Posts Tagged ‘onwebsite’

(what) form follows (which) finance

September 28, 2010

00_Whatformfollowswhichfinance

I wrote this short provocation piece about changing urban project finance for an Academy of Urbanism roundtable organised last week with the Prince’s Foundation. It is also inspired by the project we are building with CABE and NESTA: a Compendium on the Civic Economy.

“It is a truism that in the rapidly changing economic, social and policy context, we will require a different set of mechanisms and pathways to unlock the investment streams required to re-think places. And if it is still true that ‘form follows finance’, this inevitably implies a different place-making mode. The financial logic underlying the Urban Renaissance has collapsed – so what will replace it?

The answer to this question is a contested terrain. We can, however, identify multiple emergent practices, some of which have been with us for some time now whereas others are more incipient. It is possible to outline some of the characteristic dynamics of these new practices. In particular we suggest three main parameters of change:

crowdsourcing fundng

market-making

use as service…”

[see 00_Whatformfollowswhichfinance for the rest of the 2 pager]

JB

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open source table design

August 12, 2010

The (LDN) Petal Table is the first in a series of open design products we will be relesing to help you make your own co-working environments. Share, edit, remake for your own needs and to tell your own stories. Let us know what you think. And if you can – it would make us smile if you credited us…

Launch of London Hackspace in Hoxton

August 3, 2010

London Hackspace had their space warming party on Sunday to celebrate their move into Cremer Street Business Centre so I went along to find out what was going on. As soon as you enter there’s the thrill of a workshop crossed with a mad inventors lab. I saw angle grinders next to a half repaired (or deconstructed?) bike, old school singer sewing machines, a workbench, an amazing open source 3D printer by makerbot industries that replicates itself and other tools and machines that i dont know the name of. Oh and a disco ball with flashing ligts. Hackspaces as i understand it, are places where like minded people can get together and tinker around, invent, make, play, exchange ideas and tips on many things. They describe it as a communal garden shed. I thought it might be limted to a few techy boffins playing with circuit boards and computer parts but that was just my limited interpretation of hackers. Actually the members of London hackspace don’t define hacker activity to a particular area. One described hacking to me as the act of taking, remaking anything – at London hackspace, this currently includes a planned knitting class (referred to as the first type of programming language), a lock picking sports club, bike repair shop, as well as the more techy activities of playing with circuit components and a tesla aerial (just because it made a cool noise when 4000volts was run through it).

There are quite a few precedences for hackspaces – I had previously come across the more well known ones such as the NYC Resistor in New York and c-base in Berlin – the Hackspace Foundation networks these spaces together. There’s clearly a real community feel to the crowd – faces being recognised from gatherings such as hackdays and dorkbot events.

Having decamped from a shared space with an archery range where they were located for a year, London Hackspace are hoping this move to their own space means that they can grow their membership but also have the room to really have fun. The monthly membership is £40 (less if you can’t afford that) it’s 24/7 access, a proudly anarchistic operation(there are no strict rules or preset definitions of what goes) and people act very much in a shared spirit evidenced by the donated tools and kit and their openess to talk to anyone that is curious in learning.

There was much conversation on the fact that spaces and places like this don’t exist easily, particularly in London because of the commercialisation of space. How do we value these activities that are beyond hobbies but not quite “work” – yet their value in creating a skill and knowledge base is invaluable – and primarily the self taught education of exploring by doing and making. This is the real classroom that should be present in all neighbourhoods – not only do spaces like this spread knowledge and other ways of learning, they are a class in civil society itself. Go down to check it out.

AF

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

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

WORK NOW Series : The Strategy Theatre

June 24, 2010

This is the first in a series of our propositions for the future of work called Work Now, based on our various learning to date on collaborative & innovative workspaces and progressive institutions. We’ve uploaded this proposition for the Strategy Theatre onto slideshare– but in brief, the Strategy Theatre is a newsroom + think tank + augmentive environment + rapid response unit.

We understand that Agile Responsiveness and Smart Anticipation are critical functions of corporate institutions. Increasingly organisations must engage in unplanned systemic crisis with immediate mastery of the scenario. The Strategy Theatre is a new sort of place & function designed to rapidly scope, visualise and model emerging crisis, and support deployment mastery.

We hope you enjoy.

AF

00 delivery

June 21, 2010

Our site boards arrived today – looking forward to seeing them up on site at Knutton Road for our SOAR works project in Sheffield!