Irene Manzini Ceinar is an urban designer with a background in architecture. She has a BSc and MSc in architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, and an MRes at the Bartlett School of Planning. Currently, she is an ESRC-funded PhD candidate at Bartlett School of Architecture, and a Visiting Assistant in Research (VAR) at Yale School of Architecture. Along with teaching roles at the Politecnico di Milano, the Bartlett School of Planning, and the LSBU, Irene is a Research Fellow at the COST Action CA18214 European-funded project “The geography of new working spaces and impact on the periphery”
In terms of research, my interests span from the relationship between precariousness of the current work structure and newcollaborative work spaces in contemporary cities, coworking spaces role in fostering community's dynamics, and urban regeneration/development of neglected and peripheral areas. Moreover, I am interested in gaining more experience in designing and implementing qualitative methodologies in placemaking strategies, human-centred approach and community engagement.
The pandemic caused by the spread of the COVID-19 in 2020 has altered the working lifestyle worldwide, marking a massive shift in working culture in the contemporary era. Indeed, when home is not the most efficient workplace and the office cannot host the workers due to social distancing limitations, the “Third place”, such as coworking spaces, represents an alternative for remote workers. Focussing on coworking spaces, during history, several waves have transformed their original concept: from independent workspaces to an increase in commercialisation, towards a bottom-up and community-centred approach benefitting the local context. Although various studies have examined coworking from different angles, there is limited knowledge of the community-centred approaches that coworking can adopt, especially in pandemic times, to support the local community and benefit local development. During COVID-19, several community-driven coworking spaces embraced the evolution of work towards flexibility, enhancing spill-over and cross-fertilisation effects while contributing as vital spaces of local resilience.This study aims to define the role of community-driven coworking spaces in peripheral areas as places of social infrastructure acting for the ‘community good’ during COVID-19 and their connection with the urban dimension as a critical factor to evaluate their potential for social resilience and local development.The methodology focuses on the use of Social Impact Assessment (SIA) to evaluate the role and social sustainability of those spaces, providing robust frameworksand empirical evidence to support their implementation into urban design strategies in the post-COVID phase. Methods and activities are tested through a comparative case study approach in two different neighbourhoods: Finsbury Park (London), and San Siro (Milan), where respectively Space4 and Mare Culturale Urbano coworking spaces are located. Both the spaces are recognised as community-driven coworking, located outside the inner-city centre with complex social dynamics, that acted as community hubs of local resilience during COVID-19.