David Adamson attends the opening of a very impressive envelope

Last Thursday (29 February) I was invited, along with some other colleagues from Confidentials Towers, to the launch of Union Co-Living, the Vita Group's 'rent by the room' residential building. 

Yes, you read that right - I went to a party held to celebrate the opening of a fancy block of flats. 

And fancy it certainly was. Right on the toes of Aviva Studios, the Union Co-Living building is an impressive, imposing rake of a structure, with the dim yellow glow of current tenants already emanating from it as we arrived. 

Again, you read that right. While the building was officially opening that night, tenants were already ensconced in the place. 

I learned this as we got into the lift to go up to the party on the first floor - after valiantly accepting a glass of fizz from a woman on stilts.

"Are you here for the party?" I asked two young guys oddly dressed down in tracksuits, then spotted their shopping bags. "No, we live here."

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The fizzy foyer Image: Union Co-Living
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Stilts on arrival Image: Confidentials

I was none the wiser, as I imagine you are while reading this, so here's a handy explainer for what exactly Union Co-Living is. 

"Delivered under the industry term ‘co-living’ urban regeneration specialist Vita Group has created something that has never been done on this scale before across the UK, a rent-by-the-room development which totals 1,676 beds with 870 bedrooms launching in phase one, and a further 806 bedrooms opening 2025 in phase two (the largest co-living development currently in operation consists of 705 beds). 

"Starting with the apartments, the building has a host of apartment types available, from studios right the way to four-bedroom apartments (Quads), but the difference here is, residents only ever rent-by-the-room. 

"This means that renters could come as individuals, pairs, threes or fours and take the relevant apartment size, or choose to move into an apartment with others, but crucially, should one of their housemates move out, which is often the case, the rest of the party doesn’t feel any impact to their rent and bills when they go. They don’t have to try to find a new place to live, or a new housemate to move in, Union will help fill the room for them should they wish. Tenancies start from 1-month in studios and 6-months in shared apartments and can be any length."

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But what about the small issue of that thing that's had you surviving on ramen since October, the dreaded rent and bills? That's all rolled into one to save you robbing an off-licence at the end of every month, which is good.   

"Another subject which can become fractious for these sharers is money, that’s why Union’s rent-by-the-room tenancy includes bills. There’s no splitting utilities at the end of the month or feeling like one person isn’t paying their way. This also allows people to come and go freely, important for those who’re in this defining phase of their life and may want to move quickly for work, love or adventure."

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The looming Aviva Studios next door Image: Confidentials

While I'm fairly certain the fizz on entry isn't a daily thing (although you could always ask), or that Mercury Prize nominees Everything Everything won't be soundtracking you cleaning the skirting boards, there's certainly an element of pzazz about the place.

But how many offies will I need to rob every week to pay for this? The answer, I'm pretty sure, is none. 

"Rooms at this unrivalled location start from £935 including bills (utilities, council tax, Wi-Fi), with studios and better views commanding a greater price. Residents looking to upgrade their tenancy adding all the benefits of the Union Plus membership can do so for an additional £90 per month."

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Union Co Living Image: Union Co Living

As a lover of J G Ballard's High Rise I am fascinated by the apparent luxury of buildings like this and what lies beneath. But it seemed things weren't going to fall apart, and that I wouldn't stumble across someone barbecuing a Cockapoo over a charcoal pit, which I guess is promising. 

I had a fantastic time at this most unusual of openings, and if you've the money for it I reckon you'd have a good time living there.

For more information about Union Co-Living visit their website.

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