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...sustainability issues seem to be overlooked


I'd like to comment on your Working Detail for the Gorst house in Sussex. On close inspection, some intriguing details raise questions not only about professional competence but also about architects' responsibility to the environment, and (dare I say it) the AJ's own responsibility in the sustainability debate.

The details concern coldbridging. This seems to occur through the concrete edge beam above the window (bottom right on page 35), through the concrete floor where there is only 25mm of insulation (next isometric along), and through the gutter and along the internal rainwater pipe, which appears not to be insulated (or if this is not shown on the drawing, there is still insufficient space for it). I would also question the use of plywood sheathing on the outside of the studwork, and general aspects of the glazing and solar control, but perhaps these are separate matters.

I am staggered that this sort of detailing even left the architects' office to get built, but unfortunately it did, and presumably the client will suffer from problems of condensation and mould growth which the architects will be answerable for.

But this aside, I am amazed the message about designing responsibility towards the environment has still not reached architects.We may not all be in a position to design super-insulated houses, but 25mm of rigid insulation beggars belief in this day and age.

I enjoy reading about nicelooking Modern buildings, but this enjoyment is spoiled if the Working Details are suspect.

Surely the AJ has a role in this, and should include details only when they are designed correctly and responsibly. Personally, I might go further and exclude featuring such buildings full-stop. The architects should be sent away with fleas in their ears, and be told they can only get the credit when they fully comply with Standard 5 (clause 5.1) of the ARB Architects Code/Standards of Conduct and Practice.

Adam Voelcker, Gwynedd

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