Silicon Roundabout’s ‘Start-up City’

September 28, 2011

Silicon Roundabout (Old Street, London)

London-based design practice 00:/ ∫(‘zero zero’), in partnership with Space Station, have published proposals for the redevelopment of the Old Street roundabout in East London. The proposals outline a new enterprise and start-up institution at the central hub of Old Street, Hoxton and Shoreditch; an area which in recent years has been dubbed ‘Silicon Roundabout’ due to the rising success of new technology and .com enterprises concentrated in the area.

At a time when much of the economic and employment news in the UK makes for gloomy reading, Silicon Roundabout stands out as a remarkable success story, with a number of successful British technology companies emerging in one small area, and myriad new start-ups seeking to establish themselves in the area. Yet the roundabout which gave its name to this phenomenon remains, by contrast, unloved and fallow but for a small number of popular shops which inhabit the concrete underpass.

Boosted by government support for the ‘Tech City’ emerging in the East of London, the effort is now on to bring together investors, backers and the tech community to build upon this emerging London success story. “The roundabout is a landmark opportunity to articulate and amplify what is happening in the area”, explains Space Station director Russell Chopp.

Architecture and strategic design practice 00:/, themselves based in the area, have led the design for the proposals. They are already leaders in innovative enterprise environments and future workspaces: having been co-designers and partners behind the Hub network in London, which provides collaborative workspace for social entrepreneurs. Not surprisingly then, their proposals go far beyond the kind of corporate office design often associated with business campuses.

“It’s partly about realising why this place is already successful in the first place”, explain 00:/. “This is an economy which works in a completely different way, it’s far more open, far more sociable. It’s about the aggregation of many small, energetic, and rapidly growing start-ups with a sharing culture rather than single, large corporate setup which have driven the design of the sort of office buildings we got used to during the boom.”

Their proposal has a number of key distinctive features. First, the base of the structure is not a corporate lobby or a shopping mall, but a large, enclosed public space.

“In a sense, it’s about realising that London already has another major public space, sitting there, waiting to be found, used and loved” say the designers. “It should be something like a cross between Trafalgar Square and Grand Central Terminal in New York.”

The design has to respond to the very tight constraints of building around an existing underground and railway station, located at the centre of one of London’s busiest traffic junctions. Its structure and construction would have to be strongly shaped by these factors.

The resultant building, sitting astride this new public space, could not be more different from the glass office buildings of the City of London a few hundred metres further south. Not a series of floor plates, but a kind of city-within-a-city.

Within this compact city would be workspaces for companies which range in size from large to tiny, as well as shared resources and flexible workspaces for start-up enterprises of only one or two people.

On the outside, the faceted facade is a vast, programmable advertising board, reminiscent of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. “We’re told the advertising space on the roundabout is some of the most expensive in Britain. Rather than resist that, we saw an opportunity in turning that onto its head, by opening the whole thing up. By selling the façade per pixel, per minute, the building creates a system which allows small, local companies, individuals and online campaigns to use it, alongside the big global players.” The result is a kind of neighbourhood-based ‘million-dollar homepage’, reflecting outwardly the energetic entrepreneurialism which is driving the change in this part of London.

Click here to download the press release as a pdf:

Silicon Roundabout Press Release_110928


00:/ is looking for a Practice Manager

July 12, 2011

00:/ is looking for a Practice Manager

Because of our growth, diversification and increasing workload we are looking for an energetic and proactive individual to support our day to day operations.

Essential roles and tasks would include:

– setting up and streamlining shared office systems, databases, etc

– diary management for a range of 00:/ staff including travel bookings

– event logistics

– daily financial and other office administration

– document formatting

– external office communications

We expect candidates to have a minimum of one year of relevant work experience and to master Microsoft Office, as well as have sound knowledge of (or lots of curiosity and appetite to learn about) Adobe Indesign.

…but most of all we are looking for someone who is independent, practical, flexible and upbeat: an enthusiastic problem solver and all-rounder who will be fully part of our team as we build 00:/ further. Our ideal candidate would be a person who is ambitious, has affinity with the culture of our dynamic office, and has the motivation and capabilities to grow into a more senior role through taking on increasing responsibilities for the running and operational management of our growing practice in central London.

