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Our approach

Making your spaces into places

Our vision at AKKA

“SPACE IS A STRATEGIC TOOL”
— Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes, Architecting Interaction: How to Innovate through Interactions, 2016.

Our work at AKKA is driven by a vision we call Architecting Interaction. We believe that space is a strategic tool that can foster interactions, and any added value or innovation, small or large, starts with interactions. Interactions are the seeds of innovation. At the intersection of the main forms of interaction – creativity, collaboration and learning –added value emerges. This is valid for individuals, organizations and communities. However, we do not and cannot design interactions. Interactions are spontaneous and context-dependent, which means they cannot be designed, nor should they be forced. Instead, we focus on facilitating interactions by designing the context in which interactions emerge.

The three roles of a living space 
In Einstein’s formula E=m
, M is mass, C is the speed of light and E is energy. We, at AKKA, took the liberty of interpreting this formula differently and using it as a metaphor for what we call the flow of a space. Your use of a space and the behavior you show in it, is the flow. At AKKA, we believe that spaces need to be designed to fulfill three distinct roles, and we took the liberty of explaining this through a metaphor by using the equation formulated by Einstein in 1905: E=mc²

1. Mass (m)
The first and well-known role of space is to be the most beautiful inspiring and functional backdrop to the existing and occurring activities. This is the mass of the space – its physical presence. This level of mass is where 99% of Architecture is today. Even the most beautiful and functional spaces are only at the mass level. There are two additional levels: Communicator & Catalyst.
2. Communicator (c)
The second role that we strive for is to create spaces that are an active voice and communicate the identity of the community and its people. This is not about having the company’s logo on the wall but rather, about designing spaces that in their planning, program and explicit energy can communicate the collective vision of their users. Equally important, apart from the fact that space should communicate the identity, vision and values of the community to its guests. It should also communicate this with its daily inhabitants. The space should remind and reconnect every person in the space to the identity of the community
3. Catalyst (c)
The third and most mature role of space is to be a catalyst – an active enabler. We believe that a space has the responsibility to encourage the behavior needed for users to achieve their vision. This is how a space can be an active catalyst for interactions that a group of  people need to engage in on order to perform as best as they can, in order to eventually to achieve their common vision of the community. This is a very proactive role of the space.

E=mc²
As a result, E, is the energy emerging in the right space ‘m’ with the right interactions ‘c2’. In the occasion that a space fulfills all three roles simultaneously, an energy (E) emerges that makes the space a truly Living Space in which people grown and flourish.

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AKKA’s process
To implement our vision of Architecting Interaction – and indeed create spaces that can support, encourage and foster interaction – we cannot work in the same way, and with the same conventional architecture processes as other architects. The mainstream commonly used architectural process does not lead to interactions it leads to static spaces and rigid forms that are at best beautiful. To create spaces that are living – that can support their users and evolve with them – we have developed a different process at AKKA. AKKA’s process is an intrinsically collaborative process based on the engagement of people, for instance, inhabitants, users and visitors, and the co-creation of knowledge.
The AKKA process consists of four stages: Appreciate, Kernel, Kickstart, Adaptation.

This process is obviously more extensive than the standard process of architecture. Apart from the fact that it incorporates all the standard elements of a design and execution process, it also offers additional phases and delivers unique added value to the people that will eventually inhabit the space, as well as stakeholders involved with the process. The AKKA process is based on our belief that users are experts in how to use their space. Therefore, we aim to extract their insights and the patterns regarding their habits, motivations, needs and interactions. We believe it is our responsibility as architects to engage people in a collaborative process to extract these insights from people but also, whenever needed help people figure out what those insights are by asking them the right questions. After collecting and analyzing the insights, we bring them all together into what we call an ‘Aligned Understanding’ we then translate this aligned understanding into a shared vision, which in turn will guide the space design. One of the most important benefits of this process, is the engagement and ownership it creates among people of the space.

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AKKA on stage
Over the years, our vision at AKKA has resonated with numerous audiences across the world and in a variety of industries. Our Founder Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes is continuously invited to consult with various audiences including corporates, entrepreneurs, governmental bodies and others to help them translate the vision of Architecting Interaction and implement it in their own specific situation. Using the vision of Architecting Interaction as an aspirational and operational framework, Stephanie’s speeches explore how to translate the “AKKA process” into actionable steps for any challenge, faced by individuals, businesses, communities or institutions. Recent clients include DHL, Guardian Glass, Saint Gobain, the European Commission & a number of Dutch ministries.

Stephanie’s speaking is driven by her vision of Architecting Interaction. Based on Stephanie’s belief that interactions are the seeds of innovation, Architecting Interaction explores how spaces and contexts can foster the interactions needed for innovation.

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About Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes
Architect, author, international speaker, Founder and CEO of AKKA Architects, Stephanie is part of a new breed of young visionary architects who operate beyond the nowadaysrestrained realm of architecture. A strong advocate of value created through crossdisciplinary interactions. She believes that the most sustainable innovation will happen at the intersection of different fields. Stephanie believes that space can be used as a strategic tool to drive business growth, individuals advancement and social impact. In addition, Stephanie serves on the advisory & executive boards of a number of business & creative organizations, including the Stimuleringsfunds Creative Industry in the Netherlands and Ebbf the international business forum.

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