architecture : strategy and design

140818 / the origin of spaces - budget granted!

Good news for the new season : In september 2013 a group of individuals met during the visit of Bilbao that was proposed by the Bordeaux Municipality. After this meeting, other meetings followed, each time focussed on the creative power of alternative business-culture-centers. With convergent energy a group set to work to apply for a budget at the European Erasmus+ programme, which was granted this month. I'm proud to have contributed the research chapter. Here you can find the research proposition.

Participants : Bordeaux FR - Association Les Darwiniens, Bilbao ES - Associacion hACERIA Ateak (ZAWP), Lisbon PT - LX Factory, Lewisham UK + Capture Arts, Pula HR - ROJC cultural center.

The Origin of Spaces
innovative practices for sustainable multidisciplinary clusters fostering social entrepreneurship

To work in partnership for exchange, development and implementation of innovative practices in field of creation and management of sustainable multidisciplinary clusters. Our guidelines are improving ecological transition, participatory governance, co-working and social entrepreneurship.

5 Partners : Lisbon PT, Bilbao ES, Bordeaux FR, Pula HR, London UK

5 Subjects : Coworking, Public-Private partnership, Ecological Transition, Participatory Governance, Social Entrepreneurship

2 Workfields : Research & Toolbox Developpment

#socialeconomy #collaborative #ecology #sustainable #multidisciplinary #hybrid #holistic #servicedesign #designthinking #urbanism #business #learning #fourthsector ...

Research Programme 2014-2015

Antonio Machado - Campos de Castilla - 1912

"... Caminante, son tus huellas el camino, y nada más; caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar. Al andar se hace camino, y al volver la vista atrás se ve la senda que nunca se ha de volver a pisar. ...?

§0 / Preface

It is dawning on many of us that the current pace and direction of society is difficult to keep up for very long. When in the post-world-war period the pursuit of (individual) achievement seemed the key force of collective development, now the nature of the achievement is very much at the heart of our concerns. Sharing and respecting the environment, be it social, capital or natural, must now regain a central position in community management. Simultaneously the means available for this common task are more and more distributed. More than ever must one ask what one can do for the community, rather than what the community can do for us.

If this project can establish the relevance of the multidisciplinary approach to global sustainability, it will be succesful. All participants, and all of their partners, will be dealing with our subject hands on. This means, once again, to break out of conventional silos so that professionals with different expertise can share insights and work side by side for the common goal.

Once the individual participants of the project recognise the shared motivation, the matter can be improved, embodied and disseminated - through the work in progress and the distribution of the results. Everyone will have the occasion to relay the subject in new links with organisations and city councils on local level, bringing together the actors within a common framework. The nature of 'change management' will need the implication of key-stake-holders on a regional level. Developping and distributing tested contents will convince captains of governance and industry to support the agents of the new models. The rich and diverse context of european culture will be a favourable background for innovating community-management with the resilience of a hybrid multi-faceted approach. When we come out with a 'best-practice'-based toolbox, developed on field work, we will be ready to share the expertise, and promote this complementary and crucial frame of innovation.

§1 / Global Approach

This research brief is part of the Erasmus + project application. It is the major part of the initial phase, and concentrates on the task of assessing the existing practices of the five partners. The results of the research will be the basis of the second and final phase - the Toolbox development. The Toolbox is destined to enable other individuals or groups to learn the basics of setting up multidisciplinary social entrepreneur clusters.

The research project should take into account the differentiation of generic and specific values, mostly connected to the inevitable global and local contexts due to the pan-european character of the approach. For example, the geographic situation of each partner will give a different precondition for discussing a subject such as Ecological Transition.

Because the research results will be the basis for the development of a Toolbox, this goal will co-author the approach for the research. To be more specific, setting up a multidisciplinary cluster depends on many more factors than can be adequately treated in the Toolbox, such as budget and professional network. As a consequence such matters will not be treated as the central issues that they are, but rather as non-specific (yet undeniable) prerequisites.


The outline hereafter is the draft that will launch the project. From the start the partner teams will readjust the objectives to come to a broadly agreed brief. To do so they will receive the abstract in advance, as well as an provisional list of documentation to be completed and maintained up to date.


