The Future of Open: Photos by Nick Ierodiaconou

The Future of Open research project by the London OI included live events starting 1 July - 3 July through an exhibition, with fringe events in the evening, followed by a live speaking event on the 6th July 2013 at Mother London.

An exhibit of projects illustrating Open across a range of sectors and domains, including education, community projects, technology / hardware, and finance.

Taking the Future of Open exhibit to Mother London at 10 Redchurch St, EC2.

Tristan Copley-Smith presents Open Creatives, a proposed archive of open source digital files across the creative field.

A shot of the Share Your Idea session at the Future of Open event where individuals pitched ideas that could be shared or supported through an Open Institute.

Visit the to share your ideas, and stay tuned for upcoming events.

You can also follow the Open Institute on twitter @OI_Ldn


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 to share your ideas, and stay tuned for upcoming events.

You can also follow the Open Institute on twitter @OI_Ldn


In Store for Sidcup by Nick Ierodiaconou

In the last 15 years high streets have been in steep decline, with customers choosing more convenient shopping alternatives online and in out of town shopping centres.

In response to this London Borough of Bexley has secured funding to help the Sidcup community explore new opportunities to kick start the high street and help it become the centre of the community again.

Between July and October the In Store For Sidcup team will be entering into their test phase for their new shared retail incubator space and as such part of their HQ will be transformed into a Box Shop (co-designed by Architecture 00 and featuring fittings by OpenDesk), a retail incubator to grow new shops for Sidcup, providing business entrepreneurs with a low risk opportunity to have a presence on the high street.

Box Shop is a single shop that has lots of different sized and shaped boxes inside - some of them larger, similar to market stalls. Each box, or stall, is available to rent to an entrepreneur who would like to sell their goods on the high street. A group of box retailers work collaboratively to man the shop, host events and activities and raise awareness of the shop and the goods.

This means that people who are interested to start a retail business are able to get going much sooner and with less risk that taking on a whole shop by themselves, with support from trading alongside other box retailers. Shoppers on Sidcup high street will have access to a wider range of goods, plus the sorts of social activities and workshops that many people have said they would like to see more of.

You can join in the conversation, share your views and keep up to date with progress by liking the In Store For Sidcup facebook page, and following @instore4sidcup.

- DS

Open Institute London website launch by Nick Ierodiaconou

How open are cities? That’s an important question, about social justice and democracy, as well as economic growth and the prosperity of the city in the 21st century. We know that cities are often places of innovation – engines for new ideas. What is less clear is how, as they 'succeed', they can continue to offer the generous conditions that enabled that innovation happen. As traditional commons – parks, pavements, libraries – are being joined by new kinds of commons around shared knowledge, open big data and resources such as Wikipedia, Creative Commons, FabLabs and Trade Schools, this project is asking: what are the new urban Commons, and how should they be governed?

This is an open call to co-develop a 21st century Open institution, starting with the OI London.

London has plans to develop an OI – an ambitious infrastructure that seeks to offer new opportunities for Open education, enterprise, and everyday life for its citizens.

This could be achieved via a range of shared resources; spaces, tools, and platforms. Which are then put them in a commons, where anyone can access them.

The first instance of the OI is being developed in London, backed by £50m investment from the government. And the institution itself will be shared so that other cities can create their own OI.

Visit the to share your ideas, and stay tuned for upcoming events.

You can also follow the Open Institute on twitter @OI_Ldn

- DS

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, read and watch more here.

Follow Wikihouse at @wikihouse or

- 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.


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.


A civic commons for Silicon Roundabout by Nick Ierodiaconou

Architecture 00 are continuing to lead proposals for a new civic institution for London at Old Street Roundabout. In the last few years, the emergence of an extraordinary cluster of young creative and technology startups around the area of East London have lead Old Street Roundabout to be dubbed 'Silicon Roundabout, and been part of the wider support from the government for Tech City across East London. Yet the roundabout itself remains something of a neglected underpass.

Working with local partners,  00 are developing proposals for a new civic space for London; an open 'commons', owned and operated in the community interest. It will be a building providing workshop spaces, exhibition spaces, event hosting, free workspaces, education and innovation accelerators: in short, a low-threshold point of entry for everyone – from the international investor to the London teenager who wants the opportunity to turn their idea into a startup.

The project will also include a significant upgrade to the whole public realm, including proposals to create a pedestrian peninsular, and safer cycle routes across the junction, which has become notorious as a cycling black-spot in the city.

