The ideas that inform the co-op were established by the founding members; the terms by which the building is run have been worked out in practice. This document describes them and was last updated in April 2018.
» The principles of the company
The company has been set up to manage the building at 115 Bartholomew Road, London NW5.
This building is a place in which designers and makers can do good work. By ‘good work’ we mean:
work that is useful and delightful to others;
a practice that is aware of its consequences and tries to balance them, in human terms and in terms of the effects on the wider environment;
work that is also useful and delightful to the designer/makers themselves, in the development of their own skills and knowledge;
work that comes from an egalitarian practice that is run without hierarchy and without delegation of menial tasks to subordinates;
a practice that welcomes apprentices and informal learning;
a practice that is concerned to get all the details of a job right;
a practice that is in critical dialogue with mainstream design and production.
The central corridor in the building is a place where work is displayed. This includes work made by the members of the company, as well as displays of outside work organized by the members.
This company has been devised to give greater control to tenants in the running of the building.
The lease given by the freeholder to the company is designed to keep the level of rent payments low, to help the achievement of ‘good work’.
New members are asked to write a statement of their aims and practices, and provide samples of past work, as part of the process of joining the company.
You are asked to take an active part in the life of the building.
The building should be your primary place of work.
» The constitution of Workplace Co-operative 115
Over the years, we have established a set of rules and procedures by which the co-op is run. These have now been brought together in a constitution. The present constitution is given here.
Workplace Co-operative 115 is a building at 115 Bartholomew Road in Kentish Town, London. It provides places to work for people engaged in productive activities such as furniture making, film-making, script-writing, architecture, book publishing, industrial design, graphic design.
There are seven working spaces – or units – in the building. The community that works in this building is called the co-op. The occupants of the building are the members and their assistants.
Members of the co-op organize themselves first by unit, and share a lease for that unit. The business of the co-op is conducted through a weekly meeting and through smaller committees set up for particular purposes.
Rent is collected by the company and is used to repay the loan with which the building was made. Service charges are also collected and used to pay for running costs.
Occupants are primarily self-employed. No more than two people may work together in partnership in the building. Long-term assistants [see 4.3] may be employed by a member. Assistants are limited to one per member or per partnership.
The company holds an Annual General Meeting. Before the AGM members of a unit elect one or two members from within their unit to attend this meeting. At the AGM, between two and seven directors of the company are elected or re-elected.
Directors of the company are registered at Companies House. They can sign cheques and authorise payments for the company. The directors will appoint a secretary and may also employ an administrator and others to help run the company.
Members pay a monthly rent and service charge on the first day of every month. They do this by direct debit from their bank account.
Members do not have security of tenure under the Landlords and Tenant Act.
Members are responsible for the upkeep of their unit.
Members must not make any structural alterations or additions to the interior or exterior of their unit or any other part of the building.
Members have the right always to have access to their unit and to use the common parts.
Members must let the company have access to their unit at all times for the purposes of building maintenance.
Members choose whether or not to insure their own contents. The company will insure the building.
Members must not sub-let their space to another person.
Members must give the company three months’ notice that they are leaving at any point.
The company must give a member three months’ notice of its request for a member to leave.
» Procedures for joining as a member
Members in the unit concerned will interview candidates and propose one to the rest of the co-op.
A panel of three members – one from the unit concerned and two from other units – will interview the candidate. They will use the checklist written for this purpose.
The interview panel will report their recommendation to the weekly meeting.
From the point of a member giving notice of leaving, other members of this unit will have three months to find a new member, during which rent and service charges are covered by the leaving member’s deposit. If they have not found a replacement after three months, the charges for the fourth month will be carried by the co-op. For the fifth month onwards, the charges will be carried by members of the unit concerned.
The charges consist of two parts: rent and service charge.
Rent is the charge that goes to repay the loan from the Triodos Bank that was taken out in order to finish the building.
The workshop areas of the building (at present units 1 and 3) are considered to be ‘light-industrial’ and rent for these areas is set at a value comparable with similar rents in the area. The office/studio areas (at present units 2, 4, 5, 6, 7) have rents set at a value comparable with office rents in the area. In both cases rent is charged per area occupied.
