Meet your cool new office in the heart of downtown Manila

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First Coworking Community is workplace with open-planned interiors has room for 36 working people but can accommodate up to 60 people for events. It is open for everyone interested in working in a different environment, especially for freelancers and startups. Photos by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — One of the overarching realities of working life is that an average person will spend most his waking hours in the office instead of with their families or at their homes. This fact might have a chilling effect on some people, conjuring an image of a buttoned-up office drone chained to their desk for eight hours, but there have been numerous efforts to revitalize the office as a space for creativity rather than a sterile environment just for crunching numbers and meeting metrics.

This is what First, a new co-working space in Old Manila’s Escolta street, is trying to address: priming the workplace as a harmonious combination of exciting creative growth and productivity.

First1.jpg The space is flexible enough not to be designated for use solely by individuals or groups. You can pick one corner if you prefer privacy or groups can occupy shared desks and tables if they want to work more collaboratively. Photo by JL JAVIER

First2.jpg The lower part of the space can be re-arranged to accommodate functions and events like talks and discussions. Photo by JL JAVIER

Wide, floor-to-ceiling windows frame the historic structures of the street, placing the space in a historic context, as if to say that what you’re making on your laptop will someday be part of history. On a dreary late afternoon, when office fatigue usually sets in, the presence of natural light illuminating the desks makes working all the more bearable.

The coworking space is a logical trajectory for the First United Building as a creative hub. The building has enjoyed a renewed growth since the opening of 98B COLLABoratory’s business incubator, Hub: Make Lab, and the addition of the coffee shop, The Den, and the drinking fixture, Fred’s Revolucion, all within a span of a few months in 2016. The co-working space furthers the creative ecosystem of the community.

First5.jpg “First is a showcase of how progressive Escolta can be with the help of creative thinkers and startups in the hopes that it can draw a revived attention to the potentials of locating not just the First United Building, but also other buildings along Escolta and maybe other districts,” says architect Angelo Ray Serrano. Photo by JL JAVIER

First4.jpg Wide, floor-to-ceiling windows frame the historic structures of the street, placing the space in a historic context, with views of neoclassical buildings Regina and Roman Santos and Leandro Locsin modernist, Syvel’s. Photo by JL JAVIER

“It is part of an overarching effort by Robert and Lorraine Sylianteng to present their spaces to artists, startups, and creatives,” says architect Angelo Ray Serrano of One/Zero Design Collective. First is a collaboration between the Syliantengs, One/Zero, and the brand agency The Public School Manila, the latter being two creative firms who have called Escolta their home.

“First is a showcase of how progressive Escolta can be with the help of creative thinkers and startups in the hopes that it can draw a revived attention to the potentials of locating not just the First United Building, but also other buildings along Escolta and maybe other districts,” Serrano adds.

First CC Poster.png A branding material for First Coworking Community by The Public School Manila. The design elements are inspired by the art deco architecture of the First United Building. Photo by JL JAVIER

The open-planned interiors has a seating capacity of 36 people but can accommodate up to 60 people. The space is designed for flexible use, with niches for people who want to have brainstorming sessions by the window for a relaxed environment, or hole in a more private setting. There is a long table for conferences, and shared desks at the lower half of the room for more collaborative users.

First is in its activation phase and its creators hope to build the space around the needs of the community that will eventually spring from it.

“We want to present a space where creatives won’t have to worry about actual office management and focus more on creating,” says Serrano. “As a creative myself, I draw inspiration from the space’s history and its possibilities.”

"The First United Building has an interesting mix of creatives: 98B COLLABoratory pioneering artist initiatives in Escolta for half a decade now, architects, urban planners, visual artists, photographers, and social entrepreneurs,” he adds. “First aims to complement current efforts, like the Hub: Make Lab, by presenting an office environment that is inspired by this community building.”

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First Coworking Community is located at 5/F First United Building, Escolta St., Manila. For rates and more information, visit their Facebook page.