What 2011 Starts With

Happy New Year!  I had the chance to reflect over a couple of weeks around Christmas and New Years and am hoping that 2011 is a lot more focused and organised than the project-filled, experimental, seat-of-the-pants approach that characterised 2010.  A few projects which started in the last quarter of 2010 mark the rather busy and eventful start to 2011.  In between hunting down a more consistent source of income (which will probably be in the guise of full-time employment), here’s what’s in store:

Canning Town Meanwhile – in my capacity as a Space Makers associate and financial strategist, I’m working with an amazing team of architects, space hackers, designers, and creative folks to submit a proposal around the interim development of a site across from Canning Town station (Royal Docks Meanwhile Use – Property Week).  Before Christmas this was happening at the site:

Council housing was being cleared, to prepare the site for future development.  I went back to the site just last week (in the rain – so no photos!) and it’s levelled now.  Housing around the site still remain and could be there for another 4-5 years.

Access to Communities – I’ve been discussing and strategising around user-led development of residential property.  It’s gone under the name of co-housing or co-operative housing and incorporates other ideas of user-led design and charrettes.  I sat down with my collaborator yesterday and we designed the business model together.  It’s looking more like community building than property building.  More on this as it develops further.

Empty Properties for Employment – I set up Building Works before Christmas, with the intention of redeveloping disused and derelict homes, working with social firms which provided training and outreach for people experiencing long-term unemployment.  I had parked this for a while, whilst I tried to figure out the best way to find suitable empty properties to redevelop and a way of contacting private owners (working with the squatting community to identify properties and council’s private sector forums were two possibilities).  In my research I found out that if properties are really run down and uninhabitable, they fall off the council’s register as an empty home.  They fall off the council tax register and are picked up by some other part of the council.  Also, it seems as though some councils engage with private sector landlords in their borough and some don’t.  The search continues!

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