One morning in June 2015 Tom said he had heard about a new business incubator at RIBA London he wanted to apply for, and I said “Yeah…..ok,” before forgetting all about it and carrying on with something else. I never thought much about it, or that we’d get in, because in some ways back then our practice was still just a plan; an aspiration. Fees were a figment of our fevered imagination, while on the other hand the RIBA is a huge presence in architecture, a large professional organization with a bit of form. No chance.
Strange then that now we’re getting ready to leave the RIBA London incubator, and looking back at an eventful 17.0627813 months as the first company to graduate back into the world.
Hoos is the love child of meticulous hours spent inspecting both Borough Market and Bermondsey boozers. Tom and I sat next to each other at a commercial practice in the depths of the credit crunch. I competed with 700 applicants for an assistant role (not even lying), while T did his Part 3. These two facts alone warranted an oceanic volume of fermented hops. But FFWD 3 years, when we met up in the George for a quiet drink, to chat business. Which of course translates to let’s shout nonsense to each other as the folk musicians who’ve come to play set up nearby and jam at 130db.
But this was probably the most exciting thing about Hoos – chaotic situations are the intention. And music is key for both of us; from my Sheffield record store that I ran for years to Tom’s love of a punk ethic. The folk musicians were brilliant – there was no room for them so they set up in a circle around our table. “Let’s do this” was their attitude; and it was fitting - architecture should and could be this exciting.
And in the heart of that impromptu folk ensemble, we shouted to each other about doing business ethically, working with social housing providers and how Hoos sounds Danish or Scottish depending on who says it. It was nuts, and great. A loose manifesto was formed on punk and soul and social enterprise and just doing buildings that work, for people. And let’s be anti-establishment with it. Yeah? Yeah. Hmm. Ace.
So I was pretty shocked when our application to rent a desk within the professional body founded for the advancement of ‘A’rchitecture (c.1834), was successful (insert smiley face). Hoos was the second company to be accepted, and for a while a big empty office separated us from Dan Marks way over there on the other side. (Hi Dan).
Gradually the spaces filled up and my working for Hoos changed from one day a week to 2 days and then 5; until today which is our last day at the RIBA London offices, 76 Portland Place. 1.4219 years later. We’re both full-time on Hoos and have 6 live projects; we put fee proposals together and sometimes it works. We haven’t smashed the system yet, but have been helped massively by the support of RIBA London (Hi Owen), who we are pleased to say didn’t make us wear ties or pay for coffee. They should do this for all the regions. We’re actually now in business doing buildings and things, in many ways thanks to the support of the RIBA London incubator. Next stop Dalston.