Chris Medland's Comments
Comment on: Architecture for Humanity co-founders step down
Cameron and Kate inspired me and the other founding trustees of what was AFH UK (now AFH London) to get involved and do our bit a decade ago. I have had the pleasure of meeting Cameron on several occasions and once stepped in to wholly insufficiently 'fill his shoes' when he could not give a talk at an event at the Design Museum. He is a great orator, has endless optimism and a passion for doing the right thing whatever it takes. Together Kate and Cameron have made a real difference not only to people's lives but also to the perception of what architects can do for the benefit of others. In the eyes of many they have made architects human again, and for many volunteers the balance that worthy work can bring to the commercial realities of a high pressured office yields many dividends. It is high time that their work was suitably recognised (MBE?, Cameron is English after all) and I am sure that they both will continue to have a positive influence for the greater good in whatever field they focus their efforts.
Comment on: Pitman Tozer unwraps Notting Hill terrace revamp
very nice indeed.
Comment on: Government announces new Part L changes
Although I welcome progress in sustainability standards it is pointless if the Government continue giving tax incentives for shale gas fracking. Making the national grid carbon neutral and sustainable is the only way to really secure our energy future
Zero Carbon Grid = Good (but currently is not going to be achieved as Shale Gas burning power stations looks like the governments favoured option). European Zero Energy design standards 2020 programme = Good (take the emphasis off carbon and make it about not needing any energy as we can’t rely on the Grid being decarbonised). SAP calculations and CfSH focus on airtightness and high insulation, in our view = misguided bordering on BAD. Reason: Climate change is happening now, the UK is getting hotter and the buildings we design now need to be future proofed now. The average temperature in the UK will have risen by 6 degrees by 2100, with an expected 30 very hot days a year. The majority of the remaining days will be mild and very few extremely cold. Do you see airtight homes in Southern France, Spain, Portugal or Italy? This is the type of climate heading our way. The reason for this, as we are all experiencing this week, is natural ventilation and the ability to loose heat and not gain too much of it. The standards now are shaped for heat retention and minimal air flow – these homes will need air conditioning in years to come. The balance between retaining heat and having the ability to shed it (in a zero energy, passive, way) has perhaps gone too far?
congratulations Debbie, some beautiful renderings
Comment on: Housing registrations plummet 12%
Fewer ‘ugly’ new homes perhaps? The problem with the ‘ugly’ issue is not in the design, it is in the procurement, tenure and brief. With the necessary raising of sustainability standards the issues of cost, quality and time are going to become even more challenging. All the ingredients of the solution to the housing shortfall and impending crisis are being lined up reasonably well by the current government but in a drip feed fashion. A key part of the solution is build-to-let. Pension funds have billions to invest for long term returns; therefore our design briefs will inherently have whole life cycle costing embedded within them rather than a short term view that arguably spec build developers have (for valid economic reasons). This will lead to prioritising good, durable and sustainable design which will need to maximise opportunities for renewables whilst minimising energy consumption. Buildings will inherently be more future proof because it will be in the interest of the landlord for them to be so. This means that we all have to accept that home ownership, at least for now, may no longer be the norm for the most people. A change in the way we view the housing market in the UK is what is required and It will take time for people to come round to the idea. The stigma of renting rather than home ownership needs to be washed aside for the benefit of all. In this day and age is seems fitting to shed antiquated ideas of Englishmen and castles and let what you do and who you are be a measure of your success rather than where you live and if you own your home.
maybe there are too many politicians?
Christianity is represented in all its forms in Liverpool, and with the cities obvious historic and cultural links to Ireland and Catholicism perhaps no city in the UK could claim to be any more Christian. However, is the use of such a powerful symbol suitable in anything other than a place of worship. It seems to me that the architect here just intends to shock and cause debate for the sake of it – which is of course fine – but ultimately the building is a commercial venture, not one of religion. There is nothing wrong with making money or some people having more than others, but the use of such a powerful symbol being associated with commerce is careless to say the least. If such a scheme achieved planning consent it would be a failure of the planning system and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the importance of symbolism in architecture and when it is appropriate to reference such symbols.
Comment on: Competitions: Editor's Pick, 04.10.12
Following an afternoon of about turns, sharp lefts and then 180 rotations by the organisers of the Fort Albert competition (as well as their publication of all the names of those who were set to submit entries), isn't it about time that some kind of framework for competitions was set up. Just thinking out loud, but surely the RIBA should be the body through which competitions are organised and they should organise them to absolutely minimise the completely unnecessary time wasting and abortive work which is costing the profession £100,000's and many lost evenings and weekends for very little (if any) net return. I would suggest that in most cases the only consultants that really make a profit from competitions are those that organise them and they are incentivised to retrieve as much free work and intellectual property from as many architects as possible. What other profession tolerates this on such a scale, hard times or otherwise?
I still think our green roofed bus shelter/pocket parks for insects flora and fauna idea is better...http://www.one-worlddesign.co.uk/2012/09/25/high-line-competition/ Though I might be biased…
It is possible that in 4 years the UK will only be made up of 3 countries. With the planned vote north of the border, who is in line to design the Scottish Pavilion? This fractious issue in itself gives a clue as to one possible sub text to any UK pavilion.
Comment on: Wolf Prix attacks Chipperfield's Venice Biennale
What is the point of the biennale? If it is an excuse to sup kir royal whilst making architects feel like a valued part of the wider art world then fine, it can be an arty Italian version of MIPIM. However, Architecture is inherently political and architects are generally well informed fully signed up members of society so why doesn’t it serve a bigger function, giving a platform for the important and controversial debates. I am inclined to agree with Wolf Prix.
