The latest in a series of practice profiles looking at those who have recently decided to go it alone
Main people Igor Marko and Petra Havelska
Based Old Street, London EC1
Where have you come from?
Our paths crossed collaborating on public realm projects. Igor previously led FoRM Associates, an urban design practice. Petra worked on projects at John McAslan + Partners before qualifying as a ‘creative entrepreneur’ at Goldsmiths to develop her role as enabler and facilitator. We combine our skills to understand the complex layers of the city, link them in unexpected ways and create new narratives.
What work do you have and what kind of projects are you looking for?
Our work ranges from ‘acupuncture’ urban design projects through to masterplanning consultancy. Our role is often strategic, looking at the overlaps between place, processes and people, and goes beyond the physical aspects of design to address socio-economic issues. We are involved with several high street regeneration schemes in the UK, while developing a role as facilitators of public space regeneration in Central and Eastern European cities.
What are your ambitions?
To pioneer new ways of city-making that move away from mechanical planning processes to dynamic and adaptable urbanism.
What are the biggest challenges facing you?
We have made a fundamental decision to shift from product-focused to process-based practice, where communication is at the heart of what we do. We can see many new strands across the profession that start to shape the face of a new era in city-making. The biggest challenge is for these to gain critical mass in order to transform generic and technocratic industry models.
Which scheme, completed in the past five years, has inspired you most?
The High Line in NYC, mainly because it shows how crucial negotiation and process is in creative placemaking. Unfortunately, many cities try to replicate the ‘High Line effect’, without understanding that design alone won’t always achieve the desired result.
How are you marketing yourselves?
For us it’s all about building trust. It involves an open mind for ‘ideas that never sleep’ and lots of hard work, of course.