WeLive 2.0

How to Design 100,000 Apartment Units at Once

Text by Jessica Knobloch-Arscott

Status  COMPLETED 2016

Location  NEW YORK, NY

Client:  WELIVE


We set out on a two year R&D journey with The We Company (formerly WeWork) to design the next generation of the coliving brand WeLive. The question was not about designing a one-off building, but how to create a system that adapts to diverse conditions, that works across all states, that can be prefabricated, and will be embraced by millennials. Our results remain confidential, but I can share a few findings.

  1. When a bedroom becomes smaller, it turns into a sad little room. When you design it like a boat, the small bedroom becomes exciting.
  2. Building codes are not conducive to designing new types of housing. Finding ways to overcome these rigid rules inspired us to design major elements of the apartment as furniture.
  3. By being able to design freely, we were able to reduce the typical apartment building grid of 12’ to 10’, which perfectly syncs with most office buildings for ultimate flexibility.

These 3 points together allowed us to shape a system of prefabricated furniture elements that can be mass produced and deployed to new and old buildings alike, allowing for maximum density, maximum speed of construction, and a favorable reception by millennials. We created a system that sets up a new operational typology for the We Company, with the ability to build hundreds of new co-living buildings throughout the world, while being cost effective and inspiring.