September 2010 issue

Last month I was at my sister’s 25th wedding anniversary party, and we were talking about the things we take for granted now, that we didn’t have a whole quarter of a century ago in 1985. DVDs were a long way away (I didn’t have a CD player until 1988!), mobile phones, dish washers, computers, cars with air conditioning (unless you were really well off), broadband, digital radio, the list goes on…

It got me thinking to what the building industry has now that it didn’t 25 years ago. Design technology has come on in enormously, clients can now take virtual tours around projects, the whole project team can hold a virtual meeting at any time, a BlackBerry means you’re never away from the office – is this good or bad (?), and Health & Safety legislation, whilst being the butt of many a joke, has transformed the industry’s injury statistics.

The things you expect as standard now were rare then – every town has luxury kitchen and bathroom specialists, and nowadays the renewable market is commonplace – in 1985 you’d have been a mad old hippy if you had a wind turbine. We now ask so much more from our built environment. We look in horror at a kitchen with no dishwasher; double glazing and superior insulation are taken for granted; air conditioning is finding its way in to ‘normal’ homes as well as most offices.

There’s a house near to where I live that I drive past often. It’s a really annoying house. It’s on a fabulous big plot with amazing views. And it has to be the most boring design – and there’s no excuse for that. It’s a sloping site, so you could have gone with a really contemporary design, glazed front elevation and staggered floors. It’s a rural area, so maybe an exposed beam oak frame. But big, square and brick? It’s been pointed out to me that if that’s the most annoying thing in my life I lead a pretty blissful existence. But that’s by people who haven’t seen this house… Shall we start a most boring building feature? Send me your pics, and I’ll check with the legal department!

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Future Constructor & Architect is a specification platform for architects and building contractors, which focuses on top-end domestic and commercial developments.

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