WeWork has already pioneered new models for working and living – and now it’s planning on overhauling education too with its first school.
Dubbed WeGrow, the private elementary school will be designed by Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels, and will be sited inside the $20bn co-working startup’s new Fifth Avenue headquarters. Early renders from Ingel’s practice, BIG, show that play will shape the school’s design, which includes climbing walls and a netted ‘club house’ play area. Biophilic elements will also come from plant-lined walls.
Its design shows ‘the significance of engaging kids in an interactive environment,’ Ingels told FastCompany. ‘We’ve been trying to make the space more tactile and visually stimulating, more free and flexible.’
WeGrow’s curriculum meanwhile is designed around what WeWork co-founder Rebekah Neumann calls ‘conscious entrepreneurship,’ with business forming the backbone of teaching.
‘In my book, there’s no reason why children in elementary schools can’t be launching their own businesses,’ Neumann explained to Bloomberg.
WeGrow is currently being piloted on a group of seven students, one of whom is the Neumanns’ own child. The students – aged five to eight years – currently spend one day per week on the Neumanns’ 60-acre Palm Ridge farm, and the rest in a classroom in Manhattan, where they are given lessons from employees and members of the WeWork network.
She added: ‘If they are learning math, they are not just sitting in a classroom learning about numbers. They are also using numbers to run their farm stand, they’re reading about natural cycles of plant life.’
In autumn, the first WeGrow will open to 65 students at the brand’s Chelsea headquarters. It will relocate to BIG’s new digs in 2019, when WeWork moves into its new Fifth Avenue HQ on the site of Lord & Taylor’s department store.
And while WeGrow Manhattan will be the first outpost, the brand has ambitions to create schools across the globe: Adds Neumann ‘We’re going to have a school, God willing, at each of these locations where people can bring their whole family, and students can have a much more well-rounded global education.’
Read next: Inside WeWork’s co-living space in New York