New global workspace hubs are taking inspiration from the Ancient Greeks, according to new research by International Quarter London (IQL).

IQL third building

IQL is full of occupiers that are “likeminded and complementary”, reflective of the ‘Agora’, an open market place in the city

The report shared exclusively with Property Week found that IQL, the £2.4bn joint venture between Lendlease and LCR, is one of a number of examples of new innovation districts globally that draw parellels with the ‘Knowledge Agora’ districts popular in Ancient Greece.

‘From Desk to District’ suggests that IQL, the mixed-use development built out of the site of the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, is one of three zones globally that are based on securing occupiers that are “likeminded and complementary”, reflective of the ‘Agora’, an open market place in the city.

Alongside IQL, in New York, Citi has taken space on the Cornell University campus in Forest City where it engages with researchers and start-ups while the economic zone in the Chinese city of Shenzhen makes 90% of the world’s mobile phones and electronics, using the principles of collaborative innovation.

The researchers set out to identify how businesses are using different approaches to encourage collaborative innovation. In addition to the Knowledge Agora model the research identified two other main approaches to achieving collaborative innovation:

  • The Innovation Lab - The most common approach to supporting workplace collaboration, the Innovation Lab provides a dedicated internal space or set of facilities to support innovation within an office. This is the model used by businesses such as John Lewis Partnership, VISA, Unilever and Microsoft.
  • The Shared Hub - The Shared Hub provides a corporate facility based around partnership and inviting others to share the space. These are the incubators, accelerators and boot camps and they are particularly popular among financial services companies. In London, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has gone into partnership with San Francisco-based RocketSpace, the tech coworking company, to open a RocketSpace community in Regents House, Angel.

Sherin Aminossehe, head of offices at Lendlease, said: “Today’s most successful businesses are continually searching for the environment that best enhances creativity and enables innovation. It is great to see businesses taking inspiration from the past to help them shape their ideas. Workplaces that support collaborative working and creativity have the power to support business success. IQL is just such a workplace; designed as a fluid environment that supports a range of activities and working styles, and opportunities to connect.”