A.1 Subject and Hypothesis

In a time when the status quo of our society is challenged by many limitations, initiatives for a new type of workplace are emerging. Through their actions they propagate alternative economical and societal values. They have the potential of initiating a transition towards a more sustainable society. How do we define the sustainable society? The project brief covers several relevant sectors : multidisciplinary coworking, public-private partnership, ecological transition, participatory governance, and social entrepreneurship. Within these fields, what are the shared understandings of distributed responsibility and governance, of return-on-investment and societal engagement, of accountability, of hybridisation and resilience? The inevitable ecological transition is forcing us to change our methods. This would be a good time to let change induce change (K. Kelly, Out of Control ISBN 9781857020199). The innovative practices of sustainable multidisciplinary clusters might have what it takes. How do we verify that?

A.2 Objectives and Methods of Analysis

Each of these new-type-workplace, be they places, or groups, have their own existance, their own internal logics and external manifestations. How do they serve their own immediate need of (economic) survival, and how do they reach beyond that? Parametric descriptions of each cluster, of the economical and ecological reality of their greater community, and field interviews with internal and external actors, will be the main source of data. The book "City as Loft" (K. Christiaanse & C. Baum ISBN 978-3-85676-302-2) starts this investigation but concentrates on the urban 'hardware'. The Origin of Spaces wants to include site specific aspects of socio-economical 'software' in the analysis.


B.1 Subject Representatives

The project is conducted by a partnership of five members : Lisbon PT, Bilbao ES, Bordeaux FR, Pula HR, London UK. Their hybrid work spheres each have their own life-cycle dynamics. They are living testing grounds of the practice we will analyse. The extensive profile of each partner can be found elsewhere in this application form. Their differences are evident, given the european scale of the project. Their common denominator is their innovative character - looking for new opportunities.

B.2 Method of Analysis

A common description of identical parameters (hardware and software) will identify each partner, and distinguish their generic and specific value-field in the european perspective. This will deliver a frame of generic shared values - valid for any initiative, and specific values - only applicable in specific (local) contexts. By compiling and crossfeeding the data of all partners, the scope of the research will be delimited. Focus subjects can then be identified.

To learn how to look for concrete qualities in the broad holistic approach, parallel bodies of comparison should be discussed for structuring the objectives. Economical, physical as well as biological dynamic systems will serve as parallel models. (Kevin Kelly's 9 Laws of God, Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea - The Evolution of Consciousness, Liedtka's Design Thinking, Service design, Habraken's Open Building, Alvin Toffler's Adhocracy, Laszlo's Systems Thinking, Lorenz's butterfly effect, Conway's Game of Life, Entropy, Hybridity, Metabolism, Mitosis,..)


The total body of investigation would be made up of : 1) the parametric description of all partners, 2) an identification of generic and specific values and criteria for each partner, and 3) results of internal and external interviews.


Lining up the collected data, and tracing the actions preceding positively evaluated manifestations, will be the most gratifying task. When the above suggested bodies of comparison are discussed and agreed upon, they will serve as a frame of observation to identify these succesful sustainable value-chains more easily. The internal logics and the external manifestations could be tied together to define operative value chains, where added value would be the sustainability of the activity, rather than just the monetary impact. Given the pan-european and holistic approach, the criteria can not be predetermined too precisely.


Establishing a common set of values, intentions, communications and actions, by facilitating the exchange of experiences of these very different and unformatted partners, is the task at hand. That alone will be an ackomplishment to the extent that the discussions will increase and specifiy a conscious approach to the transition in question. At best, replicable sustainable value-chains will be identified on theoretical basis. Eventually the theoretical results will be the basis of the elaboration of a in-field-toolbox. The value-chains can then be tested, tuned and distributed.

§2 / Research Partners

The work of the entire european research team will be collaborative and distributed, according to the nature of the subject of the project. Each partner will have a team coordinator. The entire european team will be coordinated by the initiating partner Les Darwiniens in Bordeaux, France, in close collaboration with Capture Arts who has a leading role in developping the Toolbox. The role of the initiating coordinator is to develop roadmaps for the work at hand, for the european project scale and the separate partner approaches. Each roadmap proposition must integrate the results of it's collective deliberaton, before becoming a benchmark for measuring the progress. Each team is accountable for their local results. The central coordinator is accountable for the generic results.

