Empty Bank Branches Converted into Free Desk Space for Nonprofits and Startups

Empty Bank Branches Converted into Free Desk Space for Nonprofits and Startups
Arts & Culture

A charity transforms the empty spaces of once empty-pocket re-generators into accessible office space

Rachel Pincus
  • 3 february 2015

If your city is anything like New York, it has ATM branches everywhere. And don’t you wish these could be used for something other than the mundane cash needs of people who belong to a certain corporate bank? A U.K. charity called 3Space hopes to utilize such spaces in a way that brings fledgling businesses and communities together by offering free space for them in which to dream, create and work.

Previously they’ve worked with already-existent companies, but 3Space’s most recent initiative is called Hatch, and it focuses on offering space in several underutilized Barclays Bank branches around the U.K. for general community use, with a focus on entrepreneurship.

The first branch opened in Oxford last month and features gallery space, Wi-Fi, a kitchen, AV equipment, a greenhouse and something known as the Makervault – in the former bank vault, no less. Individual users schedule and negotiate their ‘meanwhile use’ of this space online.

This space features sewing machines, workshop tools and a 3D printer. It’s a perfect launching pad for people who can’t afford these items for their personal use. A further three spaces are set to open this year.

The initiative is also a boon to Barclays’s image as it works to support small entrepreneurs around the U.K.. They recently started the Barclays Accelerator, a three-month intensive startup program designed to support new businesses on their journey to “delivering breakthrough innovations in financial technology.” They have also recently opened the innovation space known as the Escalator in East London and Manchester.

“My background is urban planning, Henry’s (the co-founder) is finance,” said co-founder and CEO Andrew Cribb. “We both thought there was a better way to regenerate neighborhoods. Empty property is a resource in abundance, yet it is relatively inaccessible. So just through more efficient use of these ‘cracks’, in even the most prosperous cities, there is huge potential to bring diversity and change to neighborhoods, making them places where people want to live and work. There is no need to wait for large scale investment.”

At the very least, we’re sure no one misses the ATM branch.

3Space // 3Space Oxford Blog

+3Space Hatch
+Barclays Accelerator
+Barclays Bank
+financial services
+startup program

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