Old Street, new media city? As we stare out of the WHAT_architecture office window and survey the ‘Tech City Silicon Roundabout’ that, this week, was trumpeted from a unified PM and Mayoral bandwagon, we wonder if the redevelopment of the Old Street roundabout will really accelerate (East) London’s ambitions to become Europe’s startup capital? Of course you need financial capital to become a capital city and this roundabout has for some time been a mobility centrifuge of commerce and creativity. Those that walk past our office window have for sometime been readily characterised (chastised?) by their attire as much as their direction: ‘bankers to right, hipsters to the left’.

The snappy designation of Old Street Roundabout as “Silicon Roundabout” can be traced to Dopplr’s Matt Biddulph who, in 2008, defined it as “the ever-growing community of fun startups in London’s Old Street area”. Using Biddulph’s Google map as a cue, Wired Magazine then used its readership too crowd source, populate and produce it’s own map of the Shoreditch ‘Ditcherati’ which was featured in the January 2010 issue.

There are other European cities however with startup capital city aspirations. In the same week as Boris and Dave powerpointed an artist’s impression (read architectural perspective), the Guardian headlined a story on ‘How poor but sexy Berlin has tapped talent to be Europe’s startup capital…’ with an image of the founder of the online gaming company Wooga (who’s Alexanderplatz office bears an uncanny cartoon resemblance to one of their own games). London vs Berlin? Silicon Roundabout vs SiliconAllee? Game on!



Leave a Reply