The ethos of x+why smartly merges design, technology and wellness to offer its community of businesses a cultural programme designed to inspire members to recognise the link between people, profit and the planet. Phil admits that not any old business (and no, he’s not being business ageist) can merely sign up and make their home here. x+why is (quite rightly) unapologetic about looking for like-minded individuals and businesses to live and work alongside and even requires a signed ‘purpose pledge’ in its member agreements.
The site, Phil tells us, has a long history of philanthropy, community and social action. It was the location for the original Salvation Army Mission Hall – which supplied food to the local area and later became the Salvation HQ. This historical significance has led to the team at x+why reinstating the building as ‘People’s Mission Hall’.
A major refurbishment of the existing buildings, together with a modern addition, was undertaken by Rivington Street Studio last year. The environment now wraps around a courtyard, providing two distinct ‘wings’. Within the reworked shell, Squire & Partners and sister branding agency, Mammal, have developed a concept for this first x+why workspace, creating an identity and design aesthetic true to its values, providing a flexible creative space over 22,500 sq ft. Inspiration was taken from the history of Whitechapel, specifically its heritage of tanneries and local markets, and its more recent reincarnation as an area for the arts, combined with a unique mix of cultures and traditions.