May 10th, 2013
Congratulations to the amazing couple Alice Fung and Tav Espian!
Alice, from 00:/ and the Hub Westminster, and Tav, frequent collaborator with 00:/, were married on 27 April, 2013. In true 00:/ and Hub style, the couple were married at Hub Kings Cross (designed by Alice Fung) under a wiki-alter surrounded by friends and family.
The wedding included English, Tamil, and Chinese ceremonies, and the dancing lasted all night long.
All the best to the brilliant couple!
March 25th, 2013
Concrete superstructure works are progressing well on site as Manor Works comes out of the ground in a very cold and snowy Sheffield. Built into a sloping site, the building steps up over three storeys to provide 1600 sq m of Workshop, Office & Community space and a new home for the Manor Development Company. The building is due for completion in December of this year.
Above, concrete specialist Mick from Northfield construction setting out the table-form props ready for the level 02 pour later in the week.
Northfield preparing the rebar for the level 01 suspended slab pour (snow permitting).
Craning in the rebar amidst freezing winds of South-East Sheffield. We only managed 15 minutes on site – lots of respect for the Northfield team out there all day every day!
March 21st, 2013
Co-founder of 00:/ and Hub Westminster, Indy Johar, discusses co-working on Monocle’s radio show “The Urbanist”. This episode looks at the people and ideas shaping our urban lives, presented by Monocleâs editor, Andrew Tuck.
Tune in tonight at 7PM or listen later here, through Monocle 24.
March 18th, 2013
Architecture critic and writer Tom Dyckhoff presents this week’s Culture Show, looking at architectural solutions to affordable housing in this time of crisis. The episode features Alastair Parvin from 00:/ and Beatrice Gailee, friend and collaborator of 00:/.
Alastair Parvin speaks to Tom Dykoff at the Olympic park about collective building in Britain, putting user-led design at the heart of the solution. More on this topic in 00:/’s publication: A Right to Build.
As the weather gets wetter and the risk of flooding increases, Beatrice Galilee travels to the Netherlands to find out how the Dutch have tackled the problem. In Amsterdam she visits a community built entirely on water and meets the architects who are planning to build similar homes in the UK.
Also in this episode, Tom DyckhoffÂ visits Berlin, where architects and social media communities have been working together to reduce building cost by cutting out the middle men when designing new neighbourhoods. Would this co-build model work as well in Britain as it has in Germany and Finland?
The once-maligned traditional terrace is making a comeback. Oliver Wainwright charts the history of this most British of builds as contemporary architects reinterpret the two-up, two-down to meet the demands of affordable social housing and offer an alternative to high-rise living. Finally, in this time of austerity, Charlie Luxton asks if it is possible to build a house for ÂŁ20,000.
Watch the episode on BBC iPlayer here.
Text about episode from The Culture Show.
March 13th, 2013
In a recent article in the Guardian entitled ‘Why pretend we know everything? It’s time to embrace uncertainty’ Suzanne Moore hit the nail on the head with a truth that few of us are willing to publicly acknowledge: that our professional lives are as much concerned with navigating ambiguity as with flexing the muscles of our specialist expertise.
Moore identified an unwavering belief in certainty as a highly valuable attribute, and conversely, uncertainty as the realm of the weak, poor, or faithless. Who really knows, she writes, whether Cameron’s refusal to sign the EU treaty is a good thing or not â yet experts are lining up to tell us it’s the best or worst thing ever to have happened.
This cultural attitude favouring certainty as an indicator of professional competence and expertise makes itself felt well beyond political and economic spheres. It shapes the tone and context in which professionals operate â in particular, the nature of relationships, including productive dialogue, they are able to engage in with clients.
I recently acted as consultant to a third sector organisation in East London seeking to re-fashion its purpose and identity in line with the changing culture and demographics of the area it has served since the Victorian era. Like most charities, it was operating in an environment of limited financial resources, and faced with impending funding cuts from public sector streams, was experiencing a genuine need to re-examine its offer and operations. They commissioned a team from 00:/ to research and write a feasibility study focusing particularly on ways in which the organisation could become more financially sustainable in the future.
