Here’s a bit of an update on life at Substrakt (well overdue I must add, definitely going to make more effort on the blog).

Updated site and brand

For those have visited our blog before you will notice the re-vamp, this is to match our newly styled web site and slightly tweaked brand. We felt that we had developed considerably since the last site and branding, so wanted to have a bit of an overhaul.

Our new strap line is ‘creative communication’, we felt this portrayed our services and the way we work with clients more effectively. Previously, ‘web – print – ident’, although our main services, was too specific. We have recently been involved in projects where we provide full marketing and advertising packages and want to move forward with this type of service, so just marketing our core skills as separate entities didn’t really cut the mustard.

New addition to the Substrakt team

We welcomed Carlie in late September, a talented graphic designer, who recently graduated from Bath Spa.


We have been working on several architecture and urban design projects:

MA Urban Design

We completed a prospectus for the MA in Urban Design at Birmingham School of Architecture.

School of Architecture Centenary

The school are due to celebrate their 100-year anniversary next year. We are currently working with the school to develop a brand identity to mark this special occasion. Alongside marketing the Centenary and the commemorative ball, we are creating a web site that will offer the alumni a chance to reunite.


This successful land planning company with offices in Birmingham and London have been working with Substrakt to develop numerous pieces of design work. We have produced documents that have helped them present development plans.

CUDOS (Centre for Urban Design Outreach and Skills)

The centre advances excellence in urban design skills by developing community-centred solutions in housing, neighbourhoods, and the wider built environment. Substrakt have branded and are in the process of developing marketing material for CUDOS, and the development of a web site in the near future.


We are giving MADE’s web site a bit of an overhaul with a new style and some technical developments. This will be finished and uploaded at the end of next week.

‘First Site’

Based on a previous project, ‘Youth Space’, MADE (Midlands Architecture & the Designed Environment) are running a creative communities project titled ‘First Site’. This project develops models of practice for young people’s creative participation in the built environment. We are creating a brand, followed up by a web site, which allows project participants to display project work and discuss issues.

Other projects:


The new site is up, promoting Jibbering’s spectrum of activity as well as hosting their online record shop.


We have recently been working on an ‘advertising’ job, creating Christmas promotional material for the Old Square shopping centre in Walsall. Liaising with the Express and Star to take advert space and distribute leaflets.

The Regent Arcade

The Regent Arcade is Cheltenham’s largest shopping centre. We have given them a brand new web site, which includes a full content management system and an interactive store guide. The project also included developing a virtual tour of the shopping centre, which gave us the chance to show off some 3d skills. We also developed print work including store guides and roll up banners advertising the launch of the web site.

The site was launched last friday, and all this week there has been a spot in the arcade where our 3d creation, along with clips of the web site, is being displayed on a big plasma screen alongside the print collateral.

It was a great honor to be working on this project as Cheltenham is my home town, and i spent many a penny of my pocket money in the regent arcade.

Joe Holyoak

Joe is an Architect and Urban Designer with a practice on Fazeley Street, Digbeth. He is very active in the political and practical arenas of architecture, conservation and urban planning, particularly in Birmingham.

We have just uploaded his web site, with a news/blog section enabling him to share his interesting views, ideas, and projects.

Media Temple (mt) Server Switch

In 2002, when my friend James Kelly and I started building web sites forged with the table and the spacer gif, we often looked to the greats of that time for inspiration. One thing that seemed unanimous across these sites was their choice of hosting; they all sported the ‘hosted by (mt)’ logo. It was the wide spread adoption by these design-focused companies that has given mediatemple it’s reputation, least in my mind. Back then, our sites were hobbies, learning experiences, or for favours & friends. We would never have needed, nor afforded such hosting requirements.

Given this humble anecdote, it’s surprising that 5 years on I find myself transferring the sites we manage to a mediatemple dedicated virtual (dv) server.

Good things come to those who wait.

Creative City Awards

The Creative City Awards started out as a celebration of success for businesses who have participated in the BSCI (Business Support for the Creative Industries) programme. This year is the first year the awards have been open to all businesses, regardless of participation on the BSCI programme.

