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Multi-centered coworking in Germany's heartland

NRW is home to the Ruhr area, Germany's old industrial core, as well as home to the major cities of Düsseldorf, Cologne and the former capital of West Germany, Bonn.

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While most people outside Germany haven’t heard of North Rhine-Westphalia, the state – which contains the cities of Cologne, Dusseldorf and Bonn – is home to one of the largest metropolitan regions in Europe and 18 million people. Its diverse and rivalrous cities are locations of many creative industries, so it’s unsurprising that many coworking spaces have sprung up here. They bring with them a new spirit of cooperation between the cities of the region. This has led to regular joint meetings and the European Jelly Week, which had its start here. Today Deskmag visits the coworking spaces of North Rhine-Westphalia (or NRW).


Coworking Profile NRW

Number of Coworking Spaces: 9 (plus 6 under development)

Number of desks: 330 (plus 110 under development)

Average prices per month:

Permanent desk with 24/7 access: €215

Flexible desk during office hours: €182

Desk for a day: €13

 

Cologne (1 million inhabitants)

Gasmotorenfabrik

The twelve founding members of the Gasmotorenfabrik (gas engine factory) opened an alpha version of their coworking space in an old industrial area near the fairgrounds in the spring of 2009. They operate as a non-profit association.

Any of the 35 desk spaces can be rented for €120 a month or €12 a day. The majority of coworkers currently work in creative industries. There is a strong community here, with connections to Ignite Cologne, Twittwoch and Start-up Camps, which meet here two or three times a week. As the initators of Coworking Cologne, the CoworkingNRW group and the Coworking.de website, they are also active in the local, regional and national movement.

Kölner Zeiträume

Kölner Zeiträume is the first coworking space in Cologne. The founder Jacqueline Boyce wanted to create a place where people could work and be with their children under one roof, and realized this vision in July 2007.

The location offers coworking, childcare, meeting space and seminar rooms. They also organize events for various groups. To those outside the space, the Zeiträume is unfortunatley not so communicative; several previous emails remain unanswered.

betahaus (opening May 2011)

The Berlin coworking space will extend its chain to Cologne when it opens in May this year in a location directly opposite the Ehrenfeld mosque. Like the other coworking spaces in the Betahaus group, this one will launch big – there will be over 70 desks from the first day. A café on the ground floor linked to workspace upstairs seems to have become a standard feature of the Betahaus concept.

The desks come with WLAN and copiers. A Skypebox ensures that longer conversations can be had without disturbing others. Permanent desks here cost €279, and flexible desks during normal opening hours cost €199. Some additional extras are free, if you sign a six-month contract. There is also a €10 monthly membership fee.

 

Düsseldorf (586 000 inhabitants)

Garage Bilk

Nine founders from the creative industries field have come together to open Düsseldorf's first coworking space. The 200 sq/m work area opened in December 2010 - right in the middle of the student-populated district Bilk, from which its name derives.

Garage Bilk offers pretty much everything expected from a fully-fledged coworking space. A colorful mix of people, events and enough space for both open and private communication. Access to the entire office infrastructure is on a fair use basis, with a permanent desk costing €199 per month, and flexible desks from €169 EUR. Garage Bilk is suitable for early and late risers, and opens every weekday from 9am til 11pm.

 

Dortmund (581,000 inhabitants)

Coworking Dortmund & Ständige Vertretung

The first Dortmunder Coworking Space is currently in last phases of development. The location near the Schwanenwall in the city center is already operating with up to eight coworkers. Exactly when it opens to others, the total capacity and the price plans are not yet available for publication, despite our repeated attempts to uncover them. Though details are thin, the potential for a great coworking space in Dortmund now exists. A second coworking space will open as Ständige Vertretung almost at the same time.

 

Essen (576 000 inhabitants)

Unperfekthaus

The Unperfekthaus doesn’t really fit into the category of coworking. They call themselves an “artists' village, pub, and hotel.” In addition to studios, bars, restaurants, hotel rooms and numerous large and small meeting areas, they also provide meeting rooms. Most of these areas are suitable for flexible work on a daily basis.

For €5,50 per person you get wireless internet, video projector or flip charts, but also as much coffee or soft drinks as you can drink for up to 4 hours. For €30, you also can eat as much as you want.