Each partner has a specific content contribution to the whole, a part from everyone's dedication to the entire programme. With their respective speciality, each partner will be responsible for subset content management, i.e. collecting, labelling and processing the field data for interpretation : Lisbon = Multidisciplinary Coworking, Bilbao = Public-Private partnership, Bordeaux = Ecological Transition, Pula = Participatory Government, and London = Social Entrepreneurship.

For workflow management the tasks are distributed in a similar manner. Giving each partner a specific logistical task will guarantee frequent exchanges and assure deep proofreading of the material. The mentioned components of the results are distributed for processing, so that the administration of the contents will be in clearly known hands : Lisbon = Parametric cluster discription and greater community discription, Bilbao = Interviews, Bordeaux = Selection of bodies of comparison, Pula = Generic and specific value-field profiles, and London = Selection of focus subject. Coordinating the distribution and deliberation of each phase, remains in the hands of Bordeaux and London.

§3 / Three Trans-national Meetings

Three major moments will mark the research project. The first event will be the Kick-off meeting in Bordeaux in October 2014. This occasion will allow the participants to confirm a common understanding of the context, the brief and the objectives. After that, it's off to work for each team! During the second event, in April 2015 in Bilbao, the intermediate situation of each participants work will be presented and discussed. Checks can be made according to the initial objectives, and new directions can be defined for the coming second half. The last transnational event for the research teams will be the presentation of the final generic report, that will contain the conclusions and recommendations at that moment within the initial brief. Ideally the presentation of the research results, should be the opening act for the presentation of the Toolbox Kick-off meeting.

§4 / Study Visits

During the ongoing research work, exchange of the experiences must be stimulated. Blogging, and keeping in touch through the existing and intended online platforms could take place for enabling acces to all ongoing work at any given time. But direct contact by presence is irreplaceable. Travelling researchers will stop by and visit the teams in action. These occasions will help cross-feed the intermediary techniques and findings in a more direct way. Also these visits will allow to keep track of the coordination and evaluation of the means and the goals at stake. If judged necessary, adjustments in the outline or output should be considered. The progressive insights collected during the work should be handled with consideration, as the multidisciplinary and evolutive nature of the subject can and should lead to new insights, and not only to confirming the hypothesis of the research objective.

§5 / Collective Result

When the research phase comes to a end, all the partial research results must be collected, read, discussed, edited, and composed into the final report for presentation. The separate frames of "interpretations-conlusions-recommendations", common to all teams, should be presented separately and jointly. As before, generic and specific values must be identified and presented, so that the best replicable sustainable value-chains of each team have a complementary value as part of a generic approach, while also acknowledging the specific value of specific methods in specific contexts.

§6 / End Conference - Dissemination - Relaying the Results

The moment of presentation of the final report will have two goals. First of all the to present comprehensive conclusions at the end of a Pan-European and multidisciplinary investigation, to the participants and their networks. And second, to present workable ideas to the team that will develop the Toolbox. The Toolbox team will have been present in parallel events and communications during the research, and also the research team will maintain a presence during the Toolbox development.

§7 / Publication

The final report will be written in english, the common language for all partners. For the dissemination of the report contents beyond the immediat partners, and to the services surrounding the partners, the report will be translated in the partner countries languages Portugese, Spanish, French, and Kroatian. This work will be closely coordinated with the dissemination team, so that the work will be of profit to as many different publication platforms possible.

§8 / Research Follow Up

Evidently a research programme does not really deliver final truths, but rather fixes a number of relevant findings around the initial question of the transition towards a more sustainable society. It is beyond doubt that the interpretation of the results can be recontextualized according to a number of factors, of which cultural context will certainly be at least an important one. The conclusions must be constructive, and hand in tangible knowlegde, at least for starting the Toolbox development. The recommendations will open new perspectives on the subject, after the years of work, and point to new directions and unaswered questions. To better understand the underlying logics and mechanisms of the transition that is taking place, and that needs to be developped, specific fields for continuing the research must be identified, within and beyond the partnerhsip in question.