We went about seeking to pair their vision statement with tangible objectives, working with the board of Trustees to map out the priorities and aspirations of the organization. It became clear early on, however, that in their minds, this was a task best left to others. In short, we were being asked to conduct a feasibility study without the organization itself being able to define the âwhatâ of the feasibility in question â the tangible features of its vision, and operation that were to motor this financial recovery and beyond.
This canât be an isolated case. One year ago, employment within the voluntary sector had fallen 9% from 2011 levels and by one estimate, cuts passed on by councils saw organisations lose up to 43.4% of their income. This year, employment figures are up – albeit on a part-time basis: more people working in temporary or insecure employment. In increasingly lean times â where both finance and time-resource are felt more accutely, the capacity of organisations, particularly those in governing positions, to navigate an emerging field of creative resourcing, procuring, commissioning and collaboration, is being tested. Ironically, it is precisely in such a climate that experimental approaches are needed, yet the same one in which (understandably) self-preservation, and related risk aversion, runs high.
Unfortunately, in some cases (and not necessarily through any fault of their own) the cultures of many organisations have matured within the confines of inherited bureaucratic procedures. Shaped by the demands of statutory funding applications, health and safety, risk, and outcomes assessments, they have developed an over-reliance on tried and trusted formats, and on certainty as a fundamental organising principle. But in times of uncertainty, this has bred a kind of organisational paralysis. In this case, we were grappling with a paradox: an unwillingness â or indeed inability â on the part of our clients to venture beyond the ‘feasibility study formulaâ â a process emphasising the research, analysis and regurgitation of previously known (and often needs-based) statistics pertaining to demographics, employment and economic exclusion statistics coupled with the expectation of a magical resolution at the end. Framing expectations and outcomes within this format, such âevidenceâ represents trustworthiness and legitimacy for the client, but lacks the dynamism and courage necessary to implementing step-change.
This is not a blame game: the problem is as much perpetuated by a hesitance on the part of âexpertsâ to step outside what is expected of them, as it is by Trustees who stubbornly adhere to the safe boundaries of what they already know.
Weâre faced with the necessity of approaching projects more openly and honestly â by accepting that, de-facto, projects often unfold in a process of open-ended experimentation. Several projects are already illustrating how embracing this open-ended process might be beneficial: Willesden Greenâs Library Lab in Brent, London; the Super Hero Supply Store in Brooklyn New York; the open call of officials in Deventer, Netherlands, to local residents for ideas, occupation and alternative uses in an industrial harbour all demonstrate how cross-sectoral working and experimentation is evolving and providing fertile ground for growing new social networks and resources around visionary ideas.
So where does this leave us? The bottom line is that comfort with uncertainty should be in-built into projects from the outset, even celebrated. Instead of looking to feasibility studies as a tried and tested template for defining future pathways, we need to be open to testing, experimentation and action-led feasibility with local residents as legitimate and effective means of achieving outcomes that better resonate with local contexts.
March 12th, 2013
00:/ is today exhibiting at the new, multi-sector, networking event âInnovate UKâ â a joint venture from theÂ Technology Strategy Board and UK Trade & Investment. Uniting the highly successful Innovate and TechWorld events, Innovate UK - which takes place 11-13 March, 2013, at the Business Design Centre in London – will provide opportunities for companies looking to accelerate their growth through innovation, international trade and investment.
00:/ will share their latest thinking with an estimated 4,000 UK and international visitors, as part of a showcase of the most innovative work happening in the UK today. The event aims to drive economic growth by stimulating business-led innovation and opening up international trade opportunities.
Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said: âAll our exhibitors are specially selected by the Technology Strategy Board and UKTI to feature at the exhibition and are ones that can demonstrate truly innovative products, services or technologies that have been developed here in the UK. Weâre very pleased 00:/ is taking part in the event and believe it is a great representation of the UKâs strength in innovative business.â
Nick Baird, Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment said: “Over the last two years, businesses that attended Innovate and TechWorld collectively generated over ÂŁ70m worth of UK trade; 65% of them identified new business opportunities and 77% said they learned something that would help them to innovate. By bringing the events together we hope to deliver even more success for UK businesses whether by helping them grow through innovation, international trade and investment or collaborative opportunities.â
For more information, visit www.innovateuk2013.co.uk
Follow on Twitter @InnovateUK
March 11th, 2013
Future Practice: Conversations from the Edge of Architecture is a new book by Rory Hyde exploring emergent roles for architects in the 21st century.
