So much has been written about the impact of Coronavirus and how we have an opportunity to re-imagine and rebuild towards a better or at the very least different future.
It almost seems unfashionable to yet again quote the report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which stated that to avert climate breakdown, we need to cut global emissions in half by 2030 and reach zero by 2050. Beyond the COVID health crisis looms an economic crisis and beyond the economic crisis awaits an environmental crisis.
There are so many great articles out there that speak to the systemic shifts that are required to transition from a global culture based on the values of competition, celebrity and consumption towards a culture based on the values of cooperation, empathy and ecology. I list some of my favourites here;
The best reflection that I can contribute is that lockdown has presented many of us with the gift of time. Time to slow down, stay grounded and re-evaluate what’s actually important in our lives. Personally, I have used this time to develop new routines, create art, spend quality time with my romantic partner and of course work on new projects and ideas.
I strongly believe that just thinking or writing about change without applying and testing that thinking on a practical and personal level is counterproductive.
Thinking without action leaves us feeling lost in a complex maze of intellectual loops.
On the other hand action without thinking results in a lot of wasted time and resources.
I must admit that on several occasions during these lockdown months I was tempted to publish my own ‘this is an opportunity to re-imagine…’ Medium article. I wrote many drafts. However, I decided against publishing because these articles failed to connect theory with practice. I was adding yet another loop to the meta-narrative.
What is different now is that I can combine my philosophical and personal reflections with practical action; or in other words the things I am actually doing to create value and serve my community. Thus, I would like to introduce you to three projects that have been my primary focus over these lockdown months;
1) House of Transformation - Kingsland Road - Re-imagining Space
The single most profound impact of COVID will be the accelerated adoption of technology. Working from home has become the norm and as a result the way we design and use physical space must respond to this. We created House of Transformation because we believe that this is the perfect moment to experiment with multi-use real estate models, hybrid (virtual & in person) events and fusions between the green economy and the experience economy.
We have agreed a lease on a vacant office unit in our apartment building and plan to launch our first pilot space in October this year. Our approach is to offer affordable timeshares to different organisations and communities who align with our purpose and values during working hours. Then on evenings and weekends we will experiment with different event formats and experiences. This multi-use model will provide small businesses and local communities with access to better spaces for a lower overall monthly cost.
Check out our 3D model on Sketchfab...
Our design concept for the space is to create a fusion between a greenhouse sanctuary and an immersive theatre. We envision an intimate multi-sensory space that can host the widest possible range of events and experiences such as for team meetings, interactive workshops, educational programmes, training days, product launches, exhibitions, film screenings, intimate community gatherings, experiential dinners, yoga classes and more. Every component that we bring into the space is designed to be locally made, reused or recycled. Our vision is for the space to become a showroom for a more sustainable, affordable and multi-use approach to interior design and commercial asset management.
We are working with U-Build (CNC construction specialists) and First Call (event & theatre production) to design and renovate our space. U-Build aims to transform the way people think about buildings and the way they are built, by simplifying the construction process and enabling anyone to participate. First Call is a project management firm with access to over 200 skilled craftsman. Their experience working to tight deadlines in the events industry will be invaluable as we look to team up with landlords and property investors to open future coliving and multi-use commercial HoT Spaces.
Please get in touch (email@example.com) if you would like to use our space or collaborate on an event production.
2) Village Builders Gathering in Portugal
During these past lockdown months I have been ‘Zooming’ with a lot of people and communities across the world who are looking to buy land and start their own ‘village building’ project. Some of us are focussing on rural co-housing and eco-tourism. Some of us are working on coliving, placemaking and urban developments. Some of us are doing both. The golden thread is that we all share this desire to live with more sustainability, community, affordability, health / wellness and connection to nature. We are asking similar questions and working on similar projects.
We are collaborating with Waking Life to host a Village Builders Gathering next year in Portugal. This will be a week-long event that combines festival magic with a common purpose: to build a network of doers who share our passion for building and sustainability. We envision this as a blended unconference event, combining pre-event online connection & conversation, 1 week together and post-event follow-up.
This event will be an opportunity for us to get our hands dirty (build, dig, plant etc) as well as dive into the specific challenges and opportunities that come with starting, sustaining and scale a village building project. The purpose behind our event is to bring the builders together in a unique and inspiring place; to create important bonds and relationships so this movement is truly cooperative rather than competitive.
If you would like to learn more and participate in this gathering, please email …
3) Alive Places - Making Living Better - Placemaking through BtR
For the past two years I have been working with a real estate firm in London called ALIVE. We recently bought our first site to develop 200 rental homes in North West London and aim to have a pipeline of thousands of homes over the coming years. My role within our team is to lead on customer experience, placemaking and sustainability.
What is unique about Alive when compared to traditional build for sale housing development is that we take the role of both the developer and the operator. We are not here to sell and run. We design and manage places for the long-term, placing the wellbeing of our residents at the core of our business model.
We see the Build-to-Rent housing sector as an opportunity to invest in great placemaking and sustainable design that will provide a better living experience to people of all ages and walks of life. It is an exciting moment for anyone working in housing development, especially in London. It is exciting to have the opportunity to work with such an experienced team and impact the design and development of entire neighbourhoods across London. I’ve learned that there is so much that I didn’t know that I didn’t know. Succeed in real estate takes time and immense attention to detail. There are no short cuts. This is an industry where you really learn by doing.
From the blending of commercial asset classes to the emergence of collective rural and urban tech enabled eco-living solutions, there is undoubtedly a new wave of people with the resources and aspirations to live with greater authenticity, community, wellbeing and connection to nature. It is this wave that makes me optimistic about our ability to adapt to the inevitable global warming of our planet.
I would like to leave you with a simple thought; ‘The future is HOT. This is the moment to get our hands dirty.
Let’s not get overwhelmed by the complexity and scale of our global challenges. Think local. Focus on bottom up change. Start a project. Join a project. Do something at a local level that will make your family and community more resilient. Then share your story so that others can learn from your experience.
These projects and experiments might not change the world overnight, but they will give you and the people around you a wealth of joy and fulfilment.
Thank you for reading this. If you are curious about or want to get involved in any of these projects please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will be hosting regular HoT events and recording HoT Talks to showcase and celebrate the people and projects that most inspire us. Stay tuned. #Joinus