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20 Feb 2020

MJM and Hansenbuilt transform derelict loft into wellness-focussed co-working space
BY Stu Robarts

A glass atrium with a huge custom-designed circular sofa is at the heart of the space

A glass atrium with a huge custom-designed circular sofa is at the heart of the space
photo: James Jones

MJM Architect and Hansenbuilt Design have converted a derelict loft space in Victoria, Canada, into a co-working space and social club with a focus on health and connecting with others.

Kwench was founded by Tessa McLoughlin to evolve and expand what a co-working space could be, with the aim of making its users healthier and happier.

It is based on promoting a balance of knowledge, wellness, experiences, novelty, curiosity, and connection.

"I wanted to create a space where members had access to all the resources they need to live a full and balanced lifestyle," explained McLoughlin.

"Our mission is to elevate individual happiness and thus strengthen the health, safety and innovation of the world."

The 25,000sq ft (2,300sq m) venue is situated in the roof of one of Victoria’s heritage buildings, which was originally designed by British architect Francis Rattenbury to house the city's streetcars.

To make the concept work, two pitched roofs were merged together with a glass atrium, which is now the heart of the space containing the reception and a huge custom-designed circular sofa.

A variety of shared spaces are built around the atrium "to promote connections, socialising, and cross-pollination of knowledge and ideas." These include a full kitchen, dining areas, lounges and a bar.

There are also 24 private offices for 1-28 people, boardrooms, an art room, a studio that hosts regular classes and events, a fitness centre, meditation and library spaces, changing rooms and a bar.

The aim of the design was to create a place that inspires happiness. Original structural elements have been left exposed to help create unique spaces and new skylights installed throughout to bring in natural daylight.

A mix of brighter, more engaging colours is balanced with a calming, natural palette of wood, tile and fabrics.



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