Startup City by 00:/ and Space Station

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Startup City by 00

Architects 00:/ and Space Station have designed digital advert-covered offices to straddle Old Street roundabout, located down the road from Dezeen's offices in London and dubbed Silicon Roundabout due to the number of technology companies and start-ups in the area.

Startup City by 00

Startup City would accommodate start-up businesses directly above Old Street tube station. Digital adverts would flash across the faceted exterior of the office block, interrupted only by windows.

Startup City by 00

The electronic canvas would be one of the most expensive advertising spaces in the capital, available for rent per pixel per minute. Behind the walls, the building would enclose a ground-level public square containing station entrances, a big screen, market stalls and cafes.

Startup City by 00

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Other recent architecture projects in London include a fire-damaged former market hall converted into Corten-clad university offices and a house clad in flint, timber and lead - see more projects in London here.

The following information is from the architects:


London-based design practice 00:/ ∫(‘zero zero’), in partnership with Space Station, have published proposals for the redevelopment of the Old Street roundabout in East London. The proposals outline a new enterprise and start-up institution at the central hub of Old Street, Hoxton and Shoreditch; an area which in recent years has been dubbed ‘Silicon Roundabout’ due to the rising success of new technology and .com enterprises concentrated in the area.

At a time when much of the economic and employment news in the UK makes for gloomy reading, Silicon Roundabout stands out as a remarkable success story, with a number of successful British technology companies emerging in one small area, and myriad new start-ups seeking to establish themselves in the area.Yet the roundabout which gave its name to this phenomenon remains, by contrast, unloved and fallow but for a small number of popular shops which inhabit the concrete underpass.

Boosted by government support for the ‘Tech City’ emerging in the East of London, the effort is now on to bring together investors, backers and the tech community to build upon this emerging London success story. “The roundabout is a landmark opportunity to articulate and amplify what is happening in the area”, explains Space Station director Russell Chopp.

Space Station is widely acknowledged as one of the pioneers for the regeneration of Shoreditch since 1997 working closely with many of the successful founding .com and media start up companies that originally moved into Shoreditch in the late 1990’s.

Architecture and strategic design practice 00:/, themselves based in the area, have led the design for the proposals. 00:/ are established leaders in innovative enterprise environments and future workspaces: having been co-designers and partners behind the Hub network in London, which provides collaborative workspace for social entrepreneurs. Not surprisingly then, their proposals go far beyond the kind of corporate office design often associated with business campuses.

“It’s partly about realising why this place is already successful in the first place”, explain 00:/. “This is an economy which works in a completely different way, it’s far more open, far more sociable. It’s about the aggregation of many small, energetic, and rapidly growing start-ups with a sharing culture rather than the single, large corporate setup which has driven the design of the office buildings we got used to during the boom.”

Their proposal has a number of key distinctive features. First, the base of the structure is not a corporate lobby or a shopping mall, but a large, enclosed public space.

“In a sense, London already has another major public space, sitting there, waiting to be found, used and loved” say the designers. “It should be something like a cross between Trafalgar Square and Grand Central Terminal in NewYork.”

The design has to respond to the very tight constraints of building around an existing underground and railway station, located at the centre of one of London’s busiest traffic junctions. Its structure and construction would have to be strongly shaped by these factors.

The resultant building, sitting astride this new public space, could not be more different from the glass office buildings of the City of London a few hundred metres further south. Not a series of floor plates, but a kind of city-within-a-city.

Within this compact city would be workspaces for companies which range in size from large to tiny, as well as shared resources and flexible workspaces for start-up enterprises of only one or two people.

On the outside, the faceted facade is a vast, programmable advertising board, reminiscent of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. “We’re told the advertising space on the roundabout is some of the most expensive in Britain. Rather than resist that, we saw an opportunity in turning that onto its head, by opening the whole thing up. By selling the façade per pixel, per minute, the building creates a system which allows small, local companies, individuals and online campaigns to use it, alongside the big global players.”The result is a kind of neighbourhood- based ‘million-dollar homepage’, reflecting outwardly the energetic entrepreneurialism which is driving the change in this part of London.

