Roar’s design for Dubai co-working space Niche encourages a wide mix of people to interact, work and do activities together.

Key features

A wide range of events is accommodated by the communal space, from expert workshops and art pop-ups to wellness sessions and professional meetings. ‘To achieve this, we created a flexible space that could morph to suit the activity, easily converting from a co-working space with shared long tables to individual work on stand-up desks, from a closed meeting room to a group collaboration,’ explains Roar founder Pallavi Dean, whose team was briefed by state-of-the-art office development ICD Brookfield Place. Niche, located in the Dubai workspace, was envisioned as a place where ‘professionals, artists, musicians, yogis and psychology professors’ alike could intermingle.

The modular, 125 sq-m interior is defined by illuminated curves, neutral furnishings and finishes, and a generous provision of artworks. For programming that needs a large allocation of open space, like yoga classes or concerts, the tables can be easily cleared away. Talks and presentations are held with the help of a fold-out amphitheatre around which an audience can comfortably sit. Functions that require more privacy, like business meetings, can take place in the boardroom.

Frame’s take

Last year, when we interviewed Pallavi Dean about her thoughts on the post-COVID work world early into the pandemic, she questioned the staying relevance of co-working spaces. Much was still unclear at that point, and many imagined a return to the office would be swift. But Dean was right to predict that people’s priorities when it came to their workspace would greatly change. While Niche doesn’t emphasize the privacy-for-safety factor, it responds to one of the most pressing, worldwide necessities to emerge from the pandemic: togetherness. Design that provides a platform to connect and truly engage with one another, whether for work or recreation, will surely be invaluable as we continue to navigate the ‘new normal’.