Futures Fair '10

Seminar Summary

Joost Beunderman – Zero Zero Architecture

Joost Beunderman presents the move in public services towards self organisation and empowerment, which is more bottom up from previous approaches. This is supported by powerful digital tools and empowered citizens being more demanding of the state- creating a more powerful agency. As an architecture practice we can design types of spaces that allow this type of creative potential and self motivation and initiative to occur- for example the hub project. This could lead to a different house building model- the right to build model- through community land trust and community enterprises taking the lead with local communities. There are three central behaviours that are interesting and could be very powerful in the future:

-The producer/consumer (prosumer) i.e. renewable energy/housing
-Working on existing assets and using them in a better way with technology i.e. street car.
-Citizen as investor i.e. people contributing small amounts of money/skills/time for local benefit.

Ian Drysdale – Think Public

Ian Drysdale described the work of Think Public in the service design sector- using public service as a platform for the public to work with one another rather than as a service that we provide for somebody. Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares might be an analogy for how we work- taking an existing business and service, analysing it and trying to improve it, both front of house as well as backstage and the customers. Observation and involving the users are key parts to improving service. Ian described in detail a project with the Alzheimers Society- enabling patients and carers to actively control the research as an ongoing process rather than consultation then design.

Steve McAdam – Fluid/Soundings

Steve McAdam described the journey from a purely architecture practice in Fluid, to the broader practice of Soundings. After many years of building frivolous architecture that was quickly replaced and did not seem to have resonance, a more meaningful approach was taken, with the city taken as a starting point. Over many years, through teaching and a range of project Fluid became more involved in community, regeneration, urban and research projects – particularly those that work with people. Soundings came out of that work as an independent business working as ‘independent community experts’- practicing on the edge of architecture but without the baggage of it. Soundings has managed to bring in other types of skills such as anthropologists, sociologists etc, so support to work of architects, planners and developers. Curiously, by removing ourselves from the architectural mantel, we find ourselves appreciated more- not less.

Mandeep Hothi – The Young Foundation

Mandeep Hothi presented the Young Foundation’s work on Community 2.0- how communities interact with web 2.0, social media, smart phones and apps. The amount of people creating content on the web has double over the past two years- but what are the implications of this? Dialogue is one of the best outcomes and twitter is a great example of this- people talking about their local area. There is a surge in local communities creating their own social networks using Ning- mobilising themselves. There is an ongoing debate about how to engage people online in decision making, a new tool called Dwellant that allows residents within a block to organise themselves- and this is something worth exploring. Ask Bristol is a good example of the public sector taking huge risks and consulting using digital technologies to reach more widely and reach more people than they usually do, to ask them about the issues that affect their lives. These are the things that we won’t be talking about in a few years time because they will be mainstream.