Archive for July, 2010

Working with architect’s of the future

July 30, 2010

For the third year, 00:/ ran the Futureversity (formerly Summer University) ‘Get into Architecture’ course for young people who are interested in a career in architecture and related fields. It was a pleasure to run – the group was so inquisitive and creative.

SL

Scale-Free Schools

July 27, 2010

To a surprising extent, the educational architecture we have inherited today still reflects the Victorian, industrial-age mindset which conceived it. Although we no longer think about education in that way, we still design schools as institutional factories for mass-education: purpose-built, expensive, one-size fits all.

As so many aspects of learning and social knowledge sharing have been revolutionised by new technology, the architecture of our schools has lagged behind. This project we’ve been working on in the office sets out to find smarter, leaner, more responsive architectures for 21st century learning, which require us to think beyond simply the design of buildings.
AP

Lets teach our kids to be entrepreneurs instead of lawyers…

July 26, 2010

Inspiring talk from Cameron Herold at TEDxEdmonton on the need to encourage kids to be entrepreneurs. Its witty with stories from his own childhood in the skills he picked up in the everyday – from collecting unused coathangers from neighbours to sell on to the drycleaners to recognising a demand market in the form of 70 year old pensioners playing bridge and selling them sodas. Aside from the amusing anecdotes – the key issues here are that our educations systems and societal expectations are all geared towards pushing kids into fitting into box a, b or c. Those that don’t fit are viewed as wrong, troublesome or in need of help. And the result is a society that is simplistic in its approach to innovation and work. If you don’t fit in a certain way in a few professions you sit outside of mainstream economics and highlighted as an issue or problem to be solved (centrally) using the resources that are being gathered by an increasingly fewer number, or perhaps artificially sustained through the public purse in a seperate accounting column that does not deal with the systemic issues, or create the space to recognise that there is an issue in the first place.  I’d recommend pairing up this video with this article from the Economist “In search of serendipity” a review of ” The Power of Pull” by John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison, which describes  theose connector people in business that make things happen. The article describes how the book presents a case for a different approach to business – that the platform technologies of today ie the internet, – challenge the top down approach to business that is perhaps still the standard in business schools. These are skills with nuances that cannot be translated solely into textbooks. As described in the article, “the “power of pull”, a term the authors define as “the ability to draw out people and resources as needed to address opportunities and challenges.” They propose a three-pronged pulling strategy. First, approach the right people (they call this “access”). Second, get the right people to approach you (attraction). Finally, use these relationships to do things better and faster (achievement).” Is our education system or even societal structures able to identify, understand and nurture these qualities as part of the story of enterprise and innovation?

Time to rethink the way we educate the next generation to be more prepared by reunderstanding how we value skills.

AF

NESTA Local Knowledge : A case study on innovative places

July 22, 2010

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…

AF/JB

..and all I got was this lousy eraser.

July 19, 2010

On Tuesday JB, SH and AP dropped into the House of Commons Gift Shop, via a hustings event organised by the Open Left project at Demos. Representatives for each of the five Labour leadership candidates were quizzed on where their candidate stands in relation to various policies raised by questions from the attendees, including 00:/.

Highlight / Hazel Blears: “The Conservatives have stolen our clothes!”

Quick Summary / Very few signs of where the centre-left of UK politics might be going. The terms of debate were a little tired and familiar, deficits, schools cuts, ‘big’ vs ‘small’ government, Trident…  you might argue that the language being used by the centre-left is stil being shaped by the centre-right.

We would like to have heard a bit more about... /  Labour’s alternative to the ‘Big Society’, climate change and energy security (still no-one talking about peak oil), a long term strategy for tackling the North/South divide, the future of the BBC, 21st century citizenship and what the centre-left’s approach to house price inflation and the housing crisis might be.

Interesting Afterthought / As we left, one of David Miliband’s supporters was handing out copies of his recent Keir Hardie speech, one notable section of which suggests that the ‘Big Society’ idea is here to stay, and that the debates to come are more about its authenticity and implementation, something 00:/ spend a lot of time thinking about: “I take the Big Society seriously.  But it is a piece of doublethink – a small society maintained by voluntarism and charity alone. I want a bigger society, based on reciprocity not just kindness or charity, and I intend to make that a Labour issue.”

A video of the event can be viewed here.

AP

Friday Film : Secret Stash Project by Yi-Ting Cheng.

July 16, 2010

A lovely re-think of everyday objects that brings a smile to the lips.

In the words of the designer, Yi-Ting Cheng

This project is about concealing valuables, secrets, bad habits and personal information in our workplaces. Here, hidden spaces/ messages were created within 8 general objects such as wood boards, lamps and disposable coffee cups.