Driven by the impetus of the local community and startups, 00 are working with the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, London Borough of Islington, London Borough of Hackney, the Tech City Investment Organisation to progress the project through technical feasibility stage.

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

"We have a last mile crisis" by Nick Ierodiaconou

From the HUB Westminster blog, an opinion piece written by Co-Founder of HUB Westminster and Director of 00:/, Indy Johar.

During the last year I have had the privilege to travel far and wide – talking to some of the great change makers from across the world. I have met well educated and articulate people seeking to reinvent the social economy  through new platforms for giving, sharing, contributing and trading – covering all sorts of markets – clothing, food, energy markets – corporate structures and financial systems. All of which very impressive, and yet I have left many of these amazing conversations unsatisfied, with an empty feeling that was until recently undefined and certainly not understood by me.

For outside these amazing meetings, as I recently witnessed in San Francisco their is a growing reality of homelessness and unemployment viscerally visible while the remnants of capitals from the last boom perish in a waft of smoke and hopelessness. Depression, crime and disenfranchisement increasingly prevail in the every day lives of the people. It is these problems that will not be vanquished by the elaborated speeches & civic technology of educated men.

Don’t get me wrong, we need to build these new platforms and civic markets and they are essential in rebuilding a radically democratic economy. What worries me is that unfortunately, we have destroyed the last mile in the chain to enable for this new social wealth created by the platform economy to be distributed in every last corner of our developed world...

Continue reading here.



The Common Room by Nick Ierodiaconou

The Churches Conservation Trust is trying out a new concept to bring St Laurence’s church on St Benedict Street, Norwich into re-use. It is a called The Common Room. Working in collaboration with The Churches Conservation Trust, 00:/ and Social Spaces are introducing the idea to the local community by bringing it to life for a day, on November 10, 2012.

What is The Common Room?

The Common Room could transform St Laurence’s church into a new type of shared space, made and shaped collectively by the community, and run on the principles of collaboration, connection and resourcefulness. Working through a co-operative membership model you could have access to the space, to meet people, experiment with ideas and start new projects for a small regular membership cost.

More than a coffee shop, restaurant, gallery or theatre alone - more than a traditional community centre, club house or office. You might pop in to make yourself a cup of tea have a chat and read your emails. Bring a dish and share a meal with others. Learn how to fix your bike, or the toaster. Or try and build your next big invention.

The idea of the Common Room is that it could be a social engine room for developing your ideas and projects.

What happens here would be up to you.

Logo design and artwork by Sarah Hollingworth Copy by Laura Billings

Sidcup High Street by Nick Ierodiaconou

Together with Social Spaces we have started work on an exciting retail innovation project in Sidcup. Responding to a brief for the creation of a retail start-up space on Sidcup High Street, we are starting to explore what 'retail start-ups' can mean in a structurally changing economic and social context.

What are viable High Street start-ups and how to support them? Inspired by amazing projects like Granny’s Finest (one of many many many great new projects we are coming across - they're not all about fancy scarves!) our hunch is that new combinations between social production and local exchange hold the key to unlocking skills, creating relevant products, putting the social back in commercial exchange and re-imagining the High Street as a meaningful place. It's the stuff generated only by collaboration, embedding ourselves deeply in a place and jointly exploring new value models and unlikely combinations.

Watch this space as we're about to immerse ourselves...

Scarce Times: Alternative Futures by Nick Ierodiaconou

00 with Alma-Nac and artist/designer (& local resident) Diana Matoso have been selected as one of four teams in the Architecture Foundation & Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment (SCIBE) Scarce Times: Alternative Futures competition. Our joint submission - a community-led vision for the Bromley-by-Bow area - looks to uncover and bring together existing initiatives with latent resources - to build a truly do-it-yourself template for regeneration. The team will be working up this approach together with local residents and artist/makers over the coming months.

Press Release:

The Architecture Foundation are pleased to announce the winning teams of our collaborative Scarce Times: Alternative futures competition.  The selected groups are:

COMMUNITY COLLABOR-8 (Naznin Chowdhury, Carlos Manns and Nick Wolff)

BOW-NANZA (Dominic McKenzie and Peter Morris, Signs of Life [Bromley-by-Bow Centre], Spacehive and 815 Agency)

00 ALMA-NAC (Joni Stenier, Olivia Tusinski, Chris Bryant with Diana Matoso)

A BOOM COLLABORATION (Mike Whitehurst, James Warne, Blanche Cameron, Gary Grant, Karen Ihlau, Evan Lizon and Mat Proctor)

The Architecture Foundation and Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment (SCIBE) at the University of Westminster sought to collaborate with four groups to work on a project with the community in Bromley-by-Bow, London. Rather than run a traditional selection competition we held two events at which teams presented themselves and their approach to the briefing document. Twenty-four teams presented at Event 1 (2 July 2012) and 14 of them continued on to Event 2 (23 July 2012).