Future Practice features a conversation with Indy Johar from 00:/, amongst the likes of Bruce Mau; Reinier de Graaf & Laura Baird, AMO; Mel Dodd, muf_aus; Wouter Vanstiphout, Crimson; Camila Bustamante; Steve Ashton, ARM; Matt Webb, BERG; Bryan Boyer, Helsinki Design Lab – and a host of others.
An except from Rory Hyde’s conversation with Indy Johar:
RH:Â One of the other themes I’m really interested in your work is your approach to economy. I found a quote where you say: âitâs time for architects to start reading the financial papersâ.  You seem to take it much more seriously than many architects or other people in this space. Economics is a territory thatâs normally relegated to the developer or clients, we donât seem to worry about the money except how much the building costs. How do we reclaim this territory? Is it about getting involved with business models, business plans, thinking about how this thing might make money?
IJ:Â It’s all the same act. The idea that we can disassociate one aspect from another aspect is an illusion. Itâs an illusion of a seventeenth century Enlightenment model, where we figured out that we could deal with the world in vitro, you could take architecture and isolate it, you could take the business model and isolate it, you could isolate different components, and say âhey, if we isolate it, we can deal with it in effective ways.â That is an Enlightenment model of how you organise the world. Now, what is becoming apparent in the world we’re living in, is that in vitro modelling of the world isn’t able to cope with the complexity, i.e. the externalities all those models were generating. So carbon is just an externality of a model which doesn’t take account of certain things. Itâs an in vitro business model. Thatâs the more fundamental problem, that I think weâve reached the end of this siloed idea of building stuff. Thatâs the systemic issue.
We are talking about building ecosystems where there are no hard divisions between the built environment, the value model, between the impacts it has, between how it absorbs carbon, what materials it uses âÂ itâs about seeding an organism, and I donât think you can make such hard distinctions between things. I always use the term âdesign venturingâ; I think great entrepreneurs seem to be pretty good designers frankly, they tend to have a very good eye for those things, because they use the same skills. So I think itâs about this method of how you build systems, the âarchitecture of systemsâ, as opposed to the âarchitecture of brick buildingsâ. That shift is one of the big things we are seeing, because this in vitro modelling doesnât work.
RH:Â Itâs probably useful to talk about your Compendium for the Civic Economy now, as it seems to be the perfect manifesto of that idea of the spatial and economic ecosystem. What is the Civic Economy, and do architects have a role to play in it?
IJ:Â In a sort of high level sense the Civic Economy is an idea about how technology and a deep democratization of process is liberating a new way for people to organize themselves locally, and to actually create institutions and organizations which are fundamentally focused on a civic purpose. They can be for-profit, not-for-profit, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a new citizen method of organizing micro acts which can create a virtuous social, environmental and economic cycle. So whether itâs the 68 FabLabs all around the world, The Hub, or Community Kitchens, all these projects in the book are about the synthesis of social capital and investment capital to create a performative impact.
Now, the role of architects is huge, but itâs about place-making as opposed to the design of a physical product. Hosting and creating those flows and networks, seeding them, and allowing them to iterate, is what the 21st century architect will be doing, which is hugely significant. This is acutely democratic in terms of influence and power â there is going to be no single leadership, but democratic leadership. So I think the role of the architect is hugely significant, I just think itâs a new type of architect. And I think this is part of a longitudinal trend, this democratisation of capital, democratisation of power, democratisation of leadership, and this post-management world is opening up all sorts of new challenges.
Read more about Future Practice here.
And if you’d like to order a copy, go here.
February 27th, 2013
00:/ are delighted to have Alastair Parvin speaking at the TED2013: The Young, The Wise,The Undiscovered.