This notice was published on the 22nd, the deadline was on the 24th and it is being read after a bank holiday weekend on the 28th. Great
Comment on: London property prices soar
London’s population is set to increase by a further 1 million people over the next 20 years. With rates of house building in the capital at historic lows and 350,000 families on the social housing waiting list we need to build new sustainable homes quickly to avoid a housing crisis of biblical proportions. This means building up (more tall buildings) or building out (taking a mile off the Green Belt around London would release around 24,000 hectares) – who in a position of authority is brave enough to let us get started?
Comment on: Revealed: first pictures of Zaha Hadid boat
I overheard a conversation on a bus yesterday. Two ladies were discussing flower arrangements for an upcoming wedding. One noted to other that ‘the boutique flower store charged 4 times as much as the guy’s at on the high street’. The other said, ‘umm, they are wrapped nicely though'. Her friend replied, 'as soon as you put them in a vase they are the same as the other, and they don’t last any longer so what’s the point’. Sadly, it’s all about the packaging I thought to myself.
Comment on: Hadrian’s Wall visitor centre contest opens
We would love to have a crack at this one but sadly I agree with Andrew (above) - where are the RIBA on this issue? Are they in conversation with the government on the economics of procurement? Perhaps there should be an OJEU light for professional services on construction projects of less than £1m?
How disappointing. Oh what could have been, the context, height, visibility – a landmark, a vision of the future… the possibilities. Instead a snapshot of an American past bookending what looks like a Kuala Lumpur Hospital. It is clear that size isn’t everything.
What does the RIBA president do?
Although Gabrielle's actions were well intended, surely it falls within the remit of the RIBA to promote both what architects can do and how architecture as a profession contributes to wider society. Perhaps the RIBA is too glitzy? Too standoffish, a tad aloof, perhaps, as a profession, dare I say it, we have become arrogant- or are at least perceived to be? Perhaps we are all guilty of pandering to the tastes and fashions of the prosperous - representing architecture as an exclusive highbrow luxury commodity rather than as the development of practical, economic, considered solutions for the many.
These are dangerous times for all architects, male or female. There is a real risk that the roles we meld to create our profession will be swept up by other, more hungry and cost effective, professions. We have arguably lost the Project Management role, the Contract Administration role and seem to be allowing Mechanical and Electrical Engineers to take the lead on sustainable design without even as much as a whimper. Small residential schemes are being 'designed' by contractors, often as permitted development and large residential master plans for speculative developers are being planned by chartered surveyors to gain outline planning. We know what we as architects can bring to the table, but in such economically challenging times as these, there is an increasing likelihood that others will forget. After the RIBA and ARB have finished their squabbling will there be much of a profession left? Personally, for the sake of my 10 week old daughter's future, I hope so.
Comment on: A Chelsea stadium in Battersea Power Station is the best idea yet. Don’t listen to Lister
In the hope that LB Wandsworth or the directors of St George or even Boris Johnson read the AJ and at the risk of being boring we would reiterate this point - the best use for Battersea Power Station is as a power station. With a huge area of south facing roof, 4 vast wind swept chimneys, a vast volume open to solar gain and its immediate proximity to a tidal river with a 7m tidal difference there must be viable options for a mixed mode approach to sustainable energy production on an industrial scale. The UK has made a large commitment to meeting renewable energy targets, why not have a real working power station that could supply energy to the Nine Elms development and act as a showcase in the heart of London. It could be managed by an Energy Company for profit, house a swimming pool and/or an 'Eden project like' botanical gardens growing fruits etc. utilising any excess heat gain. It would become a visitor attraction in it own right and demonstrate at a national and international level that the UK is serious about renewables.
Comment on: Alone in Riverside One
Several PhD's could be written about this issue as it is such a complex mix of politics, economics and science. However one simple fact remains. Recession and CfSH aside, human habitation on this planet in its current form is not sustainable. just think about the implications of that for a second. The unfolding drama in one of nothing less than than the survival of our species and the world in which we live. The Architects may only have a bit part in this but now is a crucial time to be playing that part in full. We need to fully back prompt upgrades to the building regulations to a minimum equivelent of Code 5 for all housing now and Code 6 by 2016. Let's do our bit to get on with the task in hand and not give developers any amunition to bully local authorities in accepting below par developments. Gone are the days where developers can claim to be providing sustainable housing by meeting Code 3 and we should, through the RIBA, ARB, and other bodies make sure this is understood. Practical, considered sustainable development is a minimum standard now not somthing that is an optional extra.
much more sensible. look forward to seeing a Pink Floyd reunion gig there adorned with an inflatable pig.
How about demolishing the Palace of Westminster - we could squeeze at least 500 riverside apartments on that site.
Comment on: Grandstanding at Battersea
Fundamentally, the key issue in regard to the selection of a site for a sports stadia with a capacity 60,000 is its connection to suitable public transport. Battersea Power Station does not have a suitable connection nearby. The extended Northern Line does not serve fans coming from Chelsea’s heartland. What is needed is a location close to an existing transport hub, say Clapham Junction – perhaps as part of a masterplan to regenerate/rebuild the Winstanley Estate. Combined with our proposals for a new footbridge between Imperial Wharf and Battersea this approach would starts to make some sense.
The KSS proposal opens up the riverfront walkway which as a local is great. Perhaps there is an oppurtunity to brighten up some of the grey cladding? As a Fulham fan we dont often need more grey in our lives. In fact a view to the river to watch the boat race from the stand could come as a welcome relief.
This saga is getting ridiculous! Has it not occurred to anyone that the best use for Battersea Power Station is as a power station. With a huge area of south facing roof, 4 vast wind swept chimneys, a vast volume open to solar gain and its immediate proximity to a tidal river with a 8m tidal difference there must be viable options for a mixed mode approach to sustainable energy production.