The latest RIBA CPD theme focuses on the ‘bubble’ that surrounds us as we live, play and work indoors. It suggests that as the physical boundary between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building, the building envelope must keep its users safe while also addressing the practicalities of day-to-day living. Many of the manufacturers and service providers which these CPDs feature are industry leaders in providing that protection. It reminds us that many of their popular seminars are still available online. Below are a selection of other pre-spring observations.

The Grenfell Tower tragedy exposed fundamental and deep-rooted issues over competency, highlighting major skills and knowledge gaps amongst those responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and day-to-day operation of buildings. In this article, Jonathan O’Neill OBE, Managing Director of the Fire Protection Association (FPA), explores whether the issue of competency has become clearer since Grenfell, and argues that a greater degree of focus must be placed on fire safety competence and accountability for those responsible for building design.

Sally Lewis describes the start of her career as an exploration of what architectural education could offer. She was a practicing Architect in South Africa by the mid-‘90s, but turned to urban design thanks to a scholarship to study in the UK. By the turn of the millennium, she had completed an MA in urban design and was in the UK for good, building up her career with roles at the likes of Llewellyn Davies, John McAslan + Partners, CABE and HTA. Here, we find out about Sally’s time in South Africa, discover the designs she’s worked on here in the UK and learn more about the opening of her firm, Stitch Architects.

This is springtime. Historically, it is also the time to experience the annual Surface Design Show held annually in London. Sadly, that was not to be because of its COVID cancellation until February next year. Happily, the Surface Design Awards themselves were unaffected and this year attracted 113 entries from 18 different counties. The three main winners are illustrated here and detailed at the end.

Awareness of mental and physical wellbeing has never been greater, yet many of us are spending more time than ever online – and it’s taking its toll. Here, Sophie Weston, Channel Marketing Manager at Geberit, examines the role that the bathroom has to play in helping us escape from our ‘always-on’ world and examines the importance of considering each of our senses in creating the perfect sanctuary.

Cynthia Leung, Design Manager at Canary Wharf Contractors, is a qualified Architect. After working in a practice for a number of years and keen to gain exposure in the front end of the industry in relation to construction and property development, she moved to Canary Wharf Contractors to build upon her experience. Here, Cynthia talks to FC&A about her professional experience.

Celebrating a decade of working within the architectural industry, Hala ElKhorazaty, Senior Interior Designer at Perkins&Will London, looks back on her past 10 years in the sector and describes when her interest in architecture and design began.

What will our cities look like in a post-COVID-19 era? 3deluxe was commissioned by New York-based organisation #WeThePlanet (WTP) to create an inspirational structure that nurtures and investigates new opportunities for people-friendly architecture in harmony with nature. Here, FC&A explores the German firm’s forward-thinking campus that projects a future where people and nature can live harmoniously alongside one another.

Matt Hollis from Commodore Design, the specialist in quality kitchens for residential developments, discusses the role of future trend analysis in aligning kitchen specification with style influences that appeal to buyers when properties are ready to market.

The building envelope makes a significant contribution to overall energy usage – therefore, tighter U-values in walls, floors and roofs is absolutely key. It’s why getting the design right from the outset is far less costly than retrofitting later. Here, Ben Cheetham, Specification Manager at Keystone Lintels, looks at the benefits of a one-piece thermally-efficient lintel including low thermal conductivity performance, buildability, improved SAP calculations and why they are up to five times more thermally efficient than standard lintels.

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