Do you live and work in the same building?
In various North American cities in recent years, planners, residents, and others have introduced the notion that there should be more housing built that can also be a person’s workplace. Live-Work differs from “mixed use,” in which an apartment or condo tower may exist above an office or retail building, however apartment dwellers will not necessarily or even likely work in the commercial space below.
Under these discussed Live-Work scenarios, a self-employed individual would work from home. The developer of the housing (and/or the municipal zoning) would need to make accommodation for this type of use. I’ve seen some older buildings converted into artist Live-Work spaces, designed for an artist to have a studio space often at ground level, and their home above it. Newer buildings have often been designed with an office beside the front entrance to the apartment or condo, theoretically allowing someone to receive a client without the client needing to see or enter the rest of the home. However, many units in “live-work” buildings simply have an office off the master bedroom.
A few weeks ago in a casual chat, Richard raised the question of whether Live-Work capacity would be something that residents of future apartment buildings in downtown Toronto might require. Given shifts that happened during the recession in which tens of thousands of Canadians shifted to self-employment, one could wonder if this accelerated a trend toward more free agents. Live-Work might be a trend in both how we live and how we work.
All this got me thinking about the attempts to implement Live-Work in Vancouver with some of the new towers (such as The Hudson or Shaw Tower), and how, according to some observers, almost no purchasers bought with the intention of having a home office (they just wanted to live downtown, either because they work in an office building, like the abundant amenities, or both.)
In the case of artist Live-Work spaces, I read (I believe in Elizabeth Currid’s book) that in New York these spaces are typically sub-let to lawyers, accountants, and others who love their locations and trendiness – and who have a lot more money.
In both cases it may be that typical downtown workers (such as lawyers, accountants, bankers, etc.) end up wanting the live-work condos or artist studios and can afford to pay more for them. But these people work in an office building where they interact with myriad other people all the time.
Most people I know who “work from home” as private contractors or consultants do so largely to avoid a commute and because they prefer to live in quieter, suburban, or exurban surroundings rather than in a dense urban area (in part they may prefer more distant living because of the ability to afford a larger home for the same money as a condo).
So, I am wondering whether Live-Work places downtown (or in denser, urban areas) will grow in the future, or diminish – or stay the same, somewhat fringe phenomenon that they are now.
Do you or any of your friends, clients, or colleagues live and work from a downtown apartment? Or from an urban artist-studio?
Would you want to?