“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller
This year in Atelier 6 we continued to explore a more activist design approach. We looked at how the specific skill sets of architects and designers can facilitate and promote and broadcast social innovation.
Students got involved with environmental activist groups such as Climate Camp, Transition Town and Green Drinks, documenting their experiences online through blogs. We simultaneously started with a hands-on design project to promote localised food production in Hasdpen Garden, Somerset, which resulted in a prototype for a garden shed with real clients. One project will actually be built in the summer.
All of these experiences were then transferred to the development of a Headquarters building for one or several environmental groups in the urban environment of Hackney Wick.
The field trip was to Berlin, where we visited buildings that came to be through alternative modes of realisation, ranging form entrepreneurial architecture to legalised squats.
For the past few months WAG have been working closely with EXP on the development and launch of new Archigram Archival Project website.
The Archigram Archival Project makes the work of the seminal architectural group Archigram available free online for public viewing and academic study. The project was run by EXP, the architectural research group at the University of Westminster, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and made possible by the members of Archigram and their heirs, who retain copyright of all images.
Archigram Began Life as a Magazine produced at home by the members of the group, showing experimental work to a growing, global audience. Nine (and a half) seminal, individually designed, hugely influential, and now very rare magazines were produced between 1961 and 1974. The last ‘half’ was an update on the group’s office work rather than a ‘full’ Archigram magazine.
More Than 200 Projects are included in the Archigram Archival Project. The AAP uses the group’s mainly chronological numbering system, which includes projects done by members before they met; the Archigram magazines (grouped together at no 100); work done by Archigram as a group between 1961 and 1974, as well as later exhibitions, books, magazines and evolutions of Archigram projects.
The site officially launches next Monday, 19th April 2010.
Taking place in the capital’s most exciting venue, the Truman Brewery, a vast reclaimed industrial site in Brick Lane, Tent London is the most comprehensive and diverse design event of the year, showing art and architecture, vintage and contemporary design by emerging and established designers from around the world.
Open Tables is a software application and a spatial environment, which researches and facilitates collaborative working between individuals and groups. The core purpose of Open Tables is to explore the potential for new kinds of collaborative working to emerge in spaces that combine analogue and digital modes of interaction: engaging both the mind and the senses in the navigation and production of information.
Come and see us at Tent London to talk to us about the project. We will be available at the stand throughout the exhibition.
Tent London opening times:
Thursday 18 September: 10.00 – 20.00hrs
Friday 19 September: 10.00 – 20.00hrs
Saturday 20 September: 10.00 – 20.00hrs
Sunday 21 September: 11.00 – 17.00hrs
To mark the launch of the Open Tables website, and the forthcoming opening of the first physical installation of Open Tables as the Workspace Group (http://www.workspacegroup.co.uk) Urbantine installation at the Tent London (http://www.tentlondon.co.uk) design event, we are pleased to announce that the web-app element (http://www.opntables.com) of Open Tables is now complete, we are issuing a Call for Feeds.
Open Tables (OT) is an experimental new kind of collaborative working environment. For the Tent Urbantine installation we have defined four research topic areas, looking at contemporary design issues around sustainability, workplace environments, and ubiquitous computing. However, OT can be set up to research any topic depending upon the needs and interests of the client/participant/co-designer – whether bike design or stock markets – and we anticipate producing many OT variations in the future.
At the heart of Open Tables is the OT WebApp, the central repository of discussion material. It’s purpose is to organize information in a way relevant to the topic discussed. Items are collected off the web from a number of defined web feeds. Items are collected and collated into topics using the tags that the describe those items. The WebApp allows OT participants to browse items, filter by topic, tag and mark relevant or rejected depending upon whether you think this item is relevant to the discussed topic or not. You can also leave comments for each item.
Within the OT physical installation the content is interacted with through a series of physical spatial interfaces. The WebApp has a number of XML outputs which allow interface devices at the installation to communicate to one another. Item modified in the physical installation is automaticly updated on the webapp. This also works vice versa. Whilst the information displayed on the webapp is in a particular, already familiar web format, the same information in the installation is displayed through a series of spatial and physical conditions, aimed at promoting social interaction.
On the web, the OT WebApp can be engaged with through the OT website. Feel free to browse/tag/relate items. All information is collected and displayed in the space relevant to generate discussion. If you register you are also able to add items yourself as well as subscribe to our newsletter to be notified where next physical installation will be taking place.
