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Help is at hand

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For the past four years, writes Richard Frewer, at the instigation of the Steel Construction Institute and British Steel (now Corus), I have chaired the Steel Sector's New Architecture Committee. We have reviewed and contributed anew to a whole range of activities and initiatives to increase the architectural profession's familiarity with, understanding of and confidence in the use of steel.

It has been a good time to be involved as Corus has been receptive to our ideas, and the projects built to celebrate the new millennium have shown the elegance and continuing potential of steel in architecture.

Despite this encouraging picture, how often does the architect sit in front of an early scheme drawing embarrassed about their own ignorance of very basic facts of materials, techniques and processes? The need for easily digestible information which is readily available is self-evident and the work of the committee has largely focused on providing both practitioners and students with documents that fulfil these requirements.

The Studio Guide is just such a document. It was originally designed for use by students but I have always argued that, in terms of learning material, there is no clear distinction to be made between the needs of the student and practitioner.

A copy of the first edition of the guide has been enclosed with this issue of the AJ. A second larger edition is now being written, primarily for an electronic format, and this will be available in about 18 months time. If you have any suggestions for its improvement in the new edition, please contact either Dr Alex Amato at SCI (01344 623345) or Matthew Teague (020 7975 8457) at the Corus Construction Centre.

After nine years as Professor of Architecture at the University of Bath, I have moved to take up the post of chair professor of architecture at the University of Hong Kong. The scale of building there is of a different order to most of the operations in Europe but the need for a review of assembly techniques and energy strategies is even more urgent. It appears that the key construction professionals in Hong Kong are determined to face that challenge. I intend that my department will play its part in encouraging that change.

Richard Frewer is a former chair of the Steel Sector Architecture

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