This Office Space in BGC Makes Coworking Look Artsy and Hip

Square One adds to the list of cool coworking options in Manila.


( There's no shortage of coworking spaces in Manila, but these days it takes more than a few desks and a WiFi connection to make a good one.


Enter Square One, a coworking space that has been operating in the middle of bustling Bonifacio Global City since late 2016. It’s run by Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation, which is the company that acts as the “master planner” of the city.




“As [a] developer of Bonifacio Global City (BGC), we wanted to diversify in terms of product offerings,” says Joanne Magno, Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation's (FBDC) city marketing assistant manager. “We want to cater to startups and to digital nomads. We want to give them an avenue to thrive in BGC." It seemed to be the logical next step, but as a well-established developer with so much experience, they certainly could identify the risks. As Magno explains, most of FBDC’s clients take on long term leases from five years to 20 years. Coworking spaces are unique in that they need to cater to clients who want shorter minimum lease periods, some lasting for about a month.

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In balancing out the risks, FBDC did a lot of research to figure out exactly what customers need. Their attentiveness to the market's requirements and expertise in the field of developing commercial office spaces is evident in the way Square One is set up. The coworking space offers four different services: Hot desks (rental rates start at P600 per day), private offices, meeting rooms, and event areas. A free trial for the hot desk is available to anyone who signs up on their website.




Square One’s offerings serve both startups and existing companies alike. Magno explains that some companies housed nearby or in the same building have chosen to rent out hot desks or office spaces, instead of expanding or searching for new office space on their own. Their physical space is large, at around 1,200 square meters, and most of it is devoted to the hot desk areas. The furniture, created by Group Perspective, is all light and unobtrusive, and the design of the spacedone by A&Dis bright and dynamic without being overwhelming or distracting.




The hot desk/common area and digital library are the two spots where people can come to work on a per-day basis. The common area is a vast space with high black industrial-style ceilings and light gray walls. The place is well lit, bright enough for you to get your work done without straining your eyes, but not as harsh as typical office lighting.


Soft brown seats and tables line one side of the room, facing a stone-colored brick wall. Large paintings from the Bonifacio Art Foundation add interesting conversation pieces to the space. In the center, low cushioned seats upholstered in bright blues and greens are positioned around circular tables that can be taken apart like puzzles. There are smaller tables off to the sides and a more private nook with about four chairs.



All the furniture here is easily movable. This is an incredibly useful feature for this area, which is also where most events are held. Square One has previously hosted events like product launches, workshops, and talks for companies such as Globe Telecom and Uber. They don't charge corkage, and you won't be limited to any particular catering service.







The digital library in the next room is part of the hot desk area and can also be rented out for events. It features two large rectangular tables and one large circular desk, as well as large muted-red bulletin boards. This choice of color makes the boards feel like art rather than utilitarian structures. Some miniature replicas of the famous art sculptures in Bonifacio Global City are displayed against a cream-colored brick wall: a fishing sculpture by Ferdinand Cacnio called "Pasasalamat," "Ang Supremo" by Leo Ben-Hur Villanueva, and "The Trees" by Reynato Paz Contreras. This use of art throughout the hot desk areas makes the place feel both elegant and modern.  



A walk down the wide corridor leads you to the private office spaces. There are tall doorways and frosted-glass walls which make the area feel more spacious, while the windows and doors are decorated with wide, bright-yellow architectural frames, sometimes in angled quadrilateral shapes. Other frosted-glass windows feature the same angles, which gives the space a less boxy feel.




All sorts of businesses, like financial tech companies, online retail companies, and even professionals rent spaces at Square One that seat three, five, or 10 persons each. Each room has WiFi, and renting the space includes meeting room use (depending on the package you get), free coffee, tea, and water, and access to the library and the pantry. Square One’s hot desk or private office customers can also use lockers situated in the hallway to keep their belongings safe.





Just like any regular office, Square One has a pantry where people can grab a glass of water or a cup of coffee, or even store their food in the fridge and enjoy it at lunch time. It’s small but tastefully decorated in hues of gray with touches of purple. The geometric backsplash at the sink is a subtle element that makes the space feel less like a cooped-up office pantry and more like a homey common area.


Square One's functional but refined décor is just one example of how staying attuned to a workforce's evolving needs can result in a workspace that feels both comfortable and contemporary. With an "office" like this, wouldn't you want to come in every day?


Photos by Dairy Darilag


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