The Future of Open: Video by Nick Ierodiaconou


video above

captures some of the 'Future of Open' day held Saturday 6th July - a day of futurescoping, sharing ideas and practice in the applications of Open both present and imminent. See the blog for access to the full stream of events on the day, plus slides from presenters. Enjoy!

Read a summary of the event from the OI blog here.

Visit the http://www.oi-london.org.uk/ to share your ideas, and stay tuned for upcoming events.

You can also follow the Open Institute on twitter @OI_Ldn


TEDTalk: Architecture for the people, by the people by Nick Ierodiaconou

Full video available now - watch here!

Designer Alastair Parvin presents a simple but provocative idea: what if, instead of architects creating buildings for those who can afford to commission them, regular citizens could design and build their own houses? The concept is at the heart of WikiHouse, an open source construction kit that means just about anyone can build a house, anywhere.

"As a society we’ve never needed design thinking more,” says Alastair Parvin, but most people -- particularly those in cities of growing density and poverty -- can’t afford it. Parvin, who was trained in architecture but chooses to make a career looking for ideas beyond its conventional framework, wants to change that.

He is one of a team behind WikiHouse, an open-source construction set that allows anyone to freely share model files for structures, which can then be downloaded, "printed" via CNC cutting machine and easily assembled. Parvin calls WikiHouse a very early experiment, the seed of what he sees as design’s great project in the 21st century: the democratization of production.

Text from TED.com, read and watch more here.

Follow Wikihouse at @wikihouse or www.wikihouse.cc/

- DS

Beyond feasibility: the road less travelled by Nick Ierodiaconou

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 – 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 – 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 ‘what’ of the feasibility in question – the tangible features of its vision, and operation that were to motor this financial recovery and beyond.

This can’t 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 – 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 – or indeed inability – on the part of our clients to venture beyond the 'feasibility study formula’ – 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 ‘evidence’ 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 ‘experts’ 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.

We’re faced with the necessity of approaching projects more openly and honestly – 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 Green’s 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.


Future Practice: Conversations on the Edge of Architecture by Nick Ierodiaconou

Future Practice: Conversations from the Edge of Architectureis 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: One of the other themes I'm really interested in your work is your approach to economy. I found a quote where you say: ‘it’s time for architects to start reading the financial papers’. [3] You seem to take it much more seriously than many architects or other people in this space. Economics is a territory that’s normally relegated to the developer or clients, we don’t 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: It's all the same act. The idea that we can disassociate one aspect from another aspect is an illusion. It’s 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 ‘hey, if we isolate it, we can deal with it in effective ways.’ 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. It’s an in vitro business model. That’s the more fundamental problem, that I think we’ve reached the end of this siloed idea of building stuff. That’s 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 – it’s about seeding an organism, and I don’t think you can make such hard distinctions between things. I always use the term ‘design venturing’; 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 it’s about this method of how you build systems, the ‘architecture of systems’, as opposed to the ‘architecture of brick buildings’. That shift is one of the big things we are seeing, because this in vitro modelling doesn’t work.


RH: It’s 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: 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 it’s 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 it’s 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 – 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 it’s 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.

- DS

Smart Cities, Smart Citizens, and Smart “Professionals” too? by Nick Ierodiaconou

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 of  “Smart Cities”. Organised by EDGE, and supported by the Italian  & 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 “social and intellectual capital” of our cities, seems an essential first step in this task. Understanding smart cities as an opportunity for us to radically transform the “intelligence” 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 “awareness” 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.  The potential in this respect seems even more enormous, and relevant to today’s challenges than a fridge that tells me when to buy milk.

However, after a day of genuinely thought provoking  presentations and intense discussion – 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 “social and intellectual  capital”. Perhaps that starts by considering how we are selves are doing things.


Trading Spaces: Radical New Collaborations for Local Economies by Nick Ierodiaconou

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:

We’ve been working on the Trading Spaces concept for about a year. It's exciting 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 ‘radical collaboration’.

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.


House or Home? by Nick Ierodiaconou

A piece on A Right to Build was published in the February 2013 edition of the RIBA Journal.

The UK has a housing crisis. It is not just a short-term supply shortage in the aftermath of the recession, it is also a deep, long-term crisis of poor quality, un-affordability, un-sociability and un-sustainability. How was it that even at the peak of its boom-time prosperity, Britain was building the second smallest homes in Europe? Why is it that only one in four households would even consider buying a new-build home, and that fewer and fewer of us can afford to anyway?

Read the full piece here.

- DS

A Right to Build: the next mass-housebuilding industry by Nick Ierodiaconou

A Right to Build looks at the UK housing crisis and how self-provided housing can scale up as a sector to provide a solution in the 21st century.

This week, RIBA announced the winners of the President's Awards for Research. A Right to Build, headed by Alastair Parvin and David Saxby of Architecture 00:/ in collaboration with Cristina Cerulli and Tatjana Schneider of the University of Sheffield, was awarded the President's Award for Outstanding Practice-located Research.

See other winners and commendations for the RIBA President's Awards for Research here.

