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.
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.
COVID-19 has created problems in every sector of life, and the building industry is no exception. However, it is also true that with a crisis like this, people think differently, and lateral thinking certainly creates new ideas and opportunities.
Lockdown may have recently ended, but a lot is happening under the covers, and innovators are coming up with great ideas to meet the Government’s net-zero goals. The Climate Change Committee’s ambition is to have 5.5 million heat pumps, recognise hydrogen and decarbonise heat. Here are a few tasters of exciting developments and thoughts.
Under the £2bn Green Homes Grant scheme, homeowners and landlords in England are able to apply for vouchers worth up to two thirds the cost of upgrading the energy efficiency of their home – maximised at £5000. While this worthwhile and essential scheme is to be welcomed, it also generates a large number of concerns.
In these dramatically changing times, it is remarkable what there is to find by simply using the word ‘innovation’ as a digging tool.
Writing in the Times last month, Architect Norman Foster relates how he was asked in a BBC documentary to name his favourite building. Without hesitation, he cited the now disappearing Jumbo 747. Six storeys high at the tail, with about 3000ft2 of space, five lavatories, three kitchens and room for 367 guests, he believes the 747 is genuinely architectural both in its design and its thinking. And, what’s more, it flies!
Architects, urban planners and roof designers are no longer dismissive of this ‘new’ building material which was widely introduced to them 12 years ago. Any initial hesitation they may have originally expressed has given way to a profound understanding and professionalism which has radically influenced our urban environment. In other words, they are no longer ‘green’ about the enormous physical, social and money-saving benefits of green roofs.
Two major benefits, surprisingly, have come along in the wake of Coronavirus. These are a greater awareness of the community (the wartime spirit) and greater awareness about keeping healthy, active and interested (both personal and public). The best architects and designers have always realised that these factors are fundamental to the success and appreciation of well-designed public buildings.