, established businesses – Société Générale, General Electric and Schneider are all tenants – but those firms have started to use the open, community aspect of Spaces. This allows them to trial flexible work styles, which they can then bring back to their head offices.
Designed to last
By May, there will be nine Spaces in the greater Paris area. La Défense is the city’s equivalent to the City of London, but the new Spaces is not as towering as its neighbours, most of which surpass 30 floors. The building is still very personal and allows for plenty of human interactions with its 10 floors. Built in the 1990s as the headquarters of KPMG, it had all the stereotypes. For every window there was one office, which could be best described as a cell. One of the best improvements made by the property developers was to design the building in a human-friendly way. Today, the building is bright and open because of the natural light and the welcoming, comfortable interior.
Spaces La Défense officially opened for business on January 2nd, six weeks before its initial opening date. Yet, word had already spread, leading to 55% occupancy by then. Just three months later, after the inauguration event, it had even surpassed capacity. “By the event we were 110% occupied!” says Abou. “We couldn’t say no to a very big customer, so we’re privatising a part of the space to make room”, proving that flexibility pays off.
Start with a bang
The local team wanted to go big for the opening, so the organisers held nothing back. There was live music, hip-hop dancers, outdoor light installations and an exhibition for some of the location’s best and brightest small companies. The photographers from Photocabine set up a self-portrait station, and music-studio creators Jamset brought a music pod, where visitors could plug and play a range of musical instruments.
Abou further shares that the cross-pollination – small firms picking up business from the bigger players of Spaces La Defense – has already begun. Leading to a bright future for this innovation hub, just like its daylight-filled marketplace of coworking spaces. “We will bring fresh ideas from Europe to La Défense,” says Abou. “But we will also open the world to French companies that are already here, because we give them access to the biggest community of coworkers in the world.”
Spaces La Défense is ready to have you. With a Spaces membership, you can work from any one of our Paris locations, or any location around the world for that matter. Check out our location page to find your nearest Spaces.