From the presenting teams, the audience and the Jury – consisting of Nicola Bacon (Young Foundation/Social Life), Sarah Ichioka (Architecture Foundation), Moira Lascelles (Architecture Foundation), Flora Bowden (SEED Foundation), Deljana Iossifova (University of Westminster) and Jeremy Till (University of Westminster, Chair) – selected four groups with which the SCIBE team will collaborate over the next months to implement their projects. In addition, the jury decided to invite Alison Killing and Lutfa Begum + Sonia and Rania Khan to collaborate with one of the selected teams. Each team will be awarded £4,000 to begin implementing their respective projects over the following months.

Read more about Scare Times: Alternative Futures here.

The Rise of the Civic Corner Shop by Nick Ierodiaconou

00s Timothy Ahresnbach reflects on 'the slow but sure rise of the civic corner shop' in the latest edition of New Start Magazine.

Whether rural or urban, the examples above show us it is possible not only to maintain, but also expand the quality of service provisions in our neighbourhoods through ingenious combinations of mixed-mode investment and creative reutilisation of community assets.

What, then, can be done in order to foster the growth of such civic ventures?

Simply showing that these initiatives are indeed viable alternatives to the Big Four would seem a good start. Community shops require high degrees of community buy-in, and in order to encourage this we need to convince residents that such initiatives are indeed worth investing in.

Read the full article here.

Lights, camera... The Library Lab in action by Nick Ierodiaconou


The Library Lab has been up and running for five months now, and 00:/ are delighted to announce the project's extension till September 2012 at the Willesden Green Library Centre.

This short documentary on The Library Lab was made in partnership with CODOC, an award-winning documentary company dedicated to creating spaces for critical thought through media. CODOC are also based out of the co-working space at The Library Lab.

To find out more about The Library Lab, visit



David Saxby's RIBA Diary by Nick Ierodiaconou


"More self-interestedly, we sense that the formality of both architectural education and general practice risks marginalising the profession in an increasingly fluid world that is demanding new answers.  While the Arb-enshrined logic of consumer protection is understandable, real  innovation between disciplines requires a blurring of boundaries, roles and skills sets. Large and urgent issues face society and we need to pool everyone’s talents, based on merit not qualifications. Perhaps Arb and the RIBA should focus on this inclusive public good agenda"

00's David Saxby is a regular columnist to the RIBA journal, read his latest diary entry here.


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:

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


Scale-Free Schools by Nick Ierodiaconou

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David and Alastair presented the Scale-Free Schools project at the BSEC conference this week, opening up a new angle on the current conversation about delivering schools in the UK. The end of big capital spending on new schools through the Building Schools for the Future programme has left an acrimonious debate as to whether or not the quality of the built environment matters to the ultimate aims of education, and a vacuum of ideas for how we can design and deliver new schools in an 'age of austerity'. But the question very few people have asked is, were the shining new institutional buildings of the boom-times really the most appropriate model for learning in the coming decades? Can we take their most successful elements and apply them in a smarter, more nimble way? What is the role of the community in education, and the role of education in communities?

Scale Free Schools is a design proposal for a new infrastructure of education in the 21st century. What do the changing roles of educators, new ideas for learning, emerging technologies and constrained resources mean for the infrastructure of learning?  Off the back of the project, these two videos were commissioned by Architecture + Design Scotland.

Sense of Place Project wins high commendation at HCA Awards 2010 by Nick Ierodiaconou

00 worked with a multidisciplinary team on the Sense of Place pilot project to test methodologies for mapping people's sense of place in the Soho Road area of Birmingham as a driving force for a more bottom-up approach to masterplanning and area regeneration. The project recently won a high commendation at the Home & Communities Awards 2010. It was the only project to be highly commended within the category of 'Leadership of Place'. At the awards ceremony, Sarah Montague (Radio 4's Today programme presenter), said: "The judges were particularly impressed with the project's approach to engaging and empowering residents to make a difference to their lives and community."

The community website has been created to capture, harness and drive existing community initiative using the banners "Do (take action) Dream (about the future) Pledge (work together)". A four minute film (made my 00) summarising the learning from the project can be seen by clicking here. SH