01 | a simple mission

On arriving in London to study my master's, I noticed that the typical consumer had grown accustomed to a rather basic relationship with the environment: use it and bin it. At its core, Renew had a simple mission—give a second life to all of the newspapers and consumer packaging that was inevitably being landfilled. (+)


02 | the bomb-proof bin

It took us more than a year to spot a fundamental challenge with Renew which could very well have been the early show-stopper. Where the most premium audiences were walking, working and travelling, there were no bins in London as they were a traditional target for terrorism. (+)


03 | outdoor media 2.o

Renew was not a first mover in the area of public space recycling and outdoor advertising. In Toronto, where I grew up, a company had demonstrated that it was indeed possible to raise revenues from passive media on bins. But I felt there was an opportunity to do better. (+)


04 | the holes don’t line up

Renew is where I met my fellow co-founders of AYR, Ian Murison (whom I affectionately call "Mew") and Adrian Bennett ("Adie") while deloping the Renew outdoor display technology in the UK and the blast technology with a consortium of partners in the US. Now, we needed to pull it all together into one product. I found an industrial design practice quite fortuitously near me, and the rest is history. (+)


05 | the visual space

This is where I told the Renew story. From 2004 until 2013, we rented a 3,000 square foot space under the railway arches at the juncture of Crucifix Lane and Druid Street. The landlord, David Leonard, would, in turn, become not only the Logistics Director of Renew and help hand-assemble the first 100 Renew Pods that we deployed in the City of London but also a close friend and confidant throughout the project. (+)


06 | streaming on the street

There were many proud moments where we broke the news on the street as quickly as it was on Reuters, BBC, or Bloomberg – sometimes even faster. Although Renew was not a breaking news channel, it was a way to keep in touch on the go with what was happening with hundreds of updates throughout the day. (+)


07 | hacking technology

To create Renew, we developed a number of technologies that ranged from material expertise and blast pressure knowhow to digital coding and streaming our content within any browser. The on-street digital module had all the hardware, software, and connectivity challenges of operating an LCD panel in an open environment.  (+)


Towards the beginning of 2013, Renew began to face three fundamental challenges: the City of London's planning department began to turn against the contract, the Qatari Investment Bank started provisioning their investments, and outdoor media agencies' closed-buying shop represented a fundamental commercial obstacle for new outdoor media networks. (+)

08 | threats we didn’t see


With Renew, we strove to inspire cultural change. We wanted to build a caring and compassionate medium, an aware network that had a reason to exist and had something to say. With Renew, we had to explore, invent, influence, change, innovate, and collaborate to bring the project to life on city streets. But it was a tough first project. (+)

09 | enduring ambition