Joining a collective // Workshop17

I am in a colorful market hall for creative and local entrepreneurs in the bustling Watershed building in the V&A Waterfront. Nice coffee spots, beautiful small shops and crafts, liveliness, big stairs to sit on. It seems more than a shopping area. Clearly this space is also designed for events. My attention is drawn and following the stairs, I notice there’s a coworking space on the first floor. An interesting place since the fusion of working, living, entertainment and retail has taken a flight. Workshop17, a coworking space located at Watershed is a remarkable example of this development.

Urban developments

At first sight V&A Waterfront seems to be a tourist hotspot, but this area appears to be a new and creative business center in Cape Town. A place in motion and full of renovations of old wharfs. A place where corporate headquarters are located, where new hotels are opening, a place with lively local markets and a place with an entrepreneurial vibe. Apart from the business side, I notice a lot of attention is paid to the cultural and creative aspects of Cape Town in developing this area.

Britta Damhs, Marketing Manager at Workshop17, shared with me this was exactly the vision behind developing the Watershed. The V&A Waterfront envisioned a coworking space in the Watershed building in 2014 and approached the founders of Workshop17 to manage the space. Coworking is a way to enhance connection and creativity, so a collaborative hub could not be missing in a place where bonds between local entrepreneur and conscious buyer, innovator and corporate, local and tourist are being made.


The coworking contribution

Workshop17 started their coworking journey in Johannesburg and has branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Paarl. Every coworking space has its own character and community, with the Workshop17 vision and signature as a clear foundation for diversity. Workshop17 works actively on creating an ecosystem with like-minded members. A place for and by everyone and a place where anyone has access to the conversation.

Something you notice immediately when you walk around at the Watershed location. I see a lot of openness and transparency. Accessibility is the word that comes to mind. The diversity of the crowd is striking, something which is still not common in South Africa. Luckily it is the way to go in the coworking scene, which is why this sector is a contribution to society.

The location on Watershed offers fixed and flex spaces, offices and also beautiful event spaces. On the day that I am visiting, the location is actively used for training sessions. I love the buzz. Especially when you consider that now and then a curious tourist blends in, opening his/her laptop and doing what needs to be done. Feeling at home, landing in an inspiring zone for a moment.

Empowerment & business development

Workshop17 is a clear example of how coworking can contribute to the development of cities and entrepreneurs. Workshop17 continues to expand because of the empowerment of people (recent opening on Kloof Street and The Harrington in Cape Town). The fact that the coworking movement contributes to the way we work is all too clear at Workshop17. Workshop17 is an ecosystem where members are paramount and where collaboration and thriving in your business is stimulated in multiple ways.

Everything is aimed at facilitating the members and creating friction-free environments with no hassle, hidden costs and maintenance. The idea of friction-free also in the design; the outdated hierarchical barriers are removed a much as possible. Walls or frames are just there to support the transparency and accessibility. After all, we don’t want collaboration or the formation of communities, the key of coworking, obstructed.

“We do what we do best by creation ecosystems while our members take care of their business”

Britta Dahms

Britta Dahms is clearly proud to share this space with me. It’s no coincidence that she is the Marketing Manager of Workshop17.

Britta has a deep passion for South African wine and art history and lives her love for marketing every day at Workshop17. She’s also the women who designs it all. She received her qualifications in Industrial design from CPUT, which covered both graphic design and marketing as well. Thereafter, she worked in the marketing department at the luxurious Ellerman House Boutique Hotel, then moved to the wine industry and in 2018, she happily joined the Workshop17 team. TNX Britta!

More on coworking in Cape Town? Get a direct link to our special editorial on the Cape Town ecosystem.


Interview & Tekst // Rosan Gompers

Pictures // Workshop 17 & Rosan Gompers

The Style Office is a storytelling magazine on urban work- & lifestyle aimed at the next generation creatives & entrepreneurs. We love to share ideas and stories on new ways of working and creative entrepreneurship AND we love to inspire you on a great work- and lifestyle // hashtag #designyourlife // read more about us and learn what we can do for you. We’d love to meet you!