Phuket’s first co-working space aims to save our seas
Wednesday 4 June 2014, 04:26PM
PHUKET: From a digital age characterised by wireless internet, remote correspondence and borderless organisations, has emerged the latest trend and tool for modern professionals: co-working spaces.
A great alternative to working in isolated home offices, cramped internet cafes or barely-convenient coffee shops, co-working spaces are popping up around the world, and Thailand is no exception.
To date there are at least nine that have been established in Bangkok, and two more up in Chiang Mai. And now Phuket finally has its first.
Located on historical Phang-Nga Rd in Phuket Town, The SEA (not an acronym) is a homely, comfy and spacious shared-office and meeting point, aimed at environmentally- minded professionals.
“Every space is different and designed with a specific type of professional and concept in mind,” explained Krongkaew Soo-umporn, co-founder of the island’s first co-working space,which occupies the shophouse adjacent to the historical clock tower, and opposite the soon-to-open Phuket Provincial Baba Museum.
“Our space is themed around the environment, and particularly marine conservation, hence the name,” notes Krongkaew, whose nickname is Kaew, the Thai word for glass.
The first floor is a fully-equipped lounge-like office, complete with several large project-friendly desks, chairs, sofas, a coffee table, colour laser printer, fax machine, scanner and of course, a super-fast and stable wi-fi connection. There’s also a small meeting room with an LCD projector. Ideal for meetings of 6 to 10 people, this room can be booked for as little as B300.
But there are no computers. “These days, most professionals prefer to work on their own laptop, tablet or phablet over a decent wi-fi connection,” notes Kaew.
You can also purchase premium organic coffee and tea by the cup, or satiate your sweet tooth with one of the daily fresh baked goods, including excellent cheesecake on sale.
In keeping with the green theme, “We won’t provide any plastic or polystyrene cups or containers, so we ask people to bring their own reusable cups or containers,” Kaew said.
The ground floor also serves as a library, with hundreds of books, DVDs, studies, reports, guides and campaign paraphernalia on hand, mostly related to the life sciences and marine conservation.
“We’ve bought and collected most of the titles… Some have been donated and we will accept any educational books, whether on a donation basis or just for loan,” said Kaew.
As for target groups, Kaew hopes to attract mindful professionals, locals, tourists and anyone seeking to learn, share, update and exchange information about the health and state of the environment and especially the fragile oceans; so if you like to talk community service, the environment, responsible diving, coral reefs and marine life in general – this is the place to come.
Prior to launching the new social enterprise, Kaew had spent more than five years working on various marine conservation projects in Phang Nga and Phuket.
Her first foray into the local marine conservation scene came in 2008, when as a graduate student for Mahidol University, she joined the Green Fins Thailand project, working closely with sea gypsies around Rawai to compile a comprehensive marine life database.
After graduation, she came back to work for Green Fins, this time based at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC), focusing on promoting and implementing environmentally responsible dive industry standards.
After a months work at the centre, she went to live in the Surin, Similan and Lanta islands for several years, working under government grant support in various initiatives to educate Moken sea gypsies, focused on the conservation of sea turtles and other marine life in the parks.
For her, launching The Sea was the next logical step to ensure a continuation of her efforts and experience.
“It would be a shame to let all of it go to waste and collect dust on a shelf… I’m ready for something of my own, and so here we are,” she remarked.
Beyond the office, library and kitchen space, there is more space being developed on the upper floors. The third floor, or activities zone, with its wide-open hall and two small rooms, is ideal for staging small art exhibitions, training workshops or other team building activities for a medium sized group/company.
Perhaps the biggest potential of all though is on the fourth floor – an open air rooftop with a shaded gazebo overlooking Phuket and Phang Nga Rds, providing a 360 degree panoramic scope of the city’s bustling historic heart, from where you can almost reach out and touch the clock tower.
Designated as an “Organic plantation”,Kaew is looking to expand and improve on the current trial set-up of potted herb plants, chilies and organic rice, and is considering the possibility of implementing solar power and other cutting-edge, urban garden techniques and systems, such as aquaponics, for example.
In the meantime, some organic produce and plants are displayed and for sale on the ground floor, along with other souvenirs, with part of the proceeds going towards marine conservation in the region.
The SEA is open daily from 9am-10pm, but closed Mondays. For more information, contact Kaew on 090 070 9870, or visit facebook.com/theseacoworkingspace.
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