  • http://www.facebook.com/play.create Daniel Brown

    Wow Poke must be doing well :-)

  • Yo mamma

    Looks like a nightmare.

  • xtiaan

    everchanging inescapable digital advertising, its so bladerunner (and not in a good way)

  • Jonathan

    I hate this!! What has the world come to?

    • Mr B

      An interesting space for start-up businesses, whats to hate? I'd definitely be up for using the space!

  • Mr B

    Excellent! An ever changing 'Skin exterior' sounds amazing, to use it for advertising is a given, but think of the potential.

  • http://www.zazous.co.uk/ nick austin

    Suck it up boys and girls. This is what you are.

    It's brilliant, such honesty.

  • http://theanalogueblog.typepad.com/analogue-blog/ Dave

    I get a bit annoyed by so many projects that are not in response to a real brief and have no realistic chance of ever being built. It's not hard to smash out a fancy shape with a new agenda if you dont have a client, or a budget and can choose any site you want. If you're featuring projects like this, you might as well just show 15 or 20 student projects per day as well.

    Just another press release looking for a sliver of publicity.

    • jordanjlloyd

      I think you have missed the entire point of this project. The 'brief' is a response to a prominent site in London that has a nascent opportunity to become an area that is already seeing promising development in the software economy, and as such, the programme and 'Picadilly-esque' exterior is highly appropriate to the context it is in.

      If everyone waited around to respond to a brief set out by the client, progress would never happen. I get a bit annoyed when so many people cannot see that the architects have simply exploited an opportunity (driven entirely in this case by economics) to have an impact through a design-led response.

      Think for a moment who owns the land – likely Transport For London. They are currently sitting on one of the most prominent advertising hoardings in the country and it's not reaching it's full potential in terms of profit value from the land. The increased advertising presence alone would go some way to subsidising the capital cost of the building, further increased when you consider that TFL would be the landlord for a lucrative London site for businesses.

      This project has every chance of being built, as I am aware that the architect is not only based in the area, but they are already in talks with both TFL and other contractors to see if they can get this off the ground.

      As for the design itself – the programme looks pretty ordinary to me; the design would replace Old Street Station's concourse with a viable public space, with what looks like a series of differently sized offices, wrapped in a faceted facade which if anything could be determined entirely by traffic site lines which would be a legitimate safety concern.

      This is not a student project, if you look at Studio 00's website, you may know the practice is engaged in a serious discourse of the future of our economy by applying architectural knowledge to contexts other than 'fancy buildings', an agenda shared by many forward thinking practices like OMA/AMO, REX and BIG etc.

      Best wishes,

      Jordan J. Lloyd

  • cameobabe

    The multi-ad exterior is an eye-sore but I love the Pacman exterior. I agree with xtiaan – the mishmash of ads is a leap forwards to a Bladerunner landscape, hopefully without the interminable rain.

  • darkejon

    Design of the building aside. Can't imagine this being an affordable option for your /average/ startup. The primary lure of Old Street is the affordability of space, however what this project lacks in incubator potential 'inside', assuming it's more of a high-cost office for already established tech companies it may act as more of a lure for smaller startup businesses to the area. A hub of technology companies of all sizes is a good thing, as long as these types of projects don't push up prices in the surrounding neighbourhood, forcing smaller businesses out.

  • hoxton hero

    'surprisingly then, their proposals go far beyond the kind of corporate office design often associated with business campuses'…….um it's covered in brands. A two bit Piccadilly circus minus Lillywhites. If this a vision for ' a kind of city-within-a-city' I want to cry a lot

  • Robin

    Building is a dog but if it were to happen, a % of screen time should be negotiated for local creative projects. Could carry skyscape images, clouds, portraits, interactive games, how about a fire on halloween.

  • billy

    This may sound like nitpicking but could someone please clarify what quantifies a pixel? Taking it to mean an actual physical pixel in a standard outdoor LED advertising screen with a resolution of anywhere between 1200 – 2500 px per metre sq, at 50p / px / min gives £600 – £1250 per minute of advertising costs for a 1m x 1m advert. 2 minutes at that sort of money could buy you a 48-sheet billboard in Old Street for 2 weeks! Surely not. One of us is doing our maths wrong.