Why doing this?
We all have the need of hiding.

We hide our valuables from being stolen, we conceal our past from our loved ones, we never show our real side to colleagues, we all have secrets. Or, sometimes we just want to keep something only for ourselves.

How?
Utilize stereotypes and visual camouflage.

We make judgments based mainly on our experiences and what we see. This dependency on visual information can create large blind spots. Thus, usual stereotypes of how we perceive solid, transparency and lighting are employed in this project to play with notions of ‘solid and void’, and ‘true and false’.

One to watch out for…

WORK NOW series : office city city office

July 13, 2010

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.

AF

00:/ Sycamore Table prototype @Techhub

July 12, 2010

Friday night saw the launch of Techhub on City Road – a new workspace for tech start ups using a similar model to The Hub based on monthly membership subscription that can give you access to different subscription packages varying from drop in hot desking through to permanent desks depending on what you sign up for. Mike Butcher (@mikebutcher) of Tech Crunch and Elizabeth Varley (@evarley) are the people behind the venture having been in and around the tech community for some years, they decided one day that what was really needed was a place that could provide affordable workspace, meeting rooms hire and a space for events where members of the tech community from around the world could come and work together – or at the least work out of their homes for a short while. The evening was launched by Brent Hoberman – founder of lastminute.com followed by a live broadcast on sky news! With sponsors ranging from Pearsons through to Google, TechHub seems set to accelerate the way tech start ups are formed and work.

We at 00:/ were glad to be part of something so close to our way of thinking – and only down the road from us! So when we were asked to help out on the design, we took it as an opportunity to see what could be done on a shoestring budget to convert a very standard office space with office specification down to the ceiling tiles, into a space that would be more functionally suited to tech types. One of our solutions was the Sycamore Table (#sycamoretable) that we were able to prototype for the launch night. It is inspired by the Petal Table at The Hub (by Katy Marks) and we have learnt from our Hub experience that membership based organisations such as these, need their spaces to work flexibly and smoothly. So – the brief we came up with was that the table would serve the area allocated to hot desking area that could also be transformed into an event/hack space in a minimal number of moves making it easy for 1 member of staff to clear desks away. So the end result is this table you see here prototyped from MDF. The table can be collapsed to 1 leaf and mounted on wheels making it easy to roll to one side. It can seat anywhere from 3-7 persons with a variety of work modes – from ad hoc 5 minute meetings at the end of the table to standing up at the 3rd leaf or working alone but together around a communal table. It is powered by hanging plug in points that jack into the top of the table at a single point with a power points on the underside of the desk avoiding floorboxes and making the table easy to disconnect and store. The shape was defined by social curves that enabled collaborators to sit next to each other and share a screen more comfortably than if they were around an orthogonal rectangular table. The shape was also a counter effect to the office-ness of the space and allow multiple configurations in the space avoiding the repetitiveness of most office desk layouts – when you spend as much time working at a screen as these guys do, monotony is something to be avoided where possible! We will be making the final version with a few adjustments (such as universal adaptors to suit the international crowd of tech start ups as suggested by @edent), but if you’re interested in the real thing then pop down to old street and see how this venture takes off.

AF

Passivhaus

July 12, 2010

00:/ are currently contributing to two post-graduate research projects relating to the ultra low energy Passivhaus standard, which is becoming increasingly well known in the UK after widespread acknowledgment across Europe. The standard sets out rigorous targets for fabric performance, airtightness, and solar gain to deliver buildings (not simply houses – a common mis-translation) that require less than 15kWh per annum per square meter for space heating. The popularity of this appracoh stems from its focus on primarily energry conservation and passive solar gain to reduce energy consumption rather than expensive renewable technologies to offset demand.

00:/ are using their experience of designing two new build private houses and the refurbishment of existing dwellings to contribute to the two studies being underatken at the University College London and Univeristy of East London, which are looking at the current obstacles to the take up of the standard  in the UK, and the impacts the standard has on design respetcively.

SOAR WORKS, Sheffield – Work begins

July 9, 2010

Tuesday 6th July was our first site meeting for SOAR WORKS in Parson’s Cross, Sheffield. Ground works are well underway with the foundations being poured while we were there.

00:/ were appointed through the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative to work with SOAR Ltd, a community-led regeneration partnership, and Sheffield City Council. The neighbourhood entreprise centre will support and further enterprise in the aim to revitalise and improve the long term social and economic prospects of the local community. The building brings together many business types under one roof with incubator to large offices, workshops, artist studios, and meeting and conference rooms.  The project will be BREEAM rating EXCELLENT.