Next month (July) will mark the launch of The Ministry – a co-working space and member’s club from the same company that unveiled the nightclub Ministry of Sound 27 years ago. Less than 100 metres from the back of the club and company offices, it’s a very different sort of venue to the one that first brought Londoners to Elephant & Castle.
Instead of strobe lights and a dance floor there’s a plush bar and casual restaurant space, an outdoor terrace, meeting rooms, a theatre and plenty of stripped back, natural light-flooded office space for hot-deskers, start-ups and even quite sizable companies – plus a selected community to rub shoulders with at the bar and in the next office as well. It’s like a Soho House for companies, and it’s already at half capacity with expectations that all the spaces will be gone by Christmas.
With the building still four floors of construction site, Imbibe got a hardhat tour with none other than Lohan Presencer, the current chairman and CEO, who told us that the new concept was inspired by the Ministry of Sound’s own offices.
‘When people would come to visit they’d always comment on how cool our working space was, likening it to a west coast vibe, and that’s because of the people we hire. The Ministry will be exactly like that, a curated community,’ Presencer said.
The Ministry has kept some elements of its sister site. The entire building has been designed with its sound landscape in mind alongside DJ Tom Middleton, who looked at psychoacoustics. That means sonically isolated rooms, soundscape planned meeting spaces and a DJ booth built into the bar.
But this isn’t going to be another night club. Far from it, in fact: The Ministry is all about health, wellness and balance. Yes, the people that throw a party every Saturday until 6am are widening their business scope to include day-walkers with a penchant for vegan and gluten-free food.
Is this a sign of the times?
Presencer and his team aren’t ignorant to the fact that their weekend ravers are living a very different lifestyle during the week.
‘Work is a large side to life, so why shouldn’t it be a great place to go. And we think it’ll help companies who work from The Ministry with their retention. Having a space like this changes the way people work,’ Presencer said.
There is a sense though that this is what grown up south London looks like now. From an incredible history as a record label that produced chart-topping hits, as well as launching back in 1991 in an area that was seen as unknown and not entirely a safe space to be, The Ministry is a decidedly adult step, taking into account both work and the fuel that goes into our bodies.
It’s not just the salad bar that’s promoting wellness though – The Ministry will be single-use plastic free and won’t be employing anything as nasty as bleach to keep it clean, instead relying on eco products to get the job done.
The space truly is impressive. The building has been gutted to reveal plenty of stunning wooden floors, industrial exposed vents and brickwork and a design that keeps all of this at the forefront whilst creating a comfortable environment. It’s stylish, modern and will no doubt inject a new crowd of young creatives into the west of SE1.
And this is just the beginning.
‘We’re already at half capacity,’ Presencer said, ‘so once this is full we’ll be looking to roll it out into other areas. We’re just so lucky to be able to create the first one right on our doorstep in such an incredible building.’
Leaving the building site with just under a month to pull itself from workers and hardhats into a polished space with members, we return to the club via a back entrance, barely a minute’s stroll from The Ministry.
‘Where the magic happens,’ Presencer says looking reverently at the stage in the main room where DJs play to adoring crowds into the am hours of Sunday mornings. It’s proof that at the heart of this company is still a belief in the music and the gigs. But 2018’s creatives aren’t just dancing on the weekends, they’re getting up and starting businesses on Monday mornings. And The Ministry is being smart enough to cater for both their indulgences and their work and wellness.