It’s a travesty to expect leaseholders to foot the bill for past failings of the building standards. The government(s) need to take stock of the regulations and pro-actively set out required measures to ensure the well-being of the public. Rather than reactively changing legislation after disasters. A clear understanding of what has caused these historic failures needs to be had. Scapegoating timber, when it was in fact the foam insulation and a lack of fire breaks that caused Grenfell, is wrong—and frankly conjecture from the problem at hand. Granted timber cladding that has not been treated with a fire protective coating can be a risk on high rise buildings. But the new legislation on restrictions of height for timber framed structures is ludicrous. The evidence is there that products such as CLT and glulam—when treated with a class 0 coating or covered with fireline board—actually perform better in fires than steel and concrete. If we are to reach anywhere near carbon neutrality, these sustainable products need to be used, and the legislation needs to be based on hard evidence to not stifle these targets—whilst keeping the public safe.
Architects, engineers and scientists can only implement what legislation compels them to. As architects we are not only bound by legislation but we are at the whim of developers. And as many will testify, they will often only put money to things that are essential. Speaking as an architect based in Scotland the regulations with regards to energy is failing massively. Too much of a focus is placed on reducing the in use carbon footprint of a building with little concern about the embodied energy our buildings produce over its lifespan. It would be interesting to do a study of a traditional pre 1919 tenement block, charting the embodied energy consumption of the building during its lifetime (100 years +). Compared to a new build volume house builder effort with KW's of eco bling tagged to its roof and vast amounts of foam insulation packed between its studs, wrapped tightly in plastic. What happens to all of these building materials in 50 years or so when the building is to be demolished? The cells used in solar panels cannot be safely disposed of. The foam in the insulation cannot be recycled safely... The list goes on. The governments regulations are continually playing catch up. As a result some really important factors are being overlooked in favour of a very superficial understanding of what it is to design and build sustainably. I'm not suggesting for one minute we go back to traditional masonry construction and banish contemporary technologies. Quite the opposite. I am suggesting we, as architects and designers, take responsibility by suggesting alternative materials and forms of construction in a bid to reduce our impact on the environment as a people. Progress was made when we discovered methods of retaining heat within buildings. That progress has been negated by a fundamental misunderstanding of building physics in recent years leading to very poor internal environments in favour of reducing energy consumption.
Until the government have a serious re-think on how to build sustainably we will continue to wrap our houses in plastic and stack cells on top of our roofs whilst slowly suffocating on our own carbon dioxide.
Kahn-esque. Meditative yet grand spaces.
The taxi driver should stick to talking about traffic and not architecture.
It is interesting (ironic) to hear these comments from an architect who has worked on several high profile public projects, with astronomical contract values... Not mentioning his recent proposal for a holocaust memorial which could only be described as architectural and material indulgence with little regard for the historical context it finds itself in.
The comment about contractors being able to 'do it all' is an interesting one, and demonstrates how out of touch he has become designing his billion pound monuments. In the real world we have to work to strict budgets, often what is lost is quality of material and form. However this does not mean that good architecture cannot come out of such work. To suggest that a contractor could simply do this kind of work is absurd and goes entirely against what the architects role is--within the UK in particular when it comes to protecting the client, end user and built environments interests.
In the position he is in it is admirable (ironic) that he discusses social inequalities etc.