Stifling innovation #2: Overland Flow

This story is a follow on from the British Standard Fire Test of an earlier post. It is the story of how an attempt to be innovative with design in the aftermath of a major natural disaster foundered on the rocks of tick-box regulation.

Satellite image of Chelmer on the Brisbane River in January 2011. Source; ABC/Nearmap.

Satellite image of Chelmer on the Brisbane River in January 2011. Source; ABC/Nearmap.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Relentless but Futile

SEO graphic
Every week I receive spam emails that use the same basic template. They are relentless but futile, so I thought they would eventually decline – no sign of that after more than a year… Not even with spam filters and blacklists in place.

Here’s a post-mortem on a typical example from my deleted items folder: Continue reading

Stifling innovation #1: The British Standard Fire Test

Fire Test

Whilst working as an architect in London in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I encountered what has become my template for inflexible regulations that stifle innovation. An encounter with the British Standard Fire Test is now my metaphor for the architect’s equivalent of a Catch-22 situation – thank you Joseph Heller!

Continue reading

Image

Injalak Rock Art Galleries

I recently had the privilege to spend some time working with the people of Gunbalanya, a small community in West Arnhem Land, part of the ‘great top end’ of Australia. Whilst there I was taken on a tour of the ancient rock art galleries of Injalak Hill.

This is a brief visual diary of that experience:

Injalak Hill from Gunbalanya

Injalak Hill from Gunbalanya

Into the wild... wet season buffalo grass grows to over 8 feet and is razor sharp

Into the wild… wet season buffalo grass grows to over 8 feet and is razor sharp

Pausing for breath and breathtaking views across the flood plain

Pausing for breath and breathtaking views across the flood plain

Viewing the gallery as it has been for thousands of years - no walkways, barricades or interpretive signs

Viewing the gallery as it has been for thousands of years – no walkways, barricades or interpretive signs

Up close and personal Gary Djorlam shares some of the stories and explains the meaning of the paintings

Up close and personal Gary Djorlam shares some of the stories and explains the meaning of the paintings

Rock polished by human contact over the millennia and an ochre grinding bowl carved by stone tools

Rock polished by human contact over the millennia and an ochre grinding bowl carved by stone tools

X-ray style painting - a Barramundi is good eating

X-ray style painting – a Barramundi is good eating

Digging for bush tucker

Digging for bush tucker

Gunbalanya viewed from Injalak Hill

Gunbalanya viewed from Injalak Hill

Find out more about tours and local art at: http://www.injalak.com/

Doha Dreaming

Doha Dreaming

“There is surely a correspondence between an exhausted culture and a populace devolved so far into mental dullness that it can’t recognize its predicament. We don’t seem to get how much the industrial production spree of the past 200 years has just plumb worn us out, not to mention the ecosystem we were designed to dwell in” writes James Howard Kunstler under the title “Modernity Bites” this November 26, 2012.

James’ thesis is that we are at the end of the industrial era and that the economic structures it has spawned are imploding around us.

What if we just accept the reality that the industrial spree was a self-limiting adventure and now we have to move on?

Continue reading

Community Based Renewable Energy Programs

City of Victor Harbor

Victor Harbor South Australia

I’ve been inspired recently by genuine grass-roots community initiatives to regain control of their energy security as a buffer against increasing costs and supply disruptions through investment in cooperative style renewable energy.  The City of Victor Harbor in South Australia in particular has made an impressive start – more below, but first some background.

Continue reading

Doing the dishes?

The Question: (from Europe)

Within a business / home environment what should be considered to be the least environmental pressing way of doing the dishes:

  • washing dishes by hand?

  • automated cleaning of dishes?
  •  buying disposable tableware, plates and cups?

My Answer:

There are so many variables here that no single answer will be the best choice. The impacts of each option above could be large or small depending upon context.

We need to dig a little deeper to find the best approach

Continue reading

Five Tips for Low-Impact Living

There is a lot to think about when trying to live a low-impact lifestyle particularly if as I do you live in an affluent western society.

Without doubt our western lifestyle has evolved into something of a monster rapaciously consuming resources and spewing out pollutants at an exponentially increasing rate.  We know this is unsustainable, but how can you or I make any real difference?  Easy. Change happens when something better comes along. That ‘something better’ doesn’t just appear by magic it is pioneered by innovators and early adopters until eventually the idea reaches a tipping point, then everyone is into it.

After 25 years of studying and practicing architecture I’ve distilled five principles that underpin low-impact (maybe even sustainable) living principles for built environments.

Continue reading

Out of the Blue – a new model for a resilient economy:

10 Years, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs Returning to business as usual as soon as possible was the mainstream mantra after September 2008; such was the shock of the collapse. A crash like that is never an easy time for considered reform and few countries had the resources to make any serious attempt in any case, so invested were we all in the good old days of cheap abundant energy and exponential growth. August 2011; here we go again?

Continue reading

20s Plenty for Us

What a delight to stumble across the website of 20’s Plenty for Us!

My hypothetical Parallel Universe turns out to be in the UK…

In March 2010 when I first wrote about an imaginary futuristic world where the maximum speed of any powered road transport device is 30-km/h within urban areas the notion seemed plausible to me, but most readers politely suggested the idea would remain a dream.  It turns out that dreams can come true:  The 20’s Plenty for Us movement in the UK (20 mph = 32-km/h) appears to be gaining some real traction.

Already 5m residents live in towns which are adopting or have adopted this policy. Most importantly, through democratic debate those communities have decided that “20s Plenty Where People Live”. And it is those same communities who have then changed their behaviour to drive slower in residential streets and where people walk and cycle.

via 20s Plenty for Us.

Continue reading