Have a look at the full publication online here.

- DS

00 Nominated for Young Architects of the Year Award 2012 by Nick Ierodiaconou

Last night at the Jerwood Space, 00 were announced on the shortlist for YAYA 2012 alongside Bell Philips Architects, Hayhurst & Co, Coffey Architects, and vPPR.

As BD reports, “Of a number of submission from practices that were challenging the traditional role of the architect, the jury felt that 00’s entry was the most provocative -  and looked forward to quizzing it further in the next interview”.

We too are looking forward to the interview, which we understand you are all invited to, as an opportunity to discuss more openly what it is we actually do; community yes (although we would save “civic”), research yes (although we would say “evidence-based”), architecture definitely (although ARB, of course, might disagree).


Open Institute to be featured at City Hall by Nick Ierodiaconou

00 have been commissioned to exhibit an interactive display of their plans for the Open Institute to a global audience at London House (formerly known as City Hall) during the Olympics and Paralympics. The Open Institute will be a new civic accelerator institution for London, and the UK as whole; its aim is to do for technology, invention and creative entrepreneurialism what the Tate & Barbican have done for the Arts.

In recent years, 00s former home at Old Street has witnessed the explosive emergence of a cluster of technology and web startups. So much so that it has been dubbed ‘Silicon Roundabout’. Yet the roundabout itself, from which the area has taken its name, remains a conspicuous gap. The Open Institute will transform the roundabout into a civic institution; an extraordinary public space, a peer-to-peer university, a platform for investors and startups, and somewhere to go if you want to learn to code, to invest in the next big innovation, host events, or to turn your invention into a profitable business.

If you’re interested in shaping, supporting or being part of the project, do get in touch with us.

00 New Radicals by Nick Ierodiaconou


This video, a quick round of talking heads, was created in an afternoon as an entry to the 'Britain's New Radicals' project in the Observer, supported by NESTA. After we'd made it, Indy was invited to be a judge, so the video was never used. It was, nonetheless, quite an unexpected moment of forced reflection – on what we're doing, and why we're doing it.

- AP

We Made That by Nick Ierodiaconou

We're very pleased to be featured in We Made That's latest publication, "The Unlimited Edition, Issue 3: Proposition". Joost Beunderman from 00:/ speaks on "Fertile Ground for a Civic Economy"...

"It seems so long ago now; that famous dictum of Rahm Emanuel, the then-chief-of-staff of then-recently-elected president Obama, that one should "never let a serious crisis go to waste". Almost three years later, some would say that across the world, many opportunities have been wasted.

...We recognised that this new type of social and civic impact ventures can be found across the economy - and that understanding the behaviours of their protagonists can help us create the fertile ground for a wholly different type of economic development story."

The Unlimited Edition is a super-local newspaper focused purely on this strand of London. The intention is to record and explore the familiar, and to celebrate and speculate on the possibilities that lie in its future.

As part of the 'High Street 2012' initiative, We Made That were commissioned to produce a series of speculative newspapers. This unique run has been published over the late summer months of 2011.

- DS

00 commended by 2011 RIBA President's Awards for Research by Nick Ierodiaconou

00 was commended by 2011 RIBA President's Awards for Research for their project Compendium for the Civic Economy. The judges said:

'A topical source of inspiration and information for organisations and individuals embarking on collaborative community regeneration and place-shaping projects, this work is highly original and may be the first book of this kind written by an architectural practice.'

Congratulations to the 00 team that spearheaded this project: Timothy Ahrensbach, Joost Beunderman, Alice Fung, Joni Steiner & Indy Johar!

Read the full text for the Compendium for the Civic Economy here.


The Compendium for the Civic Economy: a quick genealogy… by Nick Ierodiaconou

So the Compendium for the Civic Economy is now at the printers and will be launched on Thursday with NESTA and Cabe – for visual evidence of the printing process, see pictures below (taken last week). We’re in countdown mode, but thought it’d be good to tell a bit about the genealogy of this book. We started talking about this idea here in the office in late 2009 / early 2010. On the one hand we realised that projects we had been involved with over the past few years, like Demos’ Urban Beach in Bristol and the Hub, all suggested a way of practicing spatial interventions which did not fit comfortably with the dominant urban policy narrative of the time – but which opened up powerful possibilities, experiences and conversations. On the other hand we recognised the deep crisis of purpose in the world of regeneration and place-making – a crisis that had become glaringly obvious in the wake of the financial crash, but that of course had been latent for a while, the inevitable result of the woefully thin value often created in the real-estate driven ‘regeneration’ projects of the past decade.

So we wanted to make manifest a wider range of initiatives, projects and ventures that collectively showed a glimpse of the way forward.

