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.
Category Archives: Thoughts, ideas, musing
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!
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:
Find out more about tours and local art at: http://www.injalak.com/
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.
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.
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?
What is a sustainable population for our planet? The population question has always been the elephant in the room for me when it comes to the sustainability debate. Sitting here before a computer in an affluent western economy, who am I to wail and moan about threats to my comfort from an increasing global demand for a lifestyle like mine?
In the short time I’ve been participating in the Linked In networking forum I’ve connected with some diverse and amazing people from all over the world. These people have self-identified with certain interests in sustainability and ways toward a more positive resilient future.
A stand out contact is Mr Willi Paul from Northern California who launched his Planet Shifter initiative on Earth Day 2009. Willi is proof positive that there are people out there doing marvellous things to help make our future look more optimistic. I was honoured and delighted when he asked me to be interviewed and thereby join the extensive ranks of folks on similar journeys.
You can view the interview at:
Consider this: ‘Is it wrong to assume that a huge step to finding solutions to global problems, and averting future crises, will be taken if we can think in the spirit of community and fraternity, not as individual entities? When we accept that this is a world of people all alike, of families all alike, of communities all alike – of countries facing the same challenges – of human beings ultimately seeking the same thing – then we will truly be in a position to foster well being, security and happiness’ The King of Bhutan (2008). The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is the home of the Gross National Happiness index.
Transcript of my address to the Brisbane Shape Your City Heart forum, November 10, 2009:
I think the art and architecture of an era is a reliable measure of the values of the society that created it. Each golden age produces memorable buildings that not only capture our imagination today, but also crystallise the values, dreams and aspirations of their time.
So what might the role of Architecture be in a prosperous future for Brisbane? Continue reading
I’ve been having a recurring dream. I dreamt it again last night, so maybe writing it down will make a difference?
At first, in this dream I don’t realise that I’ve slipped into a parallel universe. My surroundings look entirely familiar, until I step outside. It is a beautiful spring morning, warm sunshine, a gentle breeze, birdsong on the air, and unusually peaceful for a weekday. Then I notice that ‘my’ street has changed. The road pavement is narrower and most of the houses have lost their driveways. Carports and garages are missing. The street trees are bigger and there are more of them. Where driveways had been there are footpaths and gardens. Garden plots overflowing with food crops transform the streetscape. In the distance I see some neighbours out tending their gardens, or talking. Youngsters are playing a ball game on the road. On the road! Then the realisation hits me; no cars! Where are all the cars? Continue reading