For Yuta Oka, starting hotel brands with InSitu Asia – where he is a founding partner – across Southeast Asia isn’t quite enough. With names like Bali‘s striking Aria Villas Ubud and brand new Origin Ubud on his portfolio, his next adventure is District6, the new co-working space in central Singapore that opened in June this year.
As shared office spaces continue to spring up in Singapore, Yuta, who is also Chief Strategist at the award-winning lifestyle company Backpacker’s Japan (see the world’s best destinations for solo travel), tells us about his firm’s arrival in Singapore and District6’s role in fostering a more creative approach to community working.
Hi Yuta! Tell us more about your background and your company, InSitu.
I started my career at a real estate private equity fund focused on large scale properties around the world, and then co-founded an investment company focused on smaller scale resorts. After a sprint in the investment world, I wanted to revert to my original passion, to become a hotelier. A hotelier bringing impact to how people travel, eat, play, sleep, and work.
InSitu Asia is a Singapore-based boutique hotel developer and operator. We all came together to form InSitu as we shared the view that people’s lifestyles were getting more and more diverse, mobile, and global – and that the travel industry and hotels were not adapting at the pace of how these lifestyles were changing. We’re committed to stay entrepreneurial and to challenge the status quo in order to develop and manage hotels that cater to the coming generations.
District6 is the first co-working space that you had a hand in launching. How did that idea come about?
The opportunity arose due to the second-floor space at Odeon Towers becoming available, and we thought that it would make an amazing space for co-working, with lots of floor to ceiling windows and natural light in an amazing location.
InSitu’s team used to work out of other co-working spaces and we found that other members didn’t really relate to the real estate industry and real estate tech environment. We’d like to create a community that connects very traditional industries such as real estate, architecture, design, and hospitality, with cutting-edge technology and visionaries who are changing those traditional industries.
Why the name “District6”?
We’re located in district six of Singapore across the street from the Raffles Hotel and nearby City Hall MRT. We liked the idea of founding our roots in the neighbourhood we’re working in and be connected to all the other companies and shops around us. Six is also an important number in design, in coding, and of course, in Chinese culture.
Co-working spaces have been seeing a huge boom in Singapore in the last year or so alone. What sets District6 apart from the others?
I’ve mentioned before, in terms of community, District6 is focused on marrying less tech-infused traditional industries with cutting-edge technology and visionaries who are changing those traditional industries.
With regards to the actual space, we offer 23 offices, 50 flex desks, 20 fixed desks, three meeting rooms, and a board room, as well as five telephone booths. Our event space suits events of up to 100 guests and consists of a bar and large space with a triple height ceiling. We integrated Kurasu Coffee, a speciality coffee shop from Kyoto in our living room offering quality coffee to provide a more complete offering to our members. Being located on the floor right below the Loof rooftop bar is also a huge advantage, as our members have access to a rooftop bar after working hours.
Why choose Singapore for your first location?
Singapore is the business centre for the Southeast Asia region and it’s a very vibrant environment. We felt it would it be a great place where to start and make people connect to each other to create a regional ecosystem of like-minded people.
Why do you think so many start-ups, and even some larger companies, are turning to co-working spaces rather than traditional offices?
More and more companies see a flexible way to grow and to get in touch with their key communities in a co-working space . The co-working space gives you the opportunity to meet different people, potential partners, and clients in a fully-serviced office environment.
In a sentence, what does co-working mean to you?
Co-working is a collaborative environment where people gather together to exchange ideas and grow their businesses faster.
What do you predict the future of co-working to be like?
Co-working sets the way for a collaborative environment and space sharing. This has strongly modified the way people work and expect to work in a company. I see that people expect to be part of a network of coworking spaces, so they can move freely to different places. That’s why, for example, we have partnerships with different co-working spaces in Japan and we’re creating more partnerships to give our members the freedom of working from other places and still have a base here in Singapore at District6.
We hear there’s a new trend, “co-work vacation”, where freelancers head to exotic locations and intertwine job time with vacation time. What do you think of that?
The digital era gives more people the flexibility to work from anywhere with WiFi connection and a laptop, so I’m not surprised that people decide to work from exotic places instead of working from home. Digital nomads are a growing global community and it makes sense to offer places where they can meet and work together (and why not go surfing together after work?) Singapore, for now, is not one of these exotic destinations for them, but it’s a place where people pass through before heading to Japan, Thailand, or Bali.
What’s next for you after District6?
We are currently focused on growing our District6 community. We’d like it to become an established coworking community in the urban landscape, real-tech and lifestyle environment. Besides that, we’re conceptualising new city hotel developments which feature coworking spaces instead of traditional business centres, and we’re working on the first tented resort with co-working facilities near a surfing beach in Uluwatu, Bali.
Check out District6 for yourself at #02-01 Odeon Towers, 331 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 188720, p. +65 6914 2677.