The town of Shibuya is said to be constantly producing new trends but actually is in contrast surprisingly old. Go down any narrow alley and you will find decades-old crowded office space buildings crammed together in rows. In Shibuya, the center of Bit Valley, fresh out of the gate startups are many, but as these companies grow they often relocate to surrounding areas such as Ebisu or Yoyogi. It seems that the rather unique office condition in Shibuya might also have an effect on this.
In Shibuya, meeting and co-working spaces aren’t scarce per se, but finding a place that can accommodate large numbers of people is difficult. If you’re planning on holding a modestly large event, you could of course borrow a conference room at a big company, but the majority of those will be thoroughly managed modern office buildings making it difficult to freely allow guests to come and go as they please.
I payed a visit to the new event and community space ‘dots.’, which opened on the 1st of August near the intersection of Fire Street and Park Street in Shibuya. The first thing I was surprised by was how open it was and how nicely the space was laid out in terms of visibility, and in spite of the 126 square foot interior, there are no pillars or anything obstructing your view. This what’s called a supportless open space floor plan, characteristic of new construction methods. The space can accommodate 200 to 250 people seated and, if you were holding a lecture, even people in the very back of the room would probably be able to make direct eye contact with the speaker.
I was able to ask dots. producer Yuko Narukama about the reasoning behind the creation of this space.
A year after we started up our engineer event information service dots., we were doing 2 to 4 events a month. We rented a company seminar room and were managing it, but it started becoming a real hassle negotiating renting the space, setting everything up, and dealing with security management and stuff, so that’s when we decided to make our own event space.
In addition to dots. functioning as a work space, they often hold hands-on programming study sessions geared towards engineers on weeknights and weekends. The space is laid out so that there are a lot of large panel displays installed around the room, so wherever you are seated you can clearly see the code that the lecturer is explaining while being able to follow along.
In my experience, when selecting a venue to hold a programming study session for engineers, the space should be able to hold at least 150 participants; dots. can accommodate more than 200. Another feature of dots. is that the event space and the co-working space are connected, so for example it’s possible for people who are co-working at dots. to casually jump into an ongoing study session or event they’re interested in without having necessarily registered for the event beforehand.
Going forward we want to make it so that high quality events and output continue being hosted here.
Narukama and community manager Hiromi Ozawa have also begun offering various event series drawing on their social network and knowhow accumulated over more than a year of event organizing experience. One event series features discussions with and talks from the CTOs of famous companies over lunch called “Lunch with a CTO”. Another series, “Allstars”, features hints and tips from top runners in many different technology fields such as iOS, HTML5, big data, Android, and more.
I wondered if operating such a luxurious open space in Shibuya, one of most premium areas of Tokyo, wasn’t a little over optimistic, but with dots. fees running at 500 yen/hour or 2,500 yen/day for their co-working space, and also with personnel hiring opportunities, seminars for IT company branding, sales promotion exhibitions for IT vendor business, displaying videos and merchandise from sponsor companies, and more, it seems like they can at least expect to break even.
Use of dots. co-working space is free of charge during their August promotion, so if you happen to be in the Shibuya area we hope you’ll stop by and check it out.
Translated by Connor Kirk