22 Dec samesame at COLIVING INSIGHTS Nº4
Coliving Insights is a team of dedicated coliving professionals who decided to give others a voice in an ever-growing industry. Within one year, there were published four editions. This edition focuses on a wider market overview by doing a deep dive into the different phases: invest, develop, operate and scale. Filipa Meirelles, one of three co-founders of Samesame and responsible for the business strategy and marketing, was invited to write on how samesame operates and how co-living can be the solution to some of the most important social and urban challenges.
Coliving can be understood as a place where one sleeps, works and enjoys life. It’s about helping people find a new home, whenever and wherever they go. Because coliving is still a nascent industry, there are still many grey zones regarding managing its operations. But for us, in comparison to a basic hotel service, we consider convenience, comfort, a sense of community, openness to new experiences and sustainability to be key features of coliving – and we work towards fostering these same qualities at our own space. The key lies in understanding how we can fulfil our colivers’ desires and needs as to make them feel at home, even if they’re far away from home. This is one of many reasons as to why our service is not that of a hotel – it is much more personalised, unique and intimate; in other words, human.
Samesame is the first creative coliving space in Lisbon that is 100% Portuguese, as all our founders are from Portugal and locally-based. This project aims to bring to life a creative and sustainable neighbourhood in the capital of Portugal: a space made up of a coliving home, Samesame, two creative and artistic coworking spaces, Beco and Esquina, and our own sustainable restaurant and event venue, Insitu.
Samesame was brought into being by our urge to have a positive impact on the world. In addition to establishing a place where people could rest, create and belong/linger, we wanted to have our personal values reflected in the entire project – sustainability, community, respect, diversity, sharing, local and circular economy, art and culture – in the hopes of becoming a viable solution to some of the biggest challenges we face today.
Thus, our project’s four main pillars are: creativity, community, sustainability and micro-scale. Each pillar is connected to, and deeply embedded into, the other three. We believe these lie at the core of what makes us unique and unforgettable. In this article I will share how and why we have chosen to embed these aspects into the core of what we do.
As a creative coliving space, creativity is represented in everything we do. Starting with the brand’s strategy and culture, it is most obviously reflected in the architecture (that was designed by a young team of local architects) and in the high-quality furniture pieces from the 60s used to ensure a creative atmosphere. Creativity also shines through in the way the team engages with the colivers – through many events cinema nights, concerts and yoga, to name a few.
In addition, Samesame aims to empower emerging artists, locals and colivers by providing them with space and platforms where they can share their work, and helping them engage in partnerships that can enhance their reach and grant them new opportunities. This way, we encourage colivers to be driven by their own, unique creativity as a means to enrich their experience in a place that already answers their need for resting, working and of being a part of a community.
The community is our main priority. One of the most difficult challenges we face as a coliving brand is to fully understand our role as a team in the birthing and development of a given community. Our strategy has been focused on giving the necessary means to helpcolivers break the ice with each other, fulfil their sense of belonging and on keeping everyone engaged, while giving them enough space and privacy. This is a delicate balance that requires a lot of work and clear, strong communications between co-livers and the team.
As a means to enhance communication between all parties involved, and to foster such a sense of home, we have a host available 24/7 to support the colivers’ needs and to boost the community’s engagement with each other, such as during weekly events. Two other examples of how we work towards nurturing colivers’ sense of belonging are:
– During check-ins, we add each new coliver (and a brief presentation) to our WhatsApp group as a way to encourage first conversations between colivers;
– We communicate in an intentionally informal and friendly way and use the WhatsApp group as an inclusive and informative platform;
– At the check-in time, we offer them goodie bags with curated Lisbon maps, all the necessary information about Samesame and neighborhood and a sweet bite surprise.
The idea is that, later on, colivers will hopefully want to stay in the group even if they are no longer living at Samesame – this allows the community to keep on growing. In addition to the creative events mentioned above, we organise several inclusive moments such as weekend outings, sport sessions and weekly “family meals”, the latter being when everyone sits around a table and starts connecting and sharing with each other as they savour their meal – is there any better and simpler way to connect?
All in all, our purpose is to nurture our community’s creativity and sense of belonging by providing the necessary means of time, space and ambiance.
Samesame believes in an eco-culture, so we couldn’t turn a blind eye to what is happening in our universal home – Earth. Thus, we are committed to reversing this existential and planetary crisis by finding sustainable and long-term solutions for becoming a fully self-sustaining project.
Since the end of 2020, we have been working hard to significantly decrease our carbon footprint by introducing many different structural and lifestyle changes, such as the products we use to the waste we produce. We try to ensure all products involved are biodegradable, local and sustainable, and that a majority of our waste is recycled, composted or reused. In particular, plastic waste is kept to a minimum. These changes apply to all apartments at Samesame, our food and event space Insitu and both our coworking spaces, Beco and Esquina.
For example, we supply colivers and all other spaces with local, sustainable and biodegradable hand wash and dish soaps. We also refill empty detergent and soap packages, thus avoiding plastic waste. All toilet paper, paper towels and napkins are recycled, biodegradable and paper wrapped – in other words, plastic-free. Organic waste is used in our own compost that in turn will help us grow our own produce in our outdoor areas. We are also actively searching to partner with circular economy initiatives that help us reuse some of our waste, such as wine corks and glass bottles. All extra services are done by local and sustainably-oriented businesses, such as our laundry and cleaning services.
All produce and products served at Insitu are seasonal and organic, as well as mostly plastic-free. We consciously aim to ensure most of them are locally sourced, and that all imported products are ethically sourced, such as spices, tea, coffee and cocoa.
We’re also aiming to host events focused on sustainability that engage both colivers and the public – which, in turns, enhances our sense of collective purpose and belonging. Some ideas we are about to manifest are organised beach clean-ups, Lisbon bicycle city tours, hikes with outdoor yoga, meditation and workout sessions, sustainable agriculture workshops and natural candle making workshops, among many others.
These are only a few examples of the short-term changes we’ve started implementing. Furthermore, we seek to bring about long-term solutions to our carbon footprint, such as creating our own renewable energy and growing our own produce on a larger scale. In order to make this all possible, a part of
the daily accommodation cost at Samesame goes directly towards the purchase of sustainable goods and services – specifically 1 euro a day per person. That same 1 euro a day not only provides us with the financial possibility of choosing greener options, it allows us to invest in a much greener future as well.
Samesame thinks global, but acts local. This idea is deeply embedded into the other three pillars and in each of the brands within the space, not only shaping the services that we provide, but also being present in the choices we make and the suppliers we choose. We believe that micro-scale decisions and actions can have an immense and positive impact on the macro- scale world that we are all a part of.
Having a micro-scale-oriented approach allows us to be more dynamic and to provide a much more personalised service to our colivers, improving their satisfaction and overall experience. In this scale, Samesame is able to adapt the service to each customer’s unique needs and to build deep and close connections within the community.
Beyond the coliving space itself, our sustainable restaurant and event venue Insitu – a place that lives by the rhythms and seasons of nature – also embodies the same ethos. Being sustainably and locally oriented, it opts and advocates for local and small producers as its suppliers, thus empowering and supporting them. Not only is it low-waste (with the help of the domestic composter) and nearly plastic-free, it is also fully chemical- and pesticide-free since it only uses organic and seasonal ingredients.
This multiplicity of micro-actions and locally-oriented decisions deeply magnifies the impact that Samesame can have on its surrounding community, both colivers and locals living within the Portuguese capital.
Our actions also aim to leave a sustainable footprint on the environment and have an overall positive economic, social and cultural impact.
Coliving is a global movement that is shaping the future of how we live. It promotes a sense of liveability, accessibility and resource efficiency. By sharing spaces, food, energy, mobility and other services, we can reduce costs through economies of scale, reduce our carbon footprint and be in a better path to a sustainable world. It can also be the solution to the lack of affordability felt by so many people due to a highly expensive leasing market, and – last but not least – it can help combat the loneliness pandemic that has become so prevalent in the millennial generation. Furthermore, we are all living in a highly individualistic era, and in this sense, there is an urgent need to be part of and belong to a community – now more than ever.
We’d like coliving operators, architects, designers and our whole society to truly ask themselves: how should we live in the future? How can spatial design improve people’s health and fulfilment? How can we build homes that encourage people to be healthier and happier?
No one can predict the future, but anyone can shape it – that is why we find it crucial to rethink the way people live and to discover how shared living can help solve some issues within social and urban demographics. As such, shared living shouldn’t be seen as a trendy throwback to a utopian idea from the past; it must be regarded as a viable solution to some of the present’s biggest challenges. We believe in the power of building a community and co-sharing, co-creating and literally coliving with them.
“Sharing allows us to evolve from an ego to an eco- based culture”… that is the culture we want to colive in.
Find the full publication COLIVING INSIGHTS Nº4 – Invest, Develop, Operate and Scale at: www.colivinginsights.com/publications/invest-develop-operate-and-scale
Contributors of this edition: