Interview: Space as a resource
spaciv is a tech start-up and family-run company in one: The “proptech” company founded by software developer Ulf Seekamp and architect Malte Köditz is a father-son team that has developed a digital tool for detailed and flexible space optimisation. Both bring their experience to bear from the fields of spatial planning and development of digital solutions and combine them in a tool with which they are aiming to intelligently manage changes in the world of work.
Disclaimer: This interview was first published on stylepark on 08/20/2021 by Alexander Russ.
Alexander Russ: Malte, you were previously a workplace consultant at HENN Architects and are now working with your father to develop digital solutions for needs-oriented space strategies within your start-up Spaciv. Can you tell us more about that?
Malte Köditz: With Spaciv we want to change the way society consumes space. The whole thing is a digital tool that enables us to analyze the relevant spatial needs on a very detailed level and to adapt planning accordingly. These days, space is often wasted because users don’t even know what they really need.
Alexander Russ: How exactly does it work?
Malte Köditz: We have developed a system that allows you to bring together personal data and spatial data. These are two areas that were previously always dealt with separately. Our approach here is the following: We map the model of the relevant organisation in our system by importing the relevant data in granular – i.e., very detailed – form. Another option would be to model the whole thing in advance in order to thus get closer to the desired granularity. Within our system we then analyze the users’ actual needs – in other words, how and where people work at the respective locations. This allows us to precisely record the time allotments for the relevant activities and to derive the space requirements from this.
Alexander Russ: What is the added value of your system compared to conventional spatial planning?
Malte Köditz: As a workplace consultant, you are commissioned by a client to identify a specific need. On the one hand, this is an exciting process with lots of workshops and corresponding interaction. On the other hand, however, it is very time-consuming. Added to this, such an approach makes it very difficult to get the aforementioned granularity that we can achieve with Spaciv. Each organisation has its peculiarities and with our system we can capture the complexity of this in detail. At the same time, user requirements are constantly changing because organisations are generally agile entities – for example, if new task areas arise and new project teams are formed as a result. Mapping these changes in the process of conventional planning is very difficult. It generally occurs with the help of Excel spreadsheets, with which you attempt to capture the relevant information – which is correspondingly tricky and error-prone. With our system, however, the data are captured continually, structured cleanly, modeled, and then the emerging changes are transparently displayed. We therefore provide a high level of detail and transparency at the same time.
Alexander Russ: Could you explain the term “granularity” again in more detail?
Malte Köditz: In our case, granularity means that we always calculate at the position level. Hence, when we analyze an organisation that has 5,000 employees, for example, and we then break that down into individual organisational units, then we can link each individual position – i.e., the employee in the organisation – to the required space at each step. In the process, we go from the rough to the fine and deliver results from the very first moment. This is where the potential lies for optimisation, not only in determining the actual space required but also in the possibility of creating individual worlds of work that are precisely tailored to the respective employees.
Alexander Russ: You mentioned at the beginning that space is often wasted these days. How are you able to counteract this?
Malte Köditz: Organisations generally plan their spaces speculatively. That is, they ask themselves the question of how much space they need right now and how much they will need in future. As a result, such space is then constructed or rented. However, that also means the end of the whole process – either you find your way with it or you don’t. This of course flies firmly in the face of the fact I mentioned earlier, namely that space requirements are continually changing. There are two ways of countering this: Either I factor in a buffer and thus end up with an oversized area – which is of course an unbelievable waste of resources. Or I start thinking in terms of dynamic systems where you can flexibly add space by booking a coworking space, for example, or with medium-term leases. That’s what we’re about at Spaciv: enabling you to link up space and its usage intelligently by means of detailed analysis and also continually adapt it. Determining the required space is therefore not a one-off planning step but rather an ongoing process that is readjusted again and again.
Alexander Russ: Finally, can you give us a forecast of what the working world of the future might look like?
Malte Köditz: I believe the future world of work will be just as diverse as it is right now. That’s why we need approaches that can intelligently capture and manage this diversity.