|Our showcase – The Hive – wasn’t meant to just show the cultural and social benefits of respacing empty buildings, but also to highlight that buildings like this are appropriate venues for local politics, public consultations and wider debates about society.|
We held three Respace Conferences, engaging a cross-section of city makers – from building and energy professionals, to activists, councillors and politicians. We wanted to start a dialogue between actors that often don’t get the chance to talk to one another – such as developers and architects, communities and planners, councils and academics. Participants commented that such interactions were important for healthy urban development, but that there was a lack of opportunity. From cabinet members and planners, to activists and academics, the recurring refrain was, “we need more places like the Hive”.
Watch a short video from our second conference:
The Respacing Conferences
Conference One: ‘Holistic urban regeneration’
Our first conference was originally conceived by Fleur and Lisa. It was a packed two-day schedule of talks and panel discussions, from politicians, planners, councillors, academics, architects and activists, across two floors where they debated key issues faced by Londoners. As a result of this event, the now Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville advised that respaced buildings should be taken into account by Hackney’s ten year plan.
|These events helped to build our credibility, as we continued to gain support from every sector of society. Rather than trying to lobby City Hall for policy changes, we invited them to the Hive to see the benefits of the system for themselves.|
Conference Two: ‘Infrastructure’ and Hustings.
The ReSpacing Conference and Hustings featured a ‘dragons’ den’ style event on day one, where new projects could pitch their ideas for community projects, and have feedback from a panel of experts. An open-space discussion took place in the afternoon, to agree a list of questions to be put to the 2016 mayoral candidates and representatives at the hustings the following day.
“Imagine 150 years from now, The Hive [concept] works, this will be an historical moment”
Shaun Bailey, Conservative Party representative
At our mayoral hustings, which featured Sian Berry for the Greens, Conservative Shaun Bailey, Adrian Trett Liberal Democrat, George Galloway for Respect, we gained cross-party commitment to support a ‘respace classification’, which would cut red tape and administrative costs for councils and property owners. Labour’s Tom Copley, London Assembly member was unwell on the day but has been an active supporter of the project from the beginning, recommending ReSpace Projects to the fire service to make use of their empty stations.
The politicians took their seats on a stage made by people, some of whom have been homeless. This platform helped break some of the traditional barriers that prevent genuine political engagement and consultations.
– excerpt from their article:
“The audience of about 30 people sat ready to pounce as the panel answered questions prepared at workshops the previous day. They tussled over austerity, the housing crisis and renewable energy as audience members applauded and heckled.”
“Chairing the hustings was Abiodun Olatokun of Bite the Ballot, a political education initiative that encourages engagement among young people.”
|Our third conference brought to together some of the friends and partners we had made over the time to discuss the future. It was praised for its unique approach as people who slept on the streets did workshops with the people who were responsible for building them.|
Conference Three: The ‘City Makers Meeting’
The final conference, the City Makers’ Meeting, featured talks from experts in renewable energy and efficiency, as well as the author of the Route Map to a circular economy, by the London Waste and Recycling Board – who endorsed ReSpace Projects as a street-level route to implementing a circular economy.
This evening event also saw the launch of RALLY, an association for organisations who are committed to using wasted space for social good, chaired by Hackney developer and Hive landlord, Michael Gerrard. This coincided with the release of early figures from our social impact report.
We are planning on holding regular conferences or “City Makers Meetings” for members of RALLY – to be hosted at various projects. We intend for these meetings to reflect the growing wave of popular opinion to projects like ours: