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.
Tag Archives: resilience
“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?
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.
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 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.
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