About EChlo

I am passionate about the sustainable future of our built environment and i hope to use this blog to develop my knowledge in order to develop the way we live work and play to be more efficient and at one with the natural environment.

A spoon, is a spoon…or is it a spoon?

 

My first project for my professional design studio module was to design a wooden spoon in three weeks, and here is what i produced

final design page 1 final design page 2 final design page 3

Nature is speaking

Conservation International have done a series of short films from the view point of different aspects of nature, featuring some very famous actors and some beautiful footage.

They are brilliant, some are quirky, others hard hitting but the message is the same…

Humans need nature, nature does not need humans

Harrison Ford as The Ocean is my favourite one, it is so powerful and ominous..:

 

Heres a link to the web page where you can see 7 other videos, plus lots of other interesting stuff. You can also join their campaign: http://natureisspeaking.org/home.html#Films

Nature Is Speaking

Social sustainability- TRUST can save us all!

Social sustainability is derived from basic human needs, and therefore the ability for humans to live happy and fulfilled lives these five basic needs or principles should not be compromised.

1-Integrity

– The ability to not physically mentally or emotionally harm others on an individual scale-Human rights

2-Impartiality 

– The ability to be equal. Treat others as you wish to be treated.

2-Meaning

– The ability to have a purpose and create meaning in one’s life and others lives.

4-Competence

– The ability to excel, to be good at something and be educated and encouraged in order to achieve success at what ever level.

5-Influence

– The ability to shape a social system, to have ones voice heard and to vote. etc.

 

But ultimately TRUST is the over arching factor in a future sustainable society, with trust, greed, corruption, violence, inequality all disappear.

 

Below is a link it an excellent heart-felt video about all the wrong in the world and how people with love and trust can help stitch back together the pieces of our broken society.

It’s really worth a watch:

MSc Sustainability, Entrepreneurship and Design. Class of 2014/15 Bios

I have recently started my masters course at Brunel University London, studying MSc Sustainability, Entrepreneurship and Design.

I am super happy with the first two weeks of the course, its exactly what i want to be doing (ill explain in another post). But what makes it even better is that i am sharing this experience with 16 other amazing, like minded people and i just wanted to share our personal bios with you all in the link below!

Bio link: SusED-2015 (1)

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Literature Review: Defining sustainability in architecture

As in every sustainable document, defining the term sustainability is paramount and therefore it becomes clear that the architect must understand sustainable concepts before they can practice. Consequently defining sustainability could be considered a vital part to developing green design principles in order to provide clarity and scope for sustainable architecture and to bring about a collective understanding that architecture can be both attractive, inspiring and efficient and environmentally friendly.

 

Many terms are used to describe the similar notion of sustainability, such as green, environmentally friendly and holistic, but their foundations lie in sustaining the world we live in for future generations. The most common definition in the literature is The Brundtland commission who define sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future” (1987, as cited in Appleby 2011). The Brundtland is a broad definition of the aims of sustainable design and is hard to apply to architecture. Hosey, (2012) similarly explains that sustainable design encompasses the total environment and all of its associations and therefore it works not only to preserve the natural environment but embrace the cultural environment as well. This implies that that sustainability encompasses the whole natural, social and cultural environment and is not just about reducing CO2. Similarly Yeang and Woo, (2010) believe that “the principles of sustainability can stimulate technological innovation, advance competitiveness, and improve quality of life-all desirable factors. Adding to Van der Ryn, (1996) and Meclennan, (2004) ideas that sustainable concepts expand the ideas of good design.

 

Mclennan, (2004) believes that “Sustainable design is a design philosophy that seeks to maximize the quality of the built environment, while minimizing or eliminating negative impact to the natural environment”. Rovers, (2008) add that sustainable design should maximize the well being of people. Similarly to Van Der Ryn, (1996), who states “ecological design can be defined as any form of design that minimizes environmentally destructive impacts by integrating itself with the living process”. All of which prove the misconception that Ingels, (2012) depicts, describing sustainable design as aiming to improve life quality whilst minimising environmental impact.

 

Rovers (2008) believes in an equilibrium and states that “sustainable building involves the balanced use of resources on a global scale e.g. Energy, materials, water and land” alike Yeang and Woo (2010) who describe the basic principles and concepts of sustainability as balancing a growing economy. RIBA (2011) agree using the same categories, plus life, in their proposed sustainable design strategies. Sustainable design therefore can be thought as encompassing a whole design approach in which it addresses all the needs of the current climate. As (Raymond, 2012) believes that architecture is a pervasive activity and is not just the act of designing a building to be simply energy or eco efficient. Sustainable architecture is the act of doing more with less (Schwarz, 2012).

Literature review: Assessing sustainability in architecture  

A key issue in integrating sustainable design into architecture is few perceive sustainability as a means of innovation and as a new interesting way of designing successful buildings (Van Hinte, Neelen, Vink and Vollaard, 2003). It appears that most perceive it as an expensive add on to tick government regulation boxes. Often design teams do not have a collaborative approach to design and therefore cause problems and badly resolved issues. Sustainability is often one of these issues and it is usually solved with a ground/ air source heat pump and solar panels (Mclennan, 2004). Therefore if sustainability and architecture were not perceived separately this argument would not exist and buildings today would be both beautiful and efficient. Sustainable building can be combined with modern architectural statement.

Mclennan, (2004) asks “What is sustainability other than a poorly used misunderstood word that is hindering itself with misconceptions?” Ingels, (2012) believes too that there is a common misconception about sustainability, that of how much of our current life style are we willing to sacrifice? This common misconception is ingrained into the public mind, a negative view on a positive design change. As Ingels, (2012) agrees stating that sustainability shouldn’t be a moral sacrifice or political dilemma, but similarly to Van Der Ryn, (1996) it has to be a design challenge. A challenge that architects should embrace as an exciting way to solve design issues with the environment in mind. However, “Almost every architectural and engineering firm today claims, to some extent, that it practices sustainable design or at least has done a few ‘green’ buildings, while in reality, most have little true understanding of the subject” (Mclennan, 2004, p. 2).

 

Mclennan, (2004) considers that “Most of the barriers to a sustainable future are not technological but are fear and ignorance based.” Which may stem from the misconception Ingles, (2012) depicts. Or architