Children and work: space takes on double duty

In London, Cuckooz Nest is a hybrid, flexible place where you can work and take your kids to a daycare center. With the contribution of Arper

Cuckooz Nest, London © ph. Billy Bolton

“The idea began when my partner Charlie became the mother of Orla,” says Fabienne O’Neill, the co-founder together with Charlie Rosier of Cuckooz Nest, a hybrid space in London, in the Clerkenwell zone, with a certified daycare facility for kids under age 2 and an equipped zone where parents can work, concentrate and hold meetings.
“The daughter of my business partner Charlie – Fabienne continues – was born four months after we began with our first start-up, Cuckooz. It was immediately hard to combine entrepreneurial life with parenting. The more we tried, the more we realized how much structures like Cuckooz Nest are needed. In the United Kingdom one out of every seven freelancers is a working mom, and the phenomenon is on the rise, so access to flexible assistance with kids is a real necessity. Our space is not only for mothers, because we also welcome working dads.” The parents pay a fee that includes an hourly rate for the daycare center, for a desk and co-working facilities: “I ranges from 10 to 18 pounds per hour, but it all depends, because the more you use the space, the more the service becomes economical. We are open 50 weeks a year, from 8 AM to 6 PM, also on Sundays and holidays, and we offer a place for working complete with fast Wi-Fi, printers, events, coffee and tea.”

Cuckooz Nest, London © ph. Billy Bolton

The accessorized and kid-proof interiors have been done by Leo Wood of the studio Kinder Design, and the furniture choices include the Catifa 46 seats by Arper: “The real technical challenge is that of isolating the space, dividing it in an appropriate way. We had to create walls and doors between the daycare center and the workspaces, to offer the right levels of connection between parents and children. Furthermore, it is very important to guarantee safety for the kids, so we have imagined a sort of barrier at the main entrance to the daycare center, to keep the children from leaving and to identify incoming visitors.”

The subdivision was also a challenge: “There was not much floor space, so we had to decide where and how to organize play activities. In the work area we have created some phone cabins or mini-offices, where people can have conversations or make private calls; there is a trend towards creating more private areas in open offices, shared by all co-working spaces. Fortunately we had two small alcoves in the main office on the ground floor, which lent themselves perfectly to become small cabins.”

Cuckooz Nest, London © ph. Billy Bolton

The project focuses on acoustics: “Charlie Rosier, one of the two founders, had the idea of using a smart acoustic product, specially designed in the form of a soft cloud that descends from the ceiling, perfect to decorate the room for the children and to buffer sound.” In terms of colors, “I thought about a combination that would work well for both the spaces, to create a connection between the two areas. So we chose a dark blue as the main color, suitable for the area where the children sleep and also for the wall in the workspace on the upper level. Otherwise, bright yellow and paler pink tones are echoed in the complements, from the paintings to the vases and the chairs by Arper.”