London – ARC Club, a neighbourhood co-working start-up in Hackney, London, was just two weeks away from completing its first fit-out when the country went into lockdown. Architect and ARC Club’s design director Caro Lundin was visiting family in Sweden where she was forced to stay put, having to finish the remainder of the project remotely. What were the founders’ first responses? And how will they adapt to the New Normal when restrictions lift? Lundin shares her experience.
How are you responding to the pressures brought on by the COVID-19 crisis?
CARO LUNDIN: Luckily, my business partner Hannah [Philp, CEO of ARC] was really quick to respond, and we postponed the opening immediately. We also tried to finish as much of the fit-out as possible before the lockdown. We were really mindful of the risks, so we made sure contractors were wearing protective gear and limited how many people could be in the space.
Currently we’re being really careful with our messaging. We’re really humble and not promising too much. We can’t promise too much – no one knows exactly what’s going to happen. But behind the scenes we’re constantly working and preparing for a soft launch as soon as the restriction lifts. When it lifts, we’re ready. That means we’re going to allow fewer people into the space. We’re going to have bigger distances between desks and frequent cleans. We’ve also looked into making the space available for other things, such as private events, pop-up restaurants and photo shoots. We’ve seen a huge interest from our neighbours and friends to help out and help each other through this difficult time.