Alastair will be at the “Disrupt” session on Wed Feb 27, 8:30 â 10:15 (PST) speaking about Wikihouse.
For those who are lucky enough to be in sunny Long Beach, California or have access to a live TED stream, please tune in! Otherwise, we will be posting footage from the event as soon as possible afterwards.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far to Wikihouse,
Follow Wikihouse at @wikihouse
Or watch the latest video about the project here.
February 27th, 2013
On Friday, February 22, 2013, David Saxby, director of 00:/, participated in the “Smart Cities” debate organised by EDGE.
On Friday, I participated in one of the most engaging debates that I have witnessed so far on the theme ofÂ âSmart Citiesâ. Organised by EDGE, and supported by the ItalianÂ & Danish Embassies in London, and hosted by Buro Happold, the assembled group of circa 80 people managed to quickly move the debate beyond techno-utopias/dystopias of Big Brother type surveillance under-pinned by ubiquitous sensors and data. Yes, such an Orwellian possibility exists, but allowing the definition of Smart to be hi-jacked by corporate interests looking to monetise this domain, would be to capitulate at the first obstacle.
Re appropriating the much appropriated term, which Wikipedia helpfully defines as unlocking the âsocial and intellectual capitalâ of our cities, seems an essential first step in this task. Understanding smart cities as an opportunity for us to radically transform the âintelligenceâ that we as citizens and society at large can utilize to progress towards the ultimate goals that underpin aspirations such as the ubiquitous sustainability e.g. social justice, human knowledge, biodiversity, resource efficacy, etc.
Sensors, data, computing, are essential underpinnings of this greater âawarenessâ and create new abilities for micro-coordination in our actions – although I note we already have over 9 billion of the worlds most advanced sensors already distributed across the surface of our planet, and developed speech over 40,000 years ago (I wander whether the first thing uttered was a fear that someone could now report on your behaviour?) . That said, rather than the narrow technological potentials of the Smart City in , it is its ability to change our values and behaviours that seems most profound e.g. if we are can be aware of the provenance of everything we consumer, no longer we will be able to claim ignorance of socially or environmentally unjust acts; will new platforms provide us with new forms of (mediated) trust to share and cooperate in radically new ways.Â The potential in this respect seems even more enormous, and relevant to todayâs challenges than a fridge that tells me when to buy milk.
However, after a day of genuinely thought provokingÂ presentations and intense discussion â all anchored to a programmatic reality (there was a high proportion of engineers in the room) , the inevitable question of what shall we do arise. Compared to the genuine energy of early sessions, a relative silence fell over the room; a telling silence.
In the past two decades it seems that intelligent professionals, and I use this term uncritically, have become accustomed to expecting leadership to come from outside; to wait to be asked and to act as consultants to those who initiate or lead. We have become a source of answers, on a pay as you go basis. We have not needed to ask deep questions, make the fundamental propositions, or take the real risk of attempting something radically new.
As Wikipedia helpfully pointed out, Smart Cities are about unlocking our âsocial and intellectualÂ capitalâ. Perhaps that starts by considering how we are selves are doing things.
February 27th, 2013
00:/’s been collaborating on a number of projects with Social Spaces – The Library Lab, Trade School, The Common Room, and most recently, In Store for Sidcup.
Tessy Britton from Social Spaces reflects on these collaborations of mixing commercial high street retail and social outcomes, and how they can create radical new local economies…
From the Social Spaces blog:
Weâve been working on the Trading Spaces concept for about a year. It’s excitingÂ to be sharing a year’s worth of thinking about innovative ways of increasing collaborative activity on high streets that doesn’t rely on local residents to be simply consumers –> but partners, makers and social investors as well.
It’s an integration strategy that challenges the idea that commercial local retail businesses and social projects should continue to seek sustainability separately, but instead aims to find points of mutual benefit, engineering a creative form of âradical collaborationâ.
From this perspective both business and innovative social projects view each other as mutually dependent rather than mutually exclusive or competitive. The primary proposition to businesses is that by giving priority to increasing the social aspects of their business, they will be transforming their relationships with customers and developing a genuine partnership for sustaining the economic and social infrastructue of their local community…
Read the rest here.