This was all about operating under a different set of parameters. After the crash, the absence of ‘big public’ or ‘big private’ funding made ‘more of the same’ classic physical infrastructure-driven projects not just pointless but actually pretty much impossible to achieve. So what were instead the projects that were relevant, viable, purposeful to pursue? We had organised an early series of debates about this together with the Architecture Foundation, and it also became the question that led to our book project and its 25 detailed case studies. The case studies range from citizen-built edible public spaces andmember-led supermarkets to new communities of practice for social entrepreneurs, and from locally funded superfast broadband and self-commissioned housing to peer-to-peer ride sharing websites. What the book shows is how these are based on the initiatives of an increasingly wide range of civic-minded pioneers in the private, public and social enterprise sector, and that crucially they are built on local strengths – whether existing or latent social networks, people’s skills and aspirations, or dormant physical assets.

In the office, we sometimes spoke about this project as a ‘critical coffee-table’ publication – because we realised it needed to be both highly illustrated and analytical. After all, we wanted to show, on the one hand, the tangible quality of the projects that we had researched, and on the other hand reflect on what is required to create the fertile ground for this economy to flourish and grow. Therefore we aimed our book to help build an evidence base of existing projects, and to give pointers to the kind of policies, attitudes, prototyping projects and conversations that local leaders (whether in Local Authorities or otherwise) now need to engage with if they are genuinely going to unleash trajectories to build new shared wealth.

The result? It’s in print, see below, and to be launched on Thursday. And more importantly, it is part of an ongoing conversation – we build on the research and / or practice of a wide range of people like Robin Murray, Tessy Britton, Umair Haque and organisations like Space Makers or those collected in the Spatial Agency project – to name just a few. Our book is part of a discourse that itself is flourishing and becoming ever more powerful – in sum: to be continued…


Compendium for the Civic Economy: Official Launch 12 May 2011 by Nick Ierodiaconou

Finally, after more than a year of blood, sweat and tears (and just a pinch of hard work), 00 will be launching its newest publication; Compendium for the Civic Economy – a book that showcases 100 existing civic initiatives that are transforming local economies and places in the UK and abroad. The official launch is scheduled for 12 May 2011 at 8.45-10.30 AM and will be hosted by NESTA at 1 Plough Place, EC4A 1DE, London.

Speakers include Pam Warhurst (Incredible Edible Todmorden), Sam Coniff (Livity) and our own Indy Johar.

To register for the FREE event, please visit:http://compendiumcivic.eventbrite.com/

From 12 May, the book will be freely available online atwww.civiceconomy.net – please check the website and/or our twitter profile @civic_economy for updates.


(what) form follows (which) finance by Nick Ierodiaconou

00_Whatformfollowswhichfinance I wrote this short provocation piece about changing urban project finance for an Academy of Urbanism roundtable organised last week with the Prince’s Foundation. It is also inspired by the project we are building with CABE and NESTA: a Compendium on the Civic Economy.

“It is a truism that in the rapidly changing economic, social and policy context, we will require a different set of mechanisms and pathways to unlock the investment streams required to re-think places. And if it is still true that ‘form follows finance’, this inevitably implies a different place-making mode. The financial logic underlying the Urban Renaissance has collapsed – so what will replace it?

The answer to this question is a contested terrain. We can, however, identify multiple emergent practices, some of which have been with us for some time now whereas others are more incipient. It is possible to outline some of the characteristic dynamics of these new practices. In particular we suggest three main parameters of change:

crowdsourcing fundng


use as service…”

[see 00_Whatformfollowswhichfinance for the rest of the 2 pager]



NESTA Local Knowledge : A case study on innovative places by Nick Ierodiaconou

00 were selected and commissioned to contribute to NESTA’s Local Knowledge report collection of essays on Innovative Places. Our case study explores The Hub King’s Cross, a workspace, members club and business incubator. It is centred around a series of flexible spaces for individual work, meetings and events, and is unusual in many ways such as its intensity of utilisation. Using qualitative interviews and roundtables with key individuals involved, we analysed The Hub’s underlying place-making strategy which seeks to create fertile conditions for different types of innovation. The analysis emphasises the importance of thinking both about physical parameters and about social and organisational tactics in order to succeed at fostering a different culture of daily behaviour amongst the users.

This is what we call place making for innovation – a necessity for 21st century entrepreneurialism. Have a read – see what you think…


WORK NOW series : office city city office by Nick Ierodiaconou

A diagram we produced adapted from an original by DEGW showing the shifting nature of the work environment over the last 60 yrs.Moving from an exclusive form of “Office as the City” through to a semi public figurehead organisation into the most recent typology as represented by The Hub model of a shared and inter sectorial “Office as City” approach.


WORK NOW Series : The Strategy Theatre by Nick Ierodiaconou

This is the first in a series of our propositions for the future of work called Work Now, based on our various learning to date on collaborative & innovative workspaces and progressive institutions. We’ve uploaded this proposition for the Strategy Theatre ontoslideshare- but in brief, the Strategy Theatre is a newsroom + think tank + augmentive environment + rapid response unit.

We understand that Agile Responsiveness and Smart Anticipation are critical functions of corporate institutions. Increasingly organisations must engage in unplanned systemic crisis with immediate mastery of the scenario. The Strategy Theatre is a new sort of place & function designed to rapidly scope, visualise and model emerging crisis, and support deployment mastery.

We hope you enjoy.