The four research topics that OT is currently running are:
SUSTAINABILITY IN EDUCATION
GLOBAL NETWORKS AND THE INTERACTIVE EVERYDAY
COLLABORATIVE WORKING ENVIRONMENTS
If you have a blog, or would like to recommend a website which addresses any of these issues, and you would like to have your content fed into the OT system for the Tent Urbantine installation, then please submit your feed to email@example.com
The feeds that you submit to the Sustainability in Education topic will be feeding into a live EU funded research project into design education, and will be shown at the DEEDS 360 degrees conference (http://artsresearch.brighton.ac.uk/events/deeds-360degrees) in Brighton on Saturday 20th September 2008.
For more information about Open Tables, please visit http://www.opntables.com or our blog http://blog.opntables.com or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Tables is a Working Architecture Group [WAG] project. http://www.wag-architecture.co.uk
WAG are lead contributors to the ‘Architecture of Media’ exhibition at the Nous Gallery, at 100 Gifford Street, Kings Cross, London, N1 0DF. The work will be on display from September 11th to October 2nd 2008.
The exhibition documents WAG’s winning scheme for the Workspace Group Urbantine Project®Tent competition, and the runners-up schemes
The exhibition is launching with a panel discussion at 7.45 pm on September 11th, which should be interesting. I will be contributing to the discussion with the other invited contributors listed below. The discussion will address issues around new craftsmanship, the analogue space of virtual communication, sensory environments and adaptive structures.
Lesley Gavin [BT futurologists]
Olivier Geoffroy [untothislast]
Jon Goodbun [winner of the Workspace Group Urbantine Project®Tent), WAG]
Usman Haque [Haque design and research]
Alvise Simondetti [Foresight & Innovation at Arup]
Chair: Christian Derix [nous, Aedas R&D]
We have been hard at work preparing our Open Tables winning entry (Workspace Group Urbantine Project) for Tent London this year. The show goes on for 3 days, 18-21st September, and Open Tables is evolving fast into a truly exciting project. There is only about 7 weeks left and there is a lot to plan/develop/build.
If you would like to follow Open Tables development, we have set-up a blog that is regularly updated.
WAG’s Open Tables Ecology has just been announced as the winning project in this year’s Workspace Group Urbantine Project. The design will be constructed and displayed at Tent London during the London Design Festival this September.
Ubiquitous Computing is based upon using the particularities of real places and spaces to provide the basis for our interactions with digital media. It explores how everyday objects and familiar places can help us to interact with and create ‘local’ information in a global network. This is the opposite of the old concept of ‘cyberspace’, or indeed the current experience of being on line, which is always the same where ever you are…
We started this project by asking how can we create a physical space which facilitates the navigation, selection and creation of ideas. For us, this is in fact part of a bigger study, into creating a hybrid real space/web platform to facilitate the production of open source design (analogous to open source software).
The proposal is for an environment which will facilitate open source thinking, between individuals and groups working and playing in the installation space (and perhaps others working in other places, and online). We would like to really test this by hiring the space for a few hours each day to local companies to use for brainstorming workshops.
The installation is conceptually organised into digitally enhanced ‘tables’ and ‘walls’. In addition, there are hybrid objects: these are found and recycled everyday items, bought from architectural salvage yards and the like, which are physically and technologically manipulated and adjusted to create usable hybrid objects which channel and interface RSS feeds. These are categorised as ‘Wall-Objects’ and ‘Table-Objects’
The ‘tables’ are for working on individually and collectively, and the ‘walls’ are for displaying the work of the ‘tables’. For example, a workgroup at one of the tables or ‘table-objects’ start writing some ideas. The computer (actually a piece of RSS aggregator software) identifies keywords on the table (inputted on the table or by mobile), and starts to search RSS feeds for posts tagged with the keywords. As these feeds start to display or get projected onto the various table-objects, the workgroups can tag and cross reference them. This primary amended content then gets displayed on the walls and wall-objects, to be seen and responded to by the larger community.
Graphic material in images, source: http://www.visualcomplexity.com
WAG: Working Architecture Group are Jon Goodbun, Filip Visnjic and Cordula Weisser.
WAG is an eco-innovative design and research practice, whose interests range from urbanism and ecology to architectural furniture and computer aided manufacture. We believe that the architectural research that WAG has been involved in, produced through our teaching, writing and built practice, enables us to articulate, explore and develop the core aims and values of our clients, in interesting and powerful new ways. Our office is near Spitalfields Market, in East London, and our portfolio includes residential, retail, exhibition, bar and branding projects, for clients including BBC, YMCA, German Embassy and British Museum.