We were lucky to have received support through the BSCI programme. Initially came the feasibility grant which helped us to market and promote our business, mainly through the production and distribution of a self promotion brochure. Then we were successful in our application for the creative space grant, which was a huge help in getting us from working at home to our studio in the Custard Factory.

We were extremely pleased to find out that we have been short listed for this years Creative City Awards. The category we are forward for is the ‘Most Promising New Business Start Up’ Award. The award ceremony takes place at the ICC on the 19th July.

More info about the Creative City Awards here.

iPlayer and 4od? not if you use a Mac!

I’ve just been checking out the BBC’s new on demand TV service, iPlayer, due for launch later on this year, whilst reading I discovered iPlayer would not be available for the Mac. After being informed of this I went to have a little look at Channel 4’s similar service, 4od, this has been running since December 2006, and is not available on the Mac.

Quite ironically on the homepage for 4od, is a large advert for the Peep show, with Mitchell and Webb who have just appeared in the latest Mac adverts!

I’m also pretty sure Apple can’t be too happy with the BBC calling their new service iPlayer!

After further investigation I found that this unavailability is due to copyright issues, as Apple refuse to license their FairPlay DRM (Digital Rights Management) copy rights protection to third parties, meaning broadcasters will be open to copyright abuse if they allow Mac users access. For more info go to vnunet.

Converted to Mac OSX

I have always been a Windows man, using a Mac occasionally, but never enough to get hooked. I’m the same with mobile phones, I always go back to the Nokia after trying and testing other mobile phone operating systems. I recently brought a Mac book with the intention of running Windows. When the Mac book arrived I installed Windows alongside OSX, but made a conscious decision to at least try OSX for a trial period… as I did buy a Mac!

I can now officially say the trial period is over and I’m still on OSX… and loving it! I had a few initial problems/worries with the change over, Nokia not writing OSX software for their connecting package for example, but this is something I got over very easily when I discovered iSync. I still can’t sync directly with entourage, as I used to do with outlook express, but I don’t think that’s the end of the world! (but if anyone can help with that I’d be grateful).

Grafik Turns 150

If you get chance, take a look at the 150th issue of Grafik magazine this month. Each cover has been screen-printed making no two covers the same. In the same vein, the issue details case studies of unique printing & packaging processes – some of which are nothing short of spectacular in both idea and execution.


We are pleased to be working with our friends at Jibbering to develop their new web presence. The development will include an updated version of Jibbering records web site (cms, e-commerce, catalogue management… the lot!), along with new sites for their live events element and art gallery. We are also welcoming Jibbering onto the blogosphere by setting up a blog to act as a portal to their sites and a one-stop Jibbering news feed. Due to launch end of April.

Adobe Creative Suite 3.0 launch confirmed for March 27

Hooray!!! The long awaited CS3 set to be launched at a special party in New York at the end of the month.

Speculators are saying that the possible applications might be: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks marking the first truly integrated suite since Adobe bought Macromedia.

Welcome to Subspace

We are pleased to announce Subspace, a service dedicated to providing high quality 3d visualisations.

We have only just got going, and have just today won our first client, an architectural firm based in the jewellery quarter.

Watch this space…

2Ghz to play PONG

PLASMA PONG is a variation of PONG that utilizes real-time fluid dynamics to drive the game environment.

Last night I came across Plasma PONG. This version of the coin-op Atari classic adds real-time fluid dynamics into the mix, resulting in

It’s minimum system requirements are a far cry form the MOS 6502 CPU used in the Atari 2600. A 2.0 Ghz P4 or AMD equivalent & 128MB GPU is recommended, to cope with calculating the real-time fluid dynamics.

At only 7mb, it’s well worth a download, if only to play with the various settings in the sandbox mode to produce some pretty spectacular visualisations.

Brand New Site & Blog!

Welcome to our spanking new blog, styled up in line with our brand new site (due for launch mid march). We hope to keep this blog regularly updated with any of our news and projects, and just general interesting stuff that we come across. We have also invited our good friends ‘the architects’ to come and contribute, so there is likely to be some architecture related topics too.

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