Archive for the 'Social/Policy' Category

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.



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.

Sense of Place Project wins high commendation at HCA Awards 2010

November 1, 2010

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.


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.

Site Inter-use

October 29, 2009

site [inter]use

Stalled development site behind Ruston tower turned into 5 aside football pitches.

Knowledge Exchange: Cognitive Surplus

March 31, 2009

I was interested by Clay Shirky’s (professor at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program) term cognitive surplus. The technology revolution in the 20th century resulted in increased personal wealth, education attainment, rising life expectancy and the five day week – all resulting in free time. Shirky proposes that the response to the cognitive surplus was crisis – in the form of watching TV! How big is the surplus? Shirky uses Wikipedia as a measure – the whole of wikipedia equates to 100 million hours of human thought. The potential for user-lead consuming, producing and sharing is revealed when compared to the time spent on TV – in the US every year 200 billion hours of TV are watched. When people start experimenting with the surplus it becomes integrated into and transforms society. For example the Brazilian site Vasco Furtado – the website allows people to record instances of crime on a Google map. The information already exists as tacit knowledge but this platform allows its gathering and exchange, and exposing the weakness in the top-down system to disseminate this information.


we20 – the open source G20

March 26, 2009

we20 is “a public initiative to run alongside the G20, creating a bridge between the G20 leaders and you. The current objective for we20 plans is around finding short and long term solutions to the global economic crisis.” So the idea is for individuals to organise groups of 20 friends to come up with plans to fix the economic crisis. An interesting pro-active social tech platform to engage people in real debate at a very timely moment. The organisers of we20 have been talking with the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who will be reviewing them before the London Summit on April 2nd and there is the opportunity for some plans to be posted onto their site.

“The G20 world leaders and their expert teams are making plans to try and fix the global economy. If you think the G20 may need some help, we20 may provide the platform for you to create a plan and build the concensus you need to have an impact and make your ideas a reality.

You may have a burning passion to create a solution to a challenge close to your heart. Perhaps you are curious about where a we20 meeting will lead you.

This challenge may be a local issue, such as raising funds for a local market or sports team; a national issue such as how your government should spend taxpayers money or laws affecting your workforce; or a global issue such as trade protection, global warming, the IMF and World Bank or International Accounting standards.

we20 allows you to communicate and have meetings with your friends, contacts and many others to make that plan.”

Time to step up, engage and put forward a plan if you’re tired of waiting for others to come up with mediocre excuses as to why we should continue on the same old path.


Sharing Economy: Art Swap and Project Party

March 6, 2009

Another art project that is part of the East festival that explores alternative economic systems is the Art Swap and Project Party, an experiment looking at the value of art. Participants may choose to swap art for art (or something else of value). The aim is for no money to be exchanged, only value for value. The curators are questioning their subscription role by relinquishing it. Artists are being asked directly the question of value, both intrinsic and extrinsic, in choosing to participate (or not) in the exhibition and the art swap. Viewers, too, have their part to play. To acquire an artwork in the swap, they need to assess value without the benefit of gallery endorsement and pricing and determine their own method of payment. The final part of the project is the documentation of the art swap.

“It seems an apt time given the global economic uncertainty, with the acquisition and prices of art falling. Damien Hirst stirred controversy with his statement that “art is only worth what someone will pay for it”. But to those who refute this by saying that art’s value is intrinsic, there is the question of intrinsic to whom? Intrinsic via the institutional subscription process still leads back to the art market, even indirectly through the need for financing. Joseph Beuys said that real capital is not money but people as the sum of creativity of all individuals. This experiment seems one way to test that.”

Art Swap and Project Party, 5 to 12 March 2009, August Art, Wharf Studio, Baldwin Terrace, N1 7RU.


S-COOP: Alternative economic systems

March 6, 2009


Last night some of us went to S-Coop, the last in Whitechapel Gallery’s Street art commissions. Mexican artist Minerva Cuevas has created a new currency, the S-COOP, which is being circulated by Petticoat Lane Traders and can then be exchanged for ice-cream. You can buy the S-COOP coins for £1.20 or receive them as part of your change from participating market traders. When received as change, you are rewarded for your custom with a 20p discount.

The project is interesting as it explores an alternative economic system. This model dates back to the 1900s when English co-operative societies operated a non state-sanctioned tender (commodity tokens) that were exchanged for goods. Members would go into their society’s shops to buy pre-paid tokens, commonly for specific commodities such as milk, bread or coal, and use the token to pay for deliveries. Some of the advantages were: paying for deliveries without the need for cash and change, budgeting (especially useful when times are hard) and the amount spent would be registered for dividend payments.

blog_co-op-tokens1Cuevas touched on the loyalty reward model with her 20p reduction for customers. In co-operative societies the profits from the shop were shared with their members in the form of a dividend. The profits were distributed in proportion to the amount each member spent in the store. In the 1930s, members would often receive 15p for each pound they spent. The tokens would then be exchanged when the dividend was distributed – on ‘Divi Day’. Over the years each individual co-operative society has adapted the dividend system in different ways. Some use the traditional system, others distribute the dividend to community groups – I think this is what Waitrose does, customers vote for their chosen cause with a token.

The only supermarket in my hometown is a co-operative society and my parents benefit financially – by being members they receive dividend vouchers each year to spend in store (until a recent merger these were approx £600). In addition to the loyalty reward, also operated by other supermarkets, their membership brings a degree of empowerment, eg going to the AGM and challenging the over-use of packing or getting your local store to stop changing the lay-out! May be not operating at it full potential… but in these current times businesses may have to think about the added value they offer to keep customers.


Sharing Economy:Clothes Exchange

March 5, 2009

During our on going research into sharing economies one that has caught my attention is The Clothes Exchange started by Kate Pears in Melbourne. People bring along items of clothing, normally six, all in good condition. In exchange for each item you are given a button with which you can ‘buy’ items of clothes. There is a charge for attending events, about £10 (still cheaper than 6 items of clothing!) I find this example interesting on a number of levels. Firstly it is a more sustainable model of consumption – you get to consume and fulfil your desire of acquiring something ‘new’ without the continual production and waste.

It is also a fascinating investigation into consumer behaviour. Pears has gone on to do a phD using the Clothes Exchanges as a revealing social experiment. Pears found that at people’s first exchange they tended to use all their buttons – suggesting a common consumptive response – thriving on spending, a process of acquiring more than needing. At people’s next exchanges, she found they were more selective, taking home fewer items, and leaving unused buttons – using the event to recycle their clothes and experience the social event.

This brings up the interesting social dimension – the social element is part of the draw and potentially social networks are born from the event.


‘They take on the air of must attend social events.’

(How good are you? Clean living in a dirty world.’ by Julian Lee).

Pear’s found that people mixed and promoted their own clothes and in this environment conversation turned freely and unforced to sustainability and consumption issues. Perhaps the most important moment in the evening is the 30 minutes when Pear and her volunteers prepare the clothes – people have a drink, mingle and wait in anticipation.