David Cameron and Boris Johnson have announced plans to transform ‘Silicon Roundabout’ into “Europe’s largest indoor civic space”.
The government will invest £50m in a regeneration project that aims to transform the centre of Old Street Roundabout into a hub dedicated to startups and entrepreneurs.
Speaking at the Urban Age Electric City Conference in Shoreditch yesterday, Cameron said: “This amazing new space will provide entrepreneurs and startup businesses with the facilities and the spaces they need to succeed but which, individually, they might not be able to afford themselves.”
Designed by architects 00:/, in collaboration with Hackney and Islington councils, the new building will house classrooms, auditoriums, flexible office space and a 3D printing lab, as well as exhibition spaces and workshop zones.
Designers’ plans for the area say: “The paradox of ‘Silicon Roundabout’ is that it is simultaneously the centre-piece of the tech enterprise story in east London, but at the same time a conspicuous and embarrassing void.
”[The hub] aims to do for Tech what the Barbican Centre and the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern have done for the arts. This would include tech expos, live events, public talks and cultural pop-ups.”
Matthew Evans, co-director of Hoxton Mix, a creative space provider in Shoreditch, welcomes the development.
He told Eastlondonlines: “At the moment, the billboard on the roundabout is one of the highest-grossing billboards in the UK, but the revenue from it isn’t going into Tech City.
“If the plans are the same as those we have seen, then I think it will definitely benefit the area.”
The announcement of the multi-million pound project was accompanied by news that seven large international firms are committing to Tech City, including Microsoft, KPMG and IBM.
Boris Johnson said: “The time is right to lay solid foundations in Tech City for London’s digital revolution, and this list of major new firms committing to the area is a testament to the confidence leading tech entrepreneurs have in the capital.”
Emphasising their plans to connect with Shoreditch’s startup community, a Microsoft spokesperson told Eastlondonlines: “Our plans are to reach over 5,000 startups, students, designers and artists each year through innovation days, peer-to-peer advice and development support.”
“We will also create packages of support for developer apprentices and are working on a new apprenticeship [programme] to support young people in and around Tech City.”
Other investing companies are also planning to develop links with young people. Barclays and Ravensbourne have announced a new creative partnership that will see students taught about technology and design as well as provided with placement opportunities at the company. University College London, partnered with Cisco and and DC Thompson, are opening IDEA London, an online academy focusing on career training and development.
Dubbing the redevelopment the “Silicon Roundabout Hub”, Boris Johnson said: “It will provide not only a vital resource to nurture upcoming technology and creative superstars from around the world, it will drive huge investment into the capital and help create thousands of jobs.”