The past two years have put to the test what a creative workspace in the UAE could and should be.
For those who pined to work from home in the comfort of their idiosyncrasies, the pandemic may have been a sugar rush that ended with the aches of cabin fever and online meetings. Traditional office environments, on the other hand, never quite seem as sterile, fluorescent and labyrinthine as when emerging from a homely work den.
Then there are those who have decided, whether out of necessity or ambition, to venture out of the corporate world and work freelance but are nevertheless yearning for some sense of community.
We learn to adapt, of course, but after several workspace permutations, it’s easy to begin daydreaming about what an ideal creative environment would look like.
Twofour54 has proposed an answer with the Community Hub.
Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures of twofour54's Community Hub
The Abu Dhabi media, entertainment and gaming zone launched on Wednesday as the new collaborative space at Yas Creative Hub. It is designed to be a hub for aspiring filmmakers, gamers, animators, freelancers, content creators and start-ups.
The Community Hub includes dedicated areas for twofour54 partners AD Gaming, Arab Film Studio and Creative Lab. It features a cinema-style screening space, several workstations and meeting rooms, workshop halls as well as state-of-the-art studios for editing, sound recording and animation.
“It initially started as a co-working facility but then it grew into something so much more,” Yara Awad, from twofour54's commercial projects and strategic partnerships division, says.
“We had a co-working facility in our old space and we needed to have one here [at Yas Creative Hub]. Our partners were also looking at developing their own spaces, but then we thought a better way would be to curate a space with these partners together because it makes so much more sense to have all these different communities in one space."
Awad says having creatives with various skill levels and backgrounds working out of one hub will encourage “organic networking and career opportunities".
“By having the youth community side by side with the aspiring filmmakers, game start-ups and established businesses, as well as these open spaces where people can come in and mingle, alongside the workshops and activations, you’re able to see that whole trajectory of a creative career.”
The AD Gaming Hub will house a gaming centre established by software developer Unity Technologies where students, professionals and small businesses can learn skills to help them advance in the growing regional gaming industry. The Creative Lab and The Arab Film Studio, meanwhile, will offer internships, workshops and courses.
Nvidia is also launching a dedicated studio. The Nvidia Studio comprises 10 state-of-the-art computers equipped with the latest GeForce RTX Studio GPUs, alongside Nvidia RTX accelerated applications. This means regional content creators will benefit from smoother, faster and more efficient workflows. Nvidia will also provide a range of training sessions and workshops at the space.
There are also common spaces with cafes and arcades, alongside sections dedicated to start-up companies and another for individual members.
“Each segment was thinking about their individual community’s needs, but then we began considering the kind of common shared spaces that all of those segments will require,” Awad says. “That’s when we started developing the town hall, the screening room, breakout lounges and meeting rooms.”
Membership fees start at Dh500 ($136) a month for individual members and freelancers. Those wishing to establish a start-up through the hub can do so for Dh20,000 ($5,445) a year with a business license and allocation of two visas.
Globally, creative hubs are not a new concept. According to twofour54, more than 1.2 million people around the world were working out of creative hubs before the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Community Hub presents an inventive, promising space where it is crucially needed — and at a time when we are exploring the possibilities of workspaces designed to hearten creativity. It is made to accommodate Abu Dhabi’s creative community, accounting for some growing room as well.
“Research shows that the greatest impact starts with empowering local communities,” Mark Whitehead, chief executive officer of twofour54, said during the space’s opening.
“By introducing the Community Hub, creatives and entrepreneurs will have access to resources that will help them address tomorrow’s most pressing issues. The hub will be an engine of ideation, igniting new projects, and businesses and empowering creative talent to grow as they hone their skills side by side with like-minded peers and the industry’s best.”