Panorama Coworking (opening July 2011)

Only three minutes away, on the main shopping street, Unperfekthaus is opening one of the most versatile coworking spaces in North Rhine Westphalia. Versatile because in addition to the 20 desks with panoramic view, comes a wellness area and lounge, barbecue area, a vegetable patch, sun lounges and covered work tables on the roof.

The operators are also developing a cross-generational approach, which means having coworkers from all age groups. In addition they have developed a concept called “coworking with customers”: coworkers who create products will be able to display them in the retail space on street level.

How this all actually works in practice will become clear from July 2011. Permanent desks will cost €200-230. Flexible desks are also available. For daily coworking, the operators recommend remaining at Unperfekthaus.

 

Wuppertal (351 000 inhabitants)

The initiator of the European Week Jelly, Anni Roolf, has planned for some time to open a coworking space in her home town. During the Jelly week, she joined with other entrepreneurs to write a business plan. Currently the project is looking for a suitable location, and has the support of the city of Wuppertal. Anni is busy building a network of individuals and institutions that will come together in the future coworking space.

 

Bonn (320,000 inhabitants)

Coworking Bonn

The first edition of a coworking space in the former German capital was founded in July 2010 in the offices of a web agency that wanted to put some empty space to use. Today the space can accommodate up to five coworkers from any professions at once, if their work is not all phone-based. A monthly pass with no minimum term costs €250, and weekly and daily tickets are available. Four bus lines connect the coworking space to the inner city. By foot it takes only 15 minutes from the train station, and for drivers there is a direct connection to Autobahn 565.

There is a second as-yet unnamed coworking space in the pipeline. The project is headed by journalist Andreas Bechmann, together with the Bonner Social Bar.

 

Münster (276,000 inhabitants)

PI28

With the start of the new year came two new coworking spaces in the small university town of Münster, a popular city outside of the Rhein-Ruhr region.

The smaller of these coworking spaces is PI28, located on the inner ring road, just minutes from the central station. The operators come from the creative and architectural industries. The open-plan workspace is dominated by its green color scheme.

Up to ten coworkers can occupy a permanent desk, with wireless internet, free (organic) drinks, a conference/break room and a mailing address. A small balcony offers a relaxing moment overlooking greenery. It all costs €219 per month. For €15 a day, or ten tickets, you can rent desks on a more flexible basis.

produktivhaus

The produktivhaus opened in January in the inner-south of Münster. With the help of various events, such as the European Jelly Week or the NRW meeting, the space has already become popular despite its short existence.

There is space for 30 coworkers across 250 sq/m. The large space has a work area and a lounge area for more comfortable quiet discussions. A multi-purpose room is available for photo shoots as well as meetings or seminars. A permanent desk costs €239 per month.

Once a month there is a skill-share workshop where coworkers can pass on knowledge to others interested in their topic. Movie nights and breakfast meet-ups on a regular basis also help to get and stay in touch among members.

 

Aachen (258,000 inhabitants)

Launchpad & Coworking Aachen

In Aachen there are now two new coworking spaces under development, Launchpad and Coworking Aachen. To avoid damaging each other with direct competition during the sensitive opening phase, the two spaces are trying to cooperate with each other, just like their customers would do.

Plans are afoot to combine in a single space in the Aachen-Schanz district by April, although the cooperation process may see this pushed back until May or June.

Update: Werk52 has openend another coworking space in Aachen on September 1st.

 

Paderborn (165,000 inhabitants)

weXelwirken

Deskmag wrote about weXelwirken’s small sister space in our report on rural coworking. The original weXelwirken opened in Paderborn in November 2010. The operators see themselves as a large shared office community. Alongside the seven permanent members, there is space for five guests on flexible desks.

The rooms are situated in the center of Paderborn. For a permanent desk with 24-hour access, they ask only €160 a month. That also brings voting rights and shower facilities.

 

Marl (88,000 inhabitants)

Designhaus Marl

This coworking space opened three years ago in the middle of downtown Marl, just a few meters away from the central market square. It provides desks for ten coworkers, plus an additional eight desks if necessary.

For only €165 per month you get a seat at a desk with wireless internet access and a black and white printer. There's free coffee and soft drinks and no extra charge for using the meeting room.

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Find an regularly updated list of coworking spaces in Cologne, Dusseldorf and other cities in NRW on Deskwanted

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