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Community Legacy

September 18th, 2017

Berlin’s most influential & groundbreaking coworking space Co.Up is closing shop. Their famous event space remains open.

As Co.Up’s first ever renter, nine years ago, about a year before it even became Co.Up, I feel obliged to say a few words. This is, however, not a eulogy.

On the surface, a coworking space is office space with tables for rent, and there’s at least one in every major city today. When what eventually become Co.Up started in fall of 2008, coworking was decidedly not a thing, not usual, not common.

Of course, people have shared office space since there was office space, but a dedicated office sharing culture, a notion of a temporary home for digital nomads with globally shared values, that was new. And Co.Up was at the forefront of this now ubiquitous movement.

sad to hear about the closing of @co_up as a coworking space. your atmosphere was formative for me. thank you, @freaklikeme and @langalex. — @electricgecko

In the past ten years, and without hyperbole, Co.Up has been the foundation and nurturing space for sustainable communities that started with technology, but now spans culture, education and the arts.

How is Co.Up different from other coworking spaces in this regard? The openness and willingness to try things that are different, that are unconventional, but ultimately the right thing to do.

Co.up was born out of the desire of Upstream founders Alex & Thilo to have a nice office they can share with others. Alex’s & Thilo’s community involvement made it an attractive space for other technologists to hang out. Later, and with Aleks’s initiative and support, other communities found a home at Co.Up.

These communities and the coworkers participating in them enabled thousands of people per year to connect, start out their careers in Berlin, find jobs, find partners in crime^Wbusiness, found companies, start user groups. Even OpenTechSchool, a global initiative in volunteer education, has its roots at Co.Up. On top of all this, countless friendships have found a beginning at Co.Up that have since long outlived the confines of the offices at Adalbertstraße. And this is only a tiny sliver of groups that started out at Co.Up.

Thanks co.up for being my work home for many years, for all the people I got to meet, and everything you did for the community :’( https://twitter.com/co_up/status/908617161308082176 — @kriesse

Co.Up’s probably most radical initiative was the opening of a 100+person event space that was free for events that were open to the public. I keep meeting folks that say they want to start something and they need place to meet and every time it comes down to Co.Up’s generosity to support the Berlin communities pro-bono that enables so much. In other cities and contexts, the deal usually involves a commercial involvement, hindering many initiatives.

Luckily, Co.Up’s event space remains open.

Met lots of great people by way of @langalex and @freaklikeme, and the team at @co_up. All the best on their next journey. — @klimpong

Personally, I’ve given up my desk at Co.Up in 2015 after founding Neighbourhoodie and needing a space of our own, but we continue to support Co.Up’s event space financially, like many other Berlin companies. I’ve simply outgrown the model of a coworking space and now Upstream is going through the same transition. As they mention in their closing blog post, success is a matter of focus, and their focus is now their software business Cobot, a very successful coworking space management software, so they are still very much support the coworking community.

My thanks to Alex, Thilo & Aleks for all their hard work. Your dedication will live on in the DNA of so many Berlin communities, people, and hearts.