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J Hawkins

J Hawkins


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Comments (5)

  • Comment on: Grenfell Tower: residents had predicted massive fire

    J Hawkins's comment 14 June, 2017 10:20 pm

    With regard to the comment at 10.13, Sam Webb has been quoted in the Guardian:

    “A disaster waiting to happen,” is how the architect and fire expert Sam Webb describes hundreds of tower blocks across the UK, after the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington that has left at least six people dead. “We are still wrapping postwar high-rise buildings in highly flammable materials and leaving them without sprinkler systems installed, then being surprised when they burn down.”

    Webb surveyed hundreds of residential tower blocks across the country in the early 1990s and presented a damning report to the Home Office, which revealed that more than half of the buildings didn’t meet basic fire safety standards. He said: “We discovered a widespread breach of safety, but we were simply told nothing could be done because it would ‘make too many people homeless’.

    “I really don’t think the building industry understands how fire behaves in buildings and how dangerous it can be. The government’s mania for deregulation means our current safety standards just aren’t good enough.”

    Risk assessment and fire engineering factoring down the risk with the BS 9999 approach is one approach to safety. Airliners have built in 'redundancy' type systems of safety, if one system fails there is a back up.
    The BS 9999 approach contains elements of engineering; but not that much redundancy. Large tower blocks could be seen by some as being like air liners. If the logic and approach of the technical design is not built in reality; as per the specification or drawings, or there is too much hanging on one part of the engineering, then if failure occurs, life safety hazard situations may occur.
    Should external Class O PIR insulation , or any other type of insulation be mandatory as Class O where there is possibility of air and fire being drawn through external compartments on tall buildings?
    Personally, I think a bit more redundancy with things like 2 means of escape ( emergency external stairs even, as in the USA ) and a dedicated firemans lift and stair would help people sleep more easily in their beds; I would not think that this was an 'over reaction' that would put developers out of business in the residential sector given property values?
    This is as much a philosophical view than a more mechanistic one based on evacuation calculations, discounting floor occupancy populations, and the like for alternate means of escape.
    I am sure this discussion will continue, brought about by a tragic situation which should be resolved sensibly, going for conflict resolution rather than the opposite.

  • Comment on: The coach: ‘How do I manage a tricky colleague?’

    J Hawkins's comment 6 June, 2017 12:05 pm

    Another good way to give feedback to strong-minded people is to report the affect on others. So, to take a simple example, if you have a colleague who others say is too noisy, instead of saying ‘others have complained that you talk too loudly’ (immediately confrontational and opening up the discussion of ‘who’?), you could frame this same issue more obliquely: ‘It is great you are such a spirited person, many people love having your strong character in the office. However, you’ll know others aren’t nearly as outgoing as you, and I imagine they might find it harder to assert themselves. You’ll recognise we are all different, and this office benefits from all types of character. So it would be great if you could have a thought to them when you are in the open-plan space as they may not need or want to hear you.’

    What if the 'strong minded' are the one(s) in charge? Definitely time to move on; after speaking your mind in the most kind and concise manner before the inevitable departure to 'pastures sane'...Possibly abroad, to more mature cultures beyond the more internecine UK work environment?

    Where is the hinted at and fabled pluralism in the workplace suggested in this piece, beyond the UK perhaps?

    What does the 'spirited' word precisely mean? A form of 'possession'? It is more redolent of 17th century theism rather than the 21st, for us currently unfashionable secular but occasionally hedonistic types, less prone to rhetorical fancy and the ascetic new modern puritanism, which some may equate with those planar modernist expanses of 'the spotless white mind' psychological interior? Too Pavlovian perhaps, for for the more cerebral and less conditioned. Never judge a book by its cover; even if the publishers have spent thousands designing it, hoping for conditioned responses?

    They have come to take me away ha ha...

    A sense of humour is often the thing that helps in most work situations, but due to current economic restraints is now no laughing matter...?

  • Comment on: Google submits plans for Heatherwick and BIG’s £600m HQ at King’s Cross

    J Hawkins's comment 5 June, 2017 12:24 pm

    What 'glare free' and 'non veiling reflection' winter sunlight gains admittance on the south facing elevations due to the apparent vertical rather than the normal horizontal solar screening elements? The 'BIG' website likes employees on their CV page to have LEEDS accreditation.

    A solar tracking video would reveal whether K glass would be a waste of expenditure on the southern end...As for the large elevational extent of glass cladding...have things moved on from the Farnsworth House, designed in 1945 in designs for those abiding in the northern temperate zone?
    Anymore 'Passiv' than Mies Van Der Rohe in 1945, apart from the 'timber clad' appearance? Answers welcomed.

    Apart from all that CO2 related stuff, the office workstations do convey a sense of place due to idiosyncracy. Thanks to Google I could check the date of the Farnsworth House. Perhaps building design by algorithm will be next?
    Someone is bound to have tried. Again, answers are welcome.

  • Comment on: ‘The worst building in the world awards’

    J Hawkins's comment 18 March, 2017 1:35 am

    Long life, loose fit is always balanced against bespoke solutions answering the aesthetic and functional requirements for building user 1 on day 1.
    It has to be said that environmental psychology and cognitive mapping are subjects foreign to most brief development in these austere times.
    Firmness, commodity and communication?

  • Comment on: Zero-carbon homes set to be reintroduced

    J Hawkins's comment 26 May, 2016 7:04 pm

    From Building magazine 21 July 2015:

    'Architects are among more than 200 business from across the construction and renewable energy industries that have urged chancellor George Osborne to reconsider his scrapping of the zero carbon homes target.

    In an open letter to the chancellor organised by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), senior leaders from 246 organisations warned that the policy u-turn has “undermined industry confidence in government” and will “curtail investment in British innovation and manufacturing”.

    One of the signatories was Clare Murray, who now gives her revised view above moving to 'as-built compliance methodologies'. Part of any methodology would be the fabric of the building? Its thermal mass characteristics; etc as modelled in the SAP. In practice we will be waiting until 2020 until the EU Directive comes into play (or not, for the UK.) There is also the Bonfield review which is supposed to publish its report around now.
    There is a reported announcement from Angela Leadsom in Building magazine today that 'zero carbon homes' are to be scrapped.

    I would think that most 'in the industry' would like to know if they should just stick with the 2013 part L1A Building Regs until possibly 2020; when all will be revealed on a kWh/m2/year target basis ? The more the target keeps moving the more consultants are employed?
    Sorry this comment was so long and detailed...

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