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Wednesday
Mar052014

Gensler-designed Hackney House Austin Opens at SXSW Interactive

Street view of Gensler's Hackney House. Image © Gensler

The New York Times cites Gensler's Hackney House as an example of the increased international flavor at this year's SXSW Festival.

Gensler’s London and Austin offices have united to bring a bit of the London Borough of Hackney to the city of Austin, Texas and SXSW Interactive, with the launch of Hackney House Austin. The Gensler-designed Hackney House is a pop-up space created specifically during the SXSW Interactive festival, with the goal of re-inforcing the sister city relationship that already exists between Hackney and Austin, Texas, by introducing Hackney’s culture and attitude to the SxSW Interactive audience.

Open March 7 through 10, Hackney House, a self-dubbed “alternative trade mission,” will showcase Hackney’s many creative businesses and start-up enterprises at a series of weekend events that include networking parties, interactive debates, hands-on design workshops and guest lectures based on the theme ‘DESIGN, MAKE and PLACE.’ All events are free and open to the public, although an RSVP is required.

Hackney House originated in 2012 as a pop-up event space created on London’s Shoreditch High Street during the 2012 London Olympics. In 2013, Hackney House made its fringe debut at SxSW Interactive, where futurologist Bruce Sterling declared of the London Borough’s booming tech sector: “Hackney is a force to be reckoned with.” For its 2014 pop-up, Hackney called on Gensler for its global reach—with offices in both London and Austin—as well as its event and tech sector design expertise. The design goal was to translate Hackney’s ‘DESIGN, MAKE and PLACE’ theme into a space that embodies the culture and attitude of London’s coolest creative district, the Borough of Hackney.

“It was important that we re-created the cultural vibrancy of Hackney. The space had to be bigger, the program had to be better in order to re-create and elevate Hackney’s presence in Austin and cementing them as a regular fixture on the ‘fringe’ of the SxSW Interactive calendar,” says Ross Burgoyne, Gensler’s lead designer.

Image © Gensler

Design Highlights:

  • Logistics to create the pop-up space proved challenging, as the site chosen for Hackney House Austin had been vacant for ten years, with very limited water, power and data connections. With a goal of installing the entire space in three days, and de-commissioning and disassembling in one day, carefully orchestrated design and engineering are essential to the success of the pop-up endeavor.

  • Designers leveraged existing conditions to their advantage. Existing walls and floor finishes were left untouched to add the element of urban decay which is so prevalent within pop-up stores across the London Borough. Upcycled materials litter the space. Reclaimed timber pallets create 3D sculptural wall features. Translucent vinyl with printed graphics create the HHA14 visual identity and texture. This combination of decay, re-use, sculptural elements and reclaimed furniture all combine to reflect the Hackney attitude.

Image © Gensler

Event Highlights:

  • On Friday, March 7, at 5:30 p.m. Austin Mayor Leffingwell launches the official opening of Hackney House Austin 2014. The evening marks the first-ever ‘Silicon Drinkabout Austin,’ a legendary Friday meet-up run by London-based 3Beards. Austin marks the Silicon Drinkabout’s 10th worldwide location, joining London, Manchester, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Dublin, Sofia, New York, Toronto and Sao Paolo.

  • On Monday, March 10, at 2:30 Gensler and the London Borough of Hackney curate “PLACE Day.” Gensler Principal David Epstein will lead a panel discussion on how cities like Austin and East London are responding to the demands of rapdly growing creative industries. Panelists will include Kevin Johns, Head of Economic Development of the City of Austin; Marcus Fairs, Editor, Dezeen; Charles Armstrong, The Trampery; Richard Gibbs, Here East.

For a full listing of weekend events at Hackney House London and to RSVP, see the Eventbrite page.

Image © Gensler

Hackney House Austin is not affiliated with SXSW and is a standalone activity of the London Borough of Hackney and its business partners and sponsors in London and Austin as part of the Austin-Hackney Sister Cities business and cultural relationship. SXSW and South by Southwest are registered trademarks owned by SXSW LLC.

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