For Open Tables WAG are leading a cross-disciplinary design team, which includes students from Schumacher College ( Fabio Barone (software developer) and Amalie Lauer (engineer)), and interaction designer Alexander Kohlhofer (plasticshore.com).
WAG/Jon Goodbun general quote:
“Whenever I try to describe the ideas behind our work at WAG, or my broader consultancy and academic research, I tend to use words like holism, ecology, and cybernetics a lot. These ideas are able to capture and describe the notion that we live in a globally networked, modern world, but that this ‘space of flows’ is fundamentally interconnected to the ‘Spaceship Earth’ that we are travelling on. We rely upon the biosphere for vast inputs of Natural Capital every year into our production and consumption economies/ecologies, and we need to find conceptual and practical ways to conceive of ourselves as personally networked into these natural and technological ecologies, in a ‘local’ way. We need to build bridges between the local and the global. The fact that both ‘economy’ and ‘ecology’ share the same etymological root from Greek oikos ‘house’, suggests that they are both in fact inextricable from the very concept of architecture – both effectively meaning ‘the science of the house’, or ‘the science of managing the home’. “
Alexander Kohlhofer (plasticshore.com) blurb:
As a designer Alexander Kohlhofer embodies strong artistic sensibilities with a passion for and expertise in contemporary technologies. He has worked on projects with the British Council, the Tate Gallery, the Imperial War Museum, the Arts Council, Amnesty International and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) and many others.
He has presented at international venues, conducted workshops abroad and has lived and worked in the US, UK, Germany and Austria. Until last year he was creative director of Bafta Award winners Soda Creative, world renowned for Soda Constructor. He is also a founding member and director of Munich based Schoene Neue Kinder in Germany.
His fascination for social software is expressed in his current start ups: the award winning online multiplayer-strategy game Weewar (http://weewar.com) and the agile team ware No Kahuna (http://nokahuna.com).
You can learn more about Alexander Kohlhofer at http://plasticshore.com
Architecture 08 exhibition at the University of Greenwich.
Students of Architecture and their end of year work.
Atelier 6 2007/08:
Tutors: Jon Goodbun, Filip Visnjic, Cordula Weisser
This year the WAG studio has continued the work of previous cohorts, exploring the intersection of demographic, technological and environmental change. We consciously attempted to envisage new sustainable social forms by exploring the possibilities opened up by rethinking, from the bottom up and top down, architectural design method in the light of planetary limits.
We started the year looking at a single dwelling unit, and finished with a series of master-planning exercises for Hackney Central, which explored food production, energy management, cohousing and urban transport. In both cases we developed with the students a new kind of drawing – The Ecology Diagram – which aims to capture the material and energy forces and flows acting upon the site – whether environmental, economic, social, or technological. By working with Ecology Diagrams students were able to design processes as much as products, and imagine new social scenarios as solutions to new problems. WAG will be presenting the research of Atelier 6, as part of a wider study, to Hackney Council and local community groups over the summer.
You can see more examples of students’ work here.
To find out more about Architecture at University of Greenwich please visit DigitalStudio.
WAG have continued to develop their sub/urban cohousing permaculture research, which was recently commended by Europan. The scheme has been developed through the use of Ecology Diagrams – drawings which aim to capture all of the material, energy, information and social flows acting upon a site.
The design is aimed at meeting a growing niche demand in the housing market. The proposal is an opt-in community for individuals and families who want to take the next step in sustainable modern living. The Social Ecology is organised through the collective ownership and management of a community freehold, with private leaseholds for dwellings. There are shared car pools, rather than private car ownership, and instead of roads, a network of cycle routes and footpaths cross the site. There is an ecology of green spaces – from public to private. There are a range of dwelling types, clustered into groups of twenty units, organised around a linear public park, a permaculture based community school, a market hall and democratic billboard mediaspace. Each co-housing cluster overlooks shared garden, organic food growing and playground spaces. The individual dwelling units are organised around private courtyard gardens, which are treated as an external living rooms.
The first article of a new regular column is up on the BD Online site. The new column is the product of an extended, and often weblog based, conversation around sustainable thinking that I have been engaged in with editor Phil Clark over the last year. This column aims to address over the coming months some of the broader questions raised by the need to rethink, in the light of emerging evidence of fast approaching planetary limits, our methods of design, production and consumption, specifically with regard to architecture-urbanism and construction. Most of the time I will be speaking from a research based position, at the intersection of academia, design education and architectural practice.