Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2007

Via zerochampion, the Guardian’s architecture commentator suggests that buildings

…should only really be offered prizes 20 years after their completion. While we can comment on the merit of the design, look and feel of a particular building when new, and celebrate the intentions of its designers, there is no guarantee that it might not prove to be a failure.

I know we ought to be happy that architecture is being discussed on TV at all. Having said that, if I were in charge of the Stirling Prize I’d consider actual measured energy use and give occupants a vote on whether they think the building is a success.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Client (on seeing the staircase dominating his hall): But I didn’t want a black marble staircase, I wanted an oak one!

Lutyens: What a pity.

miesThis is driving me nuts. There’s now a huge emphasis on sustainability in architecture but some architects still don’t get it. Aflame with good intentions at the start of projects, they enthusiastically buy into sustainability concepts. But later in the design when there’s a perceived conflict between the energy performance and the architecture, the energy performance is chucked out the window.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

nokiaVia No Impact Man, I came across an article by Johann Hari, originally published in the Independent in 2006. In it, Johann traces the roots of the ongoing conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo to the scramble for natural resources; in particular coltan, a metal used in electronics like mobile phones and Playstations. 80% of the world’s supply of coltan is found in the DRC, where 4 million people have died in five years.

The choices we make, especially in the goods and energy we consume, have a direct influence on the lives of others. It’s difficult to mentally connect my cell phone and a mine in DRC, but the connection is there whether I choose to see it or not. My standard of living doesn’t exist in a vacuum and you could question how much of it I have a legitimate right to.

Read Full Post »

Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) is often put forward as part of a low-energy design strategy for homes. The principle is that you build your house air-tight to minimise air infiltration and then mechanically supply fresh air via a heat exchanger. This heat exchanger captures the heat energy in the warm outgoing air and transfers it to the fresh incoming air. Some MVHR units can reclaim as much as 90% of outgoing heat, potentially making drastic cuts to your heating load while maintaining high internal air quality (that’s the theory). All of this is part of the build tight, ventilate right strategy that you hear so much about.

But how air-tight do you have to build before MVHR makes sense? I took a look using SAP 2005, and here are the results:

(more…)

Read Full Post »

state of the world population 2007Next year we reach a milestone unprecedented in history when more than half of all people will live in cities. This comes from the UN’s new State of the World Population report, which strikes an interesting tone. The authors acknowledge the huge risks of increasing rates of urbanisation, particularly for the poor, but also maintain that if we get our urban planning and public administration right, we can design out the worst of our environmental and social problems. And anyway, urbanisation is inevitable because you can’t have economic growth without it.

You could argue that here in the developed world, we’ve got enough urban planning experience under our belts to allow us to meet the challenge. Except that the developed world is not where the real expansion is set to take place. Most of the shift will occur in Asia and Africa where “the accumulated urban growth of these two regions during the whole span of history will be duplicated in a single generation.” So to describe the pace of expansion as breakneck is putting it mildly.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Just heard from the folks at the Carbon Trust who are doing the micro-CHP field trials. The release date for the next interim report has been pushed back to the end of August with the methodology to follow some time after. Advise not holding breath.

Read Full Post »