Announced this week, WeGrow will be a public elementary school for children ages three to nine. The news follows the opening of WeWork's first gym in Downtown Manhattan earlier this month.
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has come up with the design for the first school, with renderings showing wooden play areas and enormous grey pods stacked like river stones, for clambering over.
"Playful and transparent, yet homelike and structured, WeGrow will nurture the child's education through introspection, exploration and discovery," said BIG, which has offices in New York and Copenhagen.
"BIG's design for WeGrow seeks to undo the compartmentalisation often found in traditional school environments and reinforces the significance of engaging kids in an interactive environment."
WeWork, which operates shared workspaces all over the world, aims for WeGrow to offer cultural education and hands-on learning.
"Curriculums will be created around meaningful local cultures and environments so that learning can be hands-on and experiential," said Rebekah Neumann, founding partner and chief brand officer at WeWork. "We will focus as much on the growth of our children's spirits as we will their minds."
Education is a major concern for New York families, as parents often choose a school based on price, reputation and location. Details about the cost of sending a child to WeGrow are yet to be announced, but scholarships are said to be available.
BIG's design for the elementary school will use structural construction to transfer this spirit-oriented goal, but starting from a theoretical framework.
"The design starts from the premise of a school universe at the level of the child: a field of super-elliptic objects forms a learning landscape that's dense and rational – yet free and fluid," said the firm.
Nature and futurism are key characteristics of the design, along with rustic materials.
"Modular classrooms, tree houses, digital portals and a vertical farm promote an inclusive and collaborative teaching environment," BIG said. "Concurrently, acoustic clouds, natural materials and neutral colours create a calm setting for the child's focused study."
The school is set to open its first location in Chelsea next autumn, and will accept admissions from WeWork members, employees, and members of the local community.
WeWork's portfolio is rapidly expanding. Along with its new education and health ventures, the company also offers co-living spaces. It recently acquired the New York-based coding education platform Flatiron School, and also bought the building that has housed the Lord and Taylor department store on Fifth Avenue for more than 90 years.