Full-time / part-time can be discussed; starting date flexible, but a.s.a.p.

Salary around £21,000 p/a

Candidates are invited to send a letter explaining their purpose and ambitions, alongside their CV, to:

join [at]

Personal referrals preferred.

00:/ Highly Commended by the WAN 21 for 21 Awards

June 28, 2011

00:/s Scale Free Schools Proposals

Architecture 00:/ have been Highly Commended in the WAN 21 for 21 Awards, an award aimed to highlight designers who could be the leading lights of architectural thinking in the 21st century. While many of the architects recognised were exceptionally talented designers working within a field one might expect architects to work in (in particular the design buildings), 00:/ were recognised in particular as belonging to a branch of architects who are pushing the boundaries of design beyond just buildings themselves towards a more open-ended practice. We think that’s a pretty good way of putting it. The project which featured in the awards was Scale Free Schools, (view the page here and the project videos here) a project exploring a radically different approach to providing secondary school infrastructure in the 21st century. Check out the WAN news release here.

SOAR WORKS, Sheffield

May 18, 2011

We have been very busy with SOAR Works (a 3600m2 new build community enterprise centre)  on site these last few months. Here are a few photos showing the building coming together, from seeing the steel frame in the fabrication shop, to being craned into position, and then bolted and welded on site. With all the steel frame erected, you really get an impression of the scale of the building. Floor slabs have been cast into the metal decking and internal walls are well underway – the internal rooms are taking shape.
The progress on site has been very visual over the last few weeks with windows and glass panels going in. Photos to be posted shortly. SH

Visit to the Fabrication Workshop

Erecting the steel frame

The building taking shape

One of the large workshops with a window to the studio above

The Compendium for the Civic Economy: a quick genealogy…

May 9, 2011

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 and member-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…


the Compendium becoming a reality - thanks to Calverts our printers

Compendium for the Civic Economy: Official Launch 12 May 2011

May 4, 2011

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 at – please check the website and/or our twitter profile @civic_economy for updates.


ReEbla – books worth reading

March 4, 2011

As part of a challenge set by 00:/, a group of students from LSE’s Open Innovation course is setting up an online bookstore for the Social Economy.

From the website:

“ReEbla brings together a distinct collection of books. Based on a system of recommendations, ReEbla aims to provide customers with quality books that are favoured by inspiring personalities, be it field experts, practitioners or celebrities. These inspiring personalities are selected by the users. We invite everyone to come to our website and vote for the person whose book recommendations he/she wishes to see.

We aim to collect recommendations from the 1000 most inspiring people of our generation and compile a collection of unique books that are definitely worth reading.


Scale-Free Schools

February 24, 2011

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.

Home for the Golden Gays | UK Film Premiere at 00:/

January 10, 2011

On Thursday January 27, 00:/ will host the official UK premiere of the short documentary film “Home for the Golden Gays”, produced in 2010 for the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) for use as educational material in the country’s primary and secondary schools. The film is set in the chaotic metropolis of Manila, the Philippines and deals with issues including ageing, sexual identity, feelings of belonging and sense of place.

In Denmark, the film has sparked debates in The Church of Denmark, where rev. Pernille Østrem proclaimed that “if Jesus went to Manila, one of the first things he would do was to visit the Home for the Golden Gays”. It has also resonated with a recent campaign for private and public sector provision of retirement homes in Denmark catering especially for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans persons) groups.

A reception will be held from 19.00, and the feature will be screened at 19.30, lasting for approx. 15 minutes.

Read more about the film HERE


Everyone’s Games

November 19, 2010
Click here to view the presentation


On 18th November, Architecture 00:/ won a ‘live pitch’ event organised by the RIBA as part of their ‘Guerilla Tactics’ conference.
It posed a hypothetical brief to think about the design of the temporary structures to be used at London 2012, to provide information, catering kiosks, shops and event venues around the stadium. Developed in collaboration with Momentum engineering, ‘Everyone’s Games’ was 00’s presentation to that panel of expert clients.
Click on the image above to view it, or link to it here.