Credit: Courtesy HiVE Vancouver Society

Eesmyal Santos-Brault, director of the HiVE Vancouver Society, scouts out Gastown locations for the shared workspace.


Office space still available at Vancouver’s soon-to-open shared workspace the HiVE, an innovation incubator for collaboration-minded sustainability and creative types


Collaboration, creativity, inclusiveness, consensus building, nurturing. In choosing a name for the new shared, flex workspace soon to open on Hastings across from the Woodward’s complex in Gastown, there was much agreement that it ought to reflect the values and goals that would ultimately distinguish the space as meeting grounds for some of Vancouver’s most innovative, creative thinkers from across the city’s burgeoning, and indeed eclectic, neo-sustainability movement.


Learn more about the HiVE

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Deposit on first month's rent due December 8, 2010

(refundable until Dec 20)

Rate, terms, schedule

The HiVE, as it was eventually named, is an exciting new venture built on aspirations for a more just, connected, sustainable world. Born of the realization that the challenges of our times are not being addressed by the prevailing model that siloes dissimilar professionals and industries, the HiVE brings change-minded individuals, small organizations and companies together under one roof to collaborate in evolving the big ideas of tomorrow into actions that address societal issues in meaningful, creative ways.


“The environment will be a buzz of dynamic and creative energy, a hotbed for collaboration and innovation,” says Eesmyal Santos-Brault, director of the HiVE Vancouver Society and principal of Recollective, a local green building and consultancy firm.


Set to open its doors in Spring 2011, the HiVE work space is accessible to transit, offers flexibility for a variety of industries, reduces overhead costs by pooling resources and, while suited to individual professional work, is meant to inspire new ventures in social innovation fuelled by the passion and collaboration of those sharing the space.


A conditional lease has been signed for the space, contingent on whether the group can enlist enough renters by Wednesday, December 10, 2010, to demonstrate its viability ahead of the planned move-in date. As of December 7, most all of the money required to go ahead had been secured from more than 20 businesses and individuals, along with several others who are close to committing. But the group is still looking for more renters to sign on before it can move ahead. [Updated: 7 Dec 2010, 3:15pm]


Curious about the space myself, I asked Eesmyal about the HiVE and who he envisions will work there.


Granville: What kind of space is the HiVE? What type of industries are most suited to using it?

Eesmyal Santos-Brault: It's a shared workspace that includes private office, semi-private office, permanent coworking desks and temporary hotdesks. It includes ample amenities such as small, medium and large meeting rooms, a large kitchen, lounge and multi-purpose room that could be used for yoga, events, etc.


Because infrastructure and amenities are shared, it makes it more affordable for everyone involved. Also because it’s affordable and tenants can pay month to month, the HiVE is ideal for start-ups. So it’s kind of like an incubator space.


The HiVE Society will run the space and manage things like collecting rent, room bookings, IT issues, etc.


The most suited industry types are any working in the realms of sustainability and creativity—change makers. This includes consultants, architects, researchers, artists, engineers, graphic designers, social media nerds, non-profits, etc.







(Images: Flickr / Martin Knowles)


Where is the HiVE and why did you choose that location?

It's located at 130 West Hastings, across from Woodward’s, near Cambie. Comprising 9,000 square feet of contiguous office space on the second floor, it’s part of four recently renovated heritage buildings interconnected from the insides, creating a very funky open office environment complete with brick walls, high ceilings and large windows.


We chose that location for many reasons… We held a second public visioning session in January 2010 to focus on several key items such as location, through which we developed our five priority locations:



(Image: Recollective)


The West Hastings site is in our top preferred location: It’s close to downtown, where many of our HiVE supporters and their clients work already; it’s on a rapid transit corridor [a key consideration in supporting the society’s vision for the HiVE]; it’s close to other progressive companies and NGOs in Gastown, the Woodward’s building (W2), the Flack Block and the Dominion Building.


How many desks/people do you anticipate housing?

It depends on the number of people needing office versus desk versus hot desk. We have the physical capacity to have about 60 people, maybe more.




(Image: Flickr / Martin Knowles)



What was the inspiration behind the HiVE?

The inspiration behind the space was from similar places like the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland and the Hub in the UK. These co-location models are extremely successful in bringing change makers together where their ideas cross-pollinate to generate innovative spin-off companies, NGOs, policies, etc.


A few years ago, Jeremy Murphy from Sustainability Solutions Group and I started talking about the idea of creating a "Vancouver Sustainability Hub.” Jeremy happens to sublease space from my company (Recollective), along with a few other companies, so we were already testing the model out on a small scale.


The idea of co-locating a bunch of cool sustainability-related organizations was a strategic goal from the inception of Recollective, four and a half years ago, and has become a priority goal for this fiscal year. As Jeremy and I discussed the idea, we realized we had very similar versions and that excited us to the point of deciding to finally take action on it. So we organized the first visioning session in October 2009.




(Image: Flickr / Vancouver Design Nerds)


Over 70 people showed up (pictured above), demonstrating to us that there was a serious demand for such a place. Since then, we formed a several working groups, had many meetings and events, raised $17,000 from Vancity to hire a consultant (Scott Huges) to do a feasibility study, changed the name to HiVE, formed a non-profit (HiVE Vancouver Society) and secured a lease on our space.


Of course all the volunteers involved, who've put countless hours into this process, all have day jobs and other obligations. It’s been quite the ride!


Are there still spaces open at the HiVE?