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.
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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.
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.
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…
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.
And to follow on from the previous post, here is one on the WAF website “Time to start reading the financial papers”. Subscribe to the FT today to remain relevant…
00:/ were invited to take part in the Less Does More exhibition at the World Architecture Festival last week and presented this animation on the Right to Build project accompanied by the following manifesto:
Less does more
We are in a period of systemic change – the current crisis, like that of the 1930s, is simply the crystallisation of an ongoing transition between an old world and a new one. Symptoms of this transition which may be heralded by a new age of austerity, include the threat of peak oil, the need to mitigate our carbon emissions, the wholesale contraction of consumer credit, and the massive pressure for the reduction of public spending.
This moment creates a fundamental choice for our civilisation – a choice to build a world where were we unpick the work of a century through demolishing the middle classes and radically polarising society between the few have and many have-nots or to use this scarcity of resource as the catalyst to create a new foundation to our economy. The first choice leads us to a particular place where democracy itself is threatened and we begin a great socio-economic unwinding. The alternative choice is routed in a more sophisticated formulation of capitalism based upon use value and the accounting of externalities; a new, sharing economy. We are already seeing the seeds of such a future in social innovations from car clubs to co-working environments where we share the cost and opportunity afforded by an asset, or in films such The Age of Stupid which are funded via crowd sourcing with both the investment and return being shared, or institutions such as the HUB built via micro bonds, or examples like community co-build housing in Tübingen-Südstadt. Together these and hundreds, even thousands, of other small scale civil ventures are starting to build a viable alternative to the less is less for the majority and slowly offering a real alternative for our cities, our notion of possession, and our collective being.
This nascent future has fundamental repercussions for place-shapers and place makers. These new interventions suggest a new taxonomy of architecture where the propositional skills of change-making in a city are no longer limited to creating buildings but to new ways of creating shared places as genuinely shared assets through their design as open platforms working across communities, markets, institutions, & environments.
In addition, Indy took part in a seminar on Thursday morning with Cezary Bednarski & Roger Zogolovitch to “Examine how a particular architectural type (housing) fits within, takes advantage of and serves a particular social context, in both developing and developed worlds.
- Exploring how a radically rethink of approach to the typology of housing can create asset revenue and social value
- Tapping the social, economic and physical resources of a particular place
- Designing economic security and benefit into the building”
Do you still think we’re as safe as houses? Do you think there is a future in our right to build as an alternative way of building our homes and communities?
00:/ are this week participating in the Architecture Foundation exchange to Istanbul as well as the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona starting tonight wtih a presentation at the Istanbul Technical University. Istanbul is of particular relevance as a research ground as it has not undergone the degree of atomisation of societal structures that we have seen in London and by consequence Istanbul presents an opportunity to forensically examine the strengths and weaknesses of a living civic economy.
We see this as an opportunity to further investigate and discover emerging development models that leapfrog next-practice such as in Uganda, where banking infrastructure leapfrogged past high street banks and straight to mobile banking; or the energy leapfrogging as seen at a city level in Rizhao, China, where 99 percent of households in the central district use solar water heaters and most of the lighting and traffic signals are powered by photovoltaics.
The exchange should provide some fertile ground for such conversations….watch this space for updates over the next few days.
Last Thursday Indy spoke at the RIBA Research Symposium 2009 Changing Practice, along with an interdisciplinary mix of practitioners, theoreticians and researchers including Anne Lacaton, Keith Bradley, Stephen Hill, Liza Fior and Jonathan Charley. The symposium aimed to provide a context to present the challenges and opportunities to architectural practice – to look at and question the ways in which we operate. Amongst the talks there were some inspiring examples of how architects have strategically challenged the status quo, along with passionate rallying calls for us all to take responsibility for changing the profession.
It will be well worth downloading the papers from the RIBA Research website when they become available.
Back in April a few of us went to see this film by the makers of the McLibel documentary. In a similar vein, The Age of Stupid tells the story of human kind looking back on itself from the future (2055) and asking how we could have saved ourselves from a climate apocalypse. Its an insightful documentary, which really emphasises the critical crossroads that we are at – in how blinkered our society is to the damage that is being done by a small percentage of the worlds population to the world, and our inability to believe that there is a real problem. I’m sure there will be a lot of debate by climate change experts, climate change non-believers, etc … but the really provocative moment for me was the live Q&A session after the film. Having been shocked into the urgency of the need for pro-active change in our consumption patterns, the post film momentum launched straight into a cornering of Ed Miliband, putting pressure squarely at his doorstep and his actions at the Copenhagen Summit in December – seen by many as the seminal moment in the future of climate change. And beyond the content of the film, the way in which it was financed and launched is another fine example of the micro massive. The film was made possible through a combination of volunteering and crowd funding that ranged from small donations through to larger investments with a share of profits in return. The launch of the film was organised as a People’s Premiere with screenings simultaneously held at over 60 cinema’s across the UK, with a solar powered link up to the premiere in Leicester Square. Basically – the film would not have been feasible without the involvement of the crowd.
For me, the film surfaced many questions about the role of the individual – how disempowered many of us feel from being active citizens. And at what point do we stand up and become accountable for our actions. What will it take to shake us from our apathy?
Well – yesterday, the team Stupid launched the 10:10 campaign at the Tate Modern, that asks individuals and institutions to vow to cut their carbon footprints by 10% with the hope of creating enouogh mass momentum to be able to challenge the UK government to make the same commitment. Supported by everyone from Stella McCartney, Ken Livingstone and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall to the RSA, NHS Hospitals and energy company Eon, there will be the inevitable critics out there who will debate the affect of a single persons actions – but as we are seeing more and more, it is the collective action of many individuals coming together that is the solution – a solution made from simple everyday actions. Its not complicated.