Service charge is the payment towards the costs of running the building. Service charges are seen as being made up of two different kinds of component:
Costs per person – e.g. bookkeeping, alarm, cleaning, broadband, water rates, etc; also rent voids and dilapidation. These costs are divided equally between the number of people using the building.
Costs per area and volume occupied – principally: gas, electricity, building insurance, rates. These costs are divided by the area each person uses, with the double-height factor also applied where appropriate (units 2 and 3).
The current costs of running the building (since 2010) are as follows. ‘Per person costs’ [4.2.1] are 41.08% of the whole, and ‘space costs’ [4.2.2] are 58.92% of the whole. This proportion is used in calculating the service charge for each person.
Rent and service charges may rise. The co-op has the right to review the rent and service charges, as set down in the Rent and service charge review mechanism document.
Members have a right to make a capital lump payment instead of rent (see the Capital payment mechanism document).
We recognize three kinds of assistant: visiting workers, assistant workers, long-term assistants.
Visiting workers: visitors who are only around for short periods.
The visiting worker will work within the space of their hosting member.
The hosting member should explain the day-to-day etiquette of the building and their unit; the hosting member should point out anything from the Induction notes that seems relevant.
Visiting workers are welcome to join the building-meeting lunch, but will be asked to leave for the meeting itself.
They are expected to be here only in the company of their hosting member, not to be left in the unit for more than an hour or so. Visiting workers are to be let in and out of the member’s unit only by the member; at no time are they to be in receipt of a member’s door keys or the building’s spare set.
They should be working for the hosting member and not doing their own work.
Assistant workers: visitors who are working longer than a week, even if part-time.
New assistants can only be taken on by a member with the agreement of their unit.
The new person should be introduced to the co-op by their hosting member – at minimum by email, but ideally in person.The assistant worker will work within the space of their hosting member.
The hosting member should explain the day-to-day etiquette of the building and their unit. The welcoming version of the Induction notes should be given to these assistants explaining the ethos of 115.
Assistant workers are welcome to join the building-meeting lunch, but will be asked to leave for the meeting itself.
They are expected to be here only in the company of their hosting member, not to be left in the unit for more than an hour or so. Assistant workers are to be let in and out of the member’s unit only by the member; at no time are they to be in receipt of a member’s door keys or the building’s spare set of keys.
They should be working for the hosting member and not doing their own work.
Long-term assistants: work here longer than a month, even if part-time In addition to the above points, the host member and long-term assistants should adhere to the following:
The hosting member will pay a monthly addition to the co-op, equal to the cost-per-person element of the service charge. At present this is £53.62 + VAT (£64.35 per month). This will be paid with the member’s rent.
While the assistant can work more independently, the work they do must be at least 80 per cent for their hosting member.
After a three-month probationary period they:
will be allowed to participate in weekly building meetings – but not come to any general meetings and they do not have a right to vote on co-op decisions.
can have a key – with the agreement of the co-op as whole.
If a long-term assistant is doing more than 20 per cent of their own work while here, then the question of becoming a full member should be raised.
A member’s spouse or child has no natural rights to work at the co-op as an assistant or to share in her or his membership. A spouse or child may apply to be a member or an assistant following the procedures described here.
» Long-term absence
If a member knows they will be absent from the co-op for a period of longer than two months, they should make arrangements to find someone to fill their space for this time. The maximum term for such an absence is one year. This process will follow the principles of finding new members [section 3]. Members of the unit concerned should be the first to agree on a person to occupy the space in this member’s absence; other members in the co-op are then consulted.
The absent member will continue to pay rent and service charges. In compensation, the replacing person will pay the same sum directly to the absent member.
The replacing person will take over the absent member’s key for the duration of their period at the co-op.
The replacing person is not a member and does not have member’s rights. If the absent member decides not to return, the replacing person will need to apply for a place as a member, along with any other candidates.
» Desk sharing
A desk-share arrangement, in which two members share a desk by time, is permitted in exceptional circumstances, and must be agreed by all co-op members.
Members may not share the space of a single desk.
If a desk-share is agreed by members, then the rent is divided equally between them. The service charge is divided in this way: the per person cost is paid per person; the space cost is divided equally between the two members.
» Changes to this constitution
The constitution has been agreed by members at a meeting. Changes to the constitution can be made after a vote of all members. A majority of two-thirds of the whole membership is needed to approve any changes.