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How Managed Workspace Can Support the 15-Minute City

How Managed Workspace Can Support the 15-Minute City
September 13, 2021 gnuworld
15-minute city apartment complex

In this article, we consider how managed workspace can support the 15-minute city.

Worldwide, the concept of 15-minute cities is catching on. Already, a number of countries have created plans to transform key cities – and shared workspace fits perfectly with this model.

In this article, we cover:

What is a 15-minute city?

A 15-minute city encourages people to live in a way that puts everything they need within a 15-minute walk or cycle of their home.

The concept was envisioned by Professor Carlos Moreno at Pantheon Sorbonne University in Paris. In a recent interview, he said, “We need to reconcile urban dwellers with their location, with their district, with their street. We need to fight against enmity and loneliness, and we need to learn to love our neighbourhoods. The name for this is topophilia – love of a place.”

15 min city

Source: Savills

The concept is taking off in major cities. Quality of life improves dramatically when people no longer have to commute for hours and can enjoy their city without stressing about parking and petrol costs.

In order to work, each neighbourhood within the city needs to fulfil six social functions:

  • living
  • working
  • supplying
  • caring
  • learning
  • enjoying.

This means housing must be integrated with shops, restaurants, hospitals, parks and offices.

The role of managed workspace in 15-minute cities

Managed workspaces, like The Workspace, are all about convenience. They have everything a business needs without lengthy commutes or high overheads.

Shared facilities

Managed workspaces are structured so that different companies share access to business services under one roof.

Members have access to kitchens, canteens, printing services and meeting or boardrooms.

Central location

Most managed workspaces are in central locations with easy access to public transport, restaurants, shops and other businesses.

Our Melrose Arch branch, for example, is a five-minute walk from a gym, a Clicks pharmacy, a shopping mall, a Woolworths, five high-end restaurants and two hotels.

melrose arch managed workspace

Many coworking spaces are located in lifestyle or shopping centres, like our Pretoria branch in The Club. Members have easy access to shops, banks, ATMs, restaurants and cinemas.

Close to employees’ homes

With flexible terms and multiple branches in major cities, it’s easier for employees to access a professional workspace close to where they live.

Members have access to all branches of The Workspace, so each team member can choose which branch is most convenient.

The 15-minute city in a South African context: pros and cons

The 15-minute city concept sounds great. In practice, however, it might not work equally well in different contexts.

Certain factors in countries like South Africa may also make the concept difficult to translate into reality.

Below we list some of the pros and cons that apply in South Africa.

Pros of the concept in South Africa

Reduced congestion and emissions

All our major cities are congested. Encouraging people to live closer to work would help reduce traffic and improve air quality.

Better health and wellness

Encouraging people to walk, cycle and spend less time in their cars would have a positive effect on most people’s health.

Economic boost

A 15-minute lifestyle would require more essential businesses closer to where people live. This could give the economy a boost and cut unemployment.

A stronger community spirit

People being present on our streets and socialising with their neighbours could improve the sense of community and make streets safer.

More frugal lifestyles

If everything a household needs is a 15-minute walk or cycle away, there may be no need to buy a car, which could reduce people’s expenses.

Potential cons of the 15-minute city in South Africa

Spatial planning issues

With our current spatial planning, most people live on the outskirts of the city. The majority of work opportunities are too far for them to walk or cycle.

Income inequality

Neighbourhoods with more amenities, like restaurants and office parks, become increasingly expensive. There’s a danger of gentrification unless incomes rise to match this increase.

High crime rate

Encouraging people to walk or cycle to work or shops is dangerous in some areas. A 15-minute city can’t work unless pedestrians are safe.

Expense of implementation

The cost of restructuring a city to be walkable and cyclable is hard to justify when some neighbourhoods don’t have basic amenities like homes, gutters and street lights.

Examples of the 15-minute city

Many countries around the world are making the 15-minute city model work. They are gradually planning and introducing measures to encourage healthier urban lifestyles.


Paris is strongly pursuing a 15-minute city vision. Cars have been banned in some areas and will be banned in all areas by 2030. The city has constructed nearly 1,500 kilometres of bicycle lanes in the past five years.


Barcelona has introduced many car-free blocks within the city. It aims to create more spaces for pedestrians, bicycles and public transport. According to the mayor, 90% of the city’s population supports these changes.

New York

New York’s transport commissioner wants to reclaim street space as pedestrian spaces and outdoor activities. The city has created 644 km of bike paths, seven rapid bus routes and launched 70 plazas. It has successfully reclaimed 73 hectares of former street space.


Ottawa recently launched a 25-year plan to create 15-minute neighbourhoods. The aim is to have all residents making most of their daily trips by foot, bicycle, public transport or ridesharing within a 15-minute footprint.


Copenhagen “pedestrianised” its main shopping street back in 1962. One of the areas has even been designed to be a five-minute district. The plan is to expand this district to incorporate 40,000 inhabitants who work in the area.


Melbourne’s plan involves a 20-minute city where amenities are no more than an 800-metre walk. Research shows 20 minutes is the maximum time people will walk to shops and restaurants.

How The Workspace can support healthier cities

At The Workspace, we believe that our managed workspace can support the 15-minute city concept in a number of ways.

Sourcing services where you work

Sharing workspace with multiple other businesses and entrepreneurs makes it possible to source services where you work. Networking is much easier. It’s also easier for small businesses to find and support one another, in mutually beneficial ways.

Shared utilities and space

In our managed workspace, a lot of businesses and their employees share facilities. This leads to overall savings – not just financially, but for the environment too.

For example, members at The Workspace share a single reception space; utilities (electricity, water, air conditioning); access to printers; kitchen facilities; lounge space; meeting rooms and boardrooms; and more. The net result is less waste.

Strategic locations

Many of our managed workspaces are strategically located in prime commercial areas. They’re designed to be conveniently close to shops, banks, gyms and other amenities.

In fact, many shared workspaces are right in the heart of shopping and business precincts. For example, consider what you’ll find within just a five-minute walk of our Melrose Arch branch.

Support for hybrid work models

Increasingly, companies are using managed workspaces to enable employees to work closer to where they live, either all or some of the time.

This is one of the most direct ways that managed workspace can support the 15-minute city.

By reducing the length of needed commutes, shared workspace can save people time and frustration; minimise congestion on the roads; and reduce harmful emissions.

At The Workspace, we offer affordable, fully serviced offices and coworking, and all our members have access to on-site meeting rooms, boardrooms and a range of business services. Find one of our branches near you or contact us online for more information.

Contact us to find out more