6 February 2017 – 6 February 2018
We finally did it. One year. 365 days ago during this week, we published our very first Brief on Volume64. We spent the 6th of February thinking about what to say, what to write and what to draw – read on for the backstory:
We were nervous. We had bought the domain name and website a month ago, privately tweaking and gathering the courage to go public. On January 21 and 30 Lloyd and I cautiously posted two different cubes to see what this blank website would look like with actual contents in it. We first tried making gifs, having never made one before. Trial and error was our main process. After the two ‘Welcome’ posts we published our first ever brief of “The Director’s Office”.
We had no idea how it would look like.
We definitely had no idea how much it would grow a year later.
Many people who have seen the platform have asked us how we came up with it. How did we start? How does one go about even getting the idea in the first place? A year later, we’ve decided to share a little of our experience and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes:
1. Be generous with your ideas. We have always maintained that V64 started out as a series of conversations, and it’s true. When Lloyd got the initial trace of what would become our platform, he approached many different people about it. We learned that it was important not to be too precious with an idea – because if it’s good, you’ll only know by sharing it. Over facetime, in corridors, on a break between studios – when more and more individuals from the AA, Bartlett and Edinburgh schools of architecture responded to this abstract idea we knew we were onto something. People paid attention. They exchanged ideas – “what if you changed the cubes to 4 meters instead of 3? What if you invited more people from the beginning? What about putting it online?”
2. Word of mouth is a friend. For the first few months of the platform, no one new contacted us to join via email. All of the individuals interested in taking part did it because someone they knew had joined, and had heard of the project through them. The platform took on a guerilla-like mentality and we ran with it. Would we prefer hundreds of strangers coming at us with content to use? Maybe…maybe not. Because new members came largely on recommendations of current ones, we could maintain our identity and agenda even as we branched out to include universities from outside our original three. Work slowly changed in variety and sparked lively debates. Our meetings had committed members we got to know well as more and more cubes rolled in. Volume64 is a design platform more than it is a drawing platform, and an enormous pool of anonymous members may never be the best thing for us. A changing team, that evolves and matures as members enter different stages of their lives (graduating, getting their first architecture job, work placement) has an honesty to it. It reflects the ever small, yet ever shifting architecture community we run alongside. Though online blogs and social media give a powerful tool of communication, person-to-person communication has always been our favourite way of running the platform. So if you see us and want to chat, don’t hesitate. That’s how we got started and how we work best.
3. Respect feedback from all directions. Through managing Volume64, we learned the value of working with people who were not afraid to give their opinions. Our platform never would have improved had all its members agreed on everything we said – solid discussions over hard issues is how we surpassed dilemmas and navigated hard times. Our aim as managers was to always keep a low profile, allowing the work to speak for itself. Sometimes we did things members of our key team didn’t agree with, sometimes we underestimated and made mistakes. All of it came with learning how to manage a team of amazing characters and get the best out of it. We also took opportunities to speak with tutors and individuals from every direction, because any good feedback added more knowledge and value to what we were doing. The project is born out of a recurring learning curve that feeds itself through feedbacks.
4. Work with dedicated people over just “talent”. Keeping it simple here: Architecture is well-stocked with a lot of talented people, not all of them are a joy to work with: choose the ones who can sometimes leave their ego at the door and deliver. Running a platform comes with deadlines and management. It is not only the sheer talent that gets the project going, but a mixture of it with delivery. Sometimes, we are forced to compromise with time, but this is part of our profession. Talent and time are not enemies, and the project is a happy compromise of the two.
5. Let your vision grow and evolve with the people who shape it. Although we had a strict agenda that we wanted to lead with each season, we found that it wasn’t always what our contributors enjoyed. How could we create content people weren’t happy working with? This point goes hand-in-hand with Nr3. It was our job to receive and respect feedbacks from all directions, but it was also important to keep our hands firm behind the wheel. We learned, through various occasions, to navigate the platform through the sea of different opinions. You take some and you leave some. While it is always important to get to know the general opinion outside, we learned to be in check with our long-term vision over and over again.
To our Bartlett Team: Henry Schofield, Jonathan Wren, Christopher Delahunt, Ness Lafoy, Agostino Nickl, Johanna Just, Adrian Siu, Kirsty McMullan, Emma Colthurst
To our AA team: Ema Hana Kacar, Quentin Dauvergne, George Furgursson, Adrian Ma, Stan Turcon, Emily Priest, David Flook, Georgi Belyanov, Olivier Jauniaux, Sebastian Serzysko
To our ESALA contributors : Anthony Ani, Teresa Boulting, Elif Öngüt
To our External Contributors : Samuel Jaccard, Kimberley Berney, Jacob Walter, Chase Freeman, Bethany Hird
To our Guest Contributor : Huai-Kuan Chung, Geraldine Ho, Lewis Williams, Jose Picardo
To our Graphic Designer : Emily Schlüter
Special thanks to: Brett Steele, Giulia Foscari, Ekaterina Golovatyuk, Jack Self, Federico Pompignoli, Lars Müller, Federica Sofia Zambe Jack Self, Christina Nan, and Rory Stott and Amanda Pimenta from ArchDaily for their valuable time & opinions
Finally, a huge thank you to anyone reading this right now. We wouldn’t have gotten here without people like you. Happy Birthday V64.
-Lloyd Sukgyo Lee and Sabrina Syed