The Federation: our plans are progressing

Victoria: Hi, I’m Victoria Howlett and I’m the Federation Manager over at Federation House as part of the Co-op Digital team.

The Federation is a digital community hub. The Co-op Digital team and Co-op have put this together and it’s based on the Co-op’s ethical values.

Federation is going to be home to many different tech and digital businesses. It’s going to have a co-working floor with private offices on that floor which seat from 6 to 8 people. We’re also going to have hot-desking options on that floor so permanent desks, flexible desks, that will be available to book through the website.

We’ve been extremely lucky to be in contact with two wonderful ladies of Nomad Clan who are the artists and you’ll see some fantastic work that they’ve done throughout the north of England. We’ve ask them to look at the history of Manchester way beyond it being a Roman city and they’ve been to the archives of the Co-op and we’re going to combine that to create something really unique and unusual as it will be the first entrance point for the building, so that’s really exciting.

Roughly we’ll have 12, 13 private suites ranging from 3,000 square feet down to 300 square feet, so there’s a lot of difference there, and so were able to be home for lots of different companies and startup businesses.

It’s really exciting actually that we’re welcoming Thought Works into the Federation and they’re taking the whole of the fourth floor which is really exciting.

One thing that Co-op wanted to ensure is that they’re here to nurture, help nurture, businesses so that businesses can grow. This is really going to feel like home and for a lot of businesses and we think that that’s essential for businesses to be comfortable relaxed and grow.

So we’ve gone very neutral pastel colours, very relaxed environment, there’s Chesterfield sofas that are in yellow, there’s hanging wicker baskets that people can go and get some time out in, there’s picnic benches that will be around in the kitchen area just to relax on and then again, we’ll have the spiral staircase that will lead down to the coffee shop floor, so nobody feels closed off. We really do want everyone to feel like they can have a wander around and see see what’s going on and communicate really well with each other.

So very, very excited about the future Federation. Personally, I see Federation just going to go from strength to strength and will be around for a long time helping businesses in Manchester.

Victoria Howlett
Federation Manager

The Federation: a new space for the northern tech community

In October last year our Co-op Digital product teams moved out of Angel Square and down the road into The Federation, an old Co-op building on Balloon Street. Since then, our teams have been working on floors 5 and 6 but we’ve recently signed the lease to take over and transform the other floors too.

The Federation on Balloon Street, Manchester.

Now we’re working on our plans to create an open community of digital businesses and innovators in Manchester city centre. It’s great because the north has so much tech, digital and design talent. We’re opening up The Federation to attract businesses who share the Co-op’s ethical values: social responsibility, openness, honesty and caring for others.

Two people working at their computers and two people discussing something in the background inside Federation House

Kim Morley working and smiling at her computer in Federation House

A nod to the mothership

When they began working on the branding for our new home, our design partners Magnetic North delved into the Co-op archives for inspiration. They came across 6 commercial ships that were owned and operated by the Co-operative Wholesale Society in the late 1860s. One of the ships was called SS Federation and because our building is called Federation House it felt like serendipity.

It’s also fitting because a ‘federation’ is exactly what we’re trying to achieve: a group of organisations with a common interest working together. Our logo echoes the letter F that was proudly displayed on the ship’s mast.

A sense of community

So here’s what our plans look like so far.

The first 2 floors will be meeting rooms, events space and a coffee shop. In the spring we’ll be opening the second floor for community use. It’ll have desks and office space so that digital specialists can work, meet and share ideas. We’ll be launching the website in a few weeks to take bookings.

A tech firm will be using the the fourth floor and on the third floor there’ll be 3 larger spaces available for lease to ‘friends of The Federation’. We’re talking to interested companies and organisations right now.

Choosing friends of The Federation

If you’d like to be considered for one of the spaces on the third floor, your business will need to have similar values to the ones we have at the Co-op. We want to create a community that wants to work in the right way for the benefit of many. We’re still working out the criteria for how we’re going to choose who’ll share the space but our decisions will be based on the Co-op Ethical Decision Making Tool which asks:

  • what would our members think?
  • does it create social and commercial value for them?
  • what is the community impact?
  • would our members understand what we’ve done and why?

We’ll keep you posted on our progress as the building fills with talent from the north west. You you can follow The Federation on Twitter. And if you’d like to find out more, email me on

Emer Coleman
Technology engagement