Workspace of the Month: Inside Vancouver’s Hip Co-working Space, Werklab

The space is home to start-ups, freelancers and small-business owners
Inside Werklab's open seating area (photography: Britney Gill)

In our Workspace series, CB is featuring interesting, smart-designed and one-of-a-kind spaces across Canada. From innovative home offices to out-of-the-box co-working spaces to unconventional setups—like this beauty company run out of a rural farmhouse and this carbon-bike company located in a former auto body shop—we are looking to showcase the most unique and beautiful spaces from all industries. This month we are profiling the Vancouver co-working space Werklab.

Situated on an industrial stretch of Venables Street in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood, Werklab may look unassuming from the outside with its gray-blue exterior. But inside, the co-working space is an oasis amid whirring factories—a cool and serene refuge filled with plants and lounge chairs where tech start-ups, freelancers and local business owners get work done. 

Opened in 2016 by entrepreneur Christina Disler, Werklab is comprised of two spaces: its original, 350-square-metre workspace on the building’s third floor, and its airy, 1,100-square-metre 2018 expansion, one floor down in the same beam-and-brick industrial heritage building with a view of the city’s skyline to the west. “On my first site visit, I walked in and saw the three walls of windows, I was like, ‘This is pretty special,’” says Disler. In Vancouver, industrial buildings (like old factories) with good bones aren’t so easy to find, she says, and she knew immediately that taking advantage of the space’s unique bounty of natural light would be key. “Light is an integral part to everyone’s wellbeing,” says Disler. “Without good light, you’re going to over caffeinate and have that 2 p.m. slump.” 

In fact, Disler’s interest in well-being guided most of her decisions when it came to bringing Werklab’s design and functionality to life. “We want this to be a place that’s able to regenerate people at work, not be a place of depletion,” she says. To that end, Disler collaborated with Victoria-based landscape designer Sean Partlow to fill the space with plants for a lush, vibrant feel. Delineating a diversity of spaces within the main area was also important to Disler, so she brought in furniture from Vancouver company Article to help distinguish different “zones.” She wanted to have some spaces with cozy couches and loungers, some with communal tables and others with smaller tables for personal work. There’s also a boardroom, wall of private pods and a social kitchen where people can grab drinks at a big quartz island. “I wanted to create a space that could facilitate accessing different energetic experiences through design,” she explains.

And more than just work happens here; Werklab also features an expansive “Zen Den,” a multi-use studio with modular walls where daily programming—Pilates classes, sound baths, meditation and even wine tastings—take place. Some Werklab members go in just to hang out. “We’ve had people that’ll come in to read a novel—I’m here for it,” says Disler. “Who are we to determine what ‘work’ is?”

Here’s a look inside.

Werklab's front desk area
A custom cork-panel concierge desk and a painted, hanging glass partition by Vancouver’s Yuli Glass (who also did the windows in the boardroom) create a vibrant entrance to the second floor.
A seated table area inside of Werklab
Werklab’s heritage, beam-and-brick industrial building was a rare gem to Disler, who jumped at the opportunity to expand her original, 2016 space onto a separate floor.
A co-working table inside Werklab's Vancouver location
These steel-topped co-working tables are popular with start-up teams who want to easily chat and collaborate.
A photo of inside Vancouver's coworking space, Werklab
Werklab has private booths, or pods, where members can work in quiet next to a resting area. Here, a coral lounger by Article comes equipped with a basket of essential oils, and a wrap-around curtain for members who want to take a minute to relax. “I wanted plants, I wanted earth, I wanted texture and softness,” says Disler.
A private office inside Werklab
Rentable office spaces feature large windows to maintain the space’s airy, light-filled feel.
People standing around in Werklab's communal kitchen area
Werklab’s communal kitchen area has an open-concept design where members can take a break and socialize. “My mission with Werklab is to support and facilitate an entirely new experience of work,” says Disler. “We’re not acting like machines.”
A mural on the wall of Werklab by artist Julie Newton
A mural by local artist Julie Newton adorns the wall near Werklab’s Zen Den. The piece draws inspiration from music and books, says Disler. 
Adrienne Matei
Adrienne Matei
Adrienne Matei is a freelance journalist based in Vancouver, Canada. She writes about culture, technology, lifestyle, the environment, and more.