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Martin Cook

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Comments (32)

  • Comment on: Five things architects can do tomorrow to limit climate change

    Martin Cook's comment 17 March, 2019 9:55 pm

    Some sensible ideas here and I must say that I agree with John—Fabric First. See his zero carbon retrofit house in 'The Zero Carbon House' (2011) M.G.Cook. But if only it was up to architects...the 2015 legislation was kicked down the road until 2025. Further lost decades on this issue are not feasible.

    Post occupancy evaluation is imperative (See the Design Quality Method (DQM)) and BIM has the capacity for accurate metrics, unlike tick box eco-points schemes. As Prof Al Bartlett said, calling yourself sustainable does not make it so, and he also noted that extinction is forever.

    'Sustainable energy without the hot air' (2009) by the late, great David Mackay is by far the best source for a scientifically quantified analysis of the energy usage problems and potential solutions. He purposefully set out to analyse and accurately quantify energy use across the board, because he was sick of adjectives such as ‘huge’ and ‘massive’ being applied the potential of renewable energy, for example. A free digital version of the book is available from www.withoutthehotair.com as well as a ten-page digital synopsis. Mackay, unsurprisingly, recommends ‘lifestyle change’ among this ‘first three strategies to reduce energy demand’. A paperback version of the book is available from Amazon etc for about £20. David Mackay’s analysis is simply the best out there, and he was appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to DECC for several years before his tragically early death. I had the pleasure of attending one of his lectures and meeting him when he visited BRE.

  • Comment on: Grenfell survivors left ‘in limbo’ as police say no charges until 2021

    Martin Cook's comment 9 March, 2019 5:13 pm

    Using Hillsborough as a relevant precedent should mean that Grenfell will take decades...these were both systemic failures, which spreads potential accountability very wide. The Poulson Affair might also be another useful precedent, from the mid-seventies. The architect and criminal, John Garlick Llewelyn Poulson L/FRIBA was eventually jailed for seven years for corruption, along with a number of politicians. Poulson felt that he was a scapegoat and ‘more sinned against than sinning’. He wrote his side of the story in a book called ‘The Price’, but the publication was suppressed and banned.

  • Comment on: ‘Wonky’ home cinema court case ‘warning to all architects’

    Martin Cook's comment 8 March, 2019 7:59 am

    I wouldn’t appeal that, he is bang to rights. £35 per hour?! I hope he kept a time sheet...that is about half the rate of a plumber and one tenth of the rate of a junior barrister called a decade ago. Think of a number put a nought on the end.

  • Comment on: Don’t take the rap for things you have no control over

    Martin Cook's comment 7 March, 2019 6:36 pm

    In terms of working without reward, we could start by boycotting architectural competitions, as they are exploitative. As I haven’t seen any barristers’ competitions for the best skeleton argument, I assume that we are the only profession that values our expertise so lightly that we give it away for free.

  • Comment on: Why architects need to wake up to the carbon emergency

    Martin Cook's comment 1 March, 2019 11:30 pm

    Gordon Gibb’s cogent and apt contribution outlines the contextual issues that have marginalised the architectural profession for the last half-century. Possibly summarised in the toxic trinity of neoliberalism, deregulation and privatisation. Ironically, the problem of energy profligacy was focused by the oil price crisis of the mid-seventies, and then the opportunity for improvement was largely wasted, in the intervening decades.

    Far from being asleep to the carbon emergency, those of us who have engaged with this issue on a serious level for the last four decades have been forced to live a waking nightmare, for to the reasons that Gordon outlines above. When our efforts are described as ‘green crap’ and new zero carbon homes legislation is pulled at the last minute, we have to wake up to the fact that the political and commercial will is simply not, nor ever will be, with us. Instead we get asinine policies such as austerity and help-to-buy. Nice one Persimmon and the other volume housebuilders.

    While it is encouraging to see WLC issues finally making the headlines, it is only when buildings are extremely energy efficient that embodied energy becomes a significant factor. Walk before you run. Subjective, tick-box labelling schemes are part of the problem rather than the solution and don’t take WLC impacts into account. As the late, great Professor Al Bartlett said in his masterwork ‘The power of the exponential! For the future of our planet’ calling something sustainable does not make it so. He also said that ‘extinction is forever’.

    To quote a proverb of the Cree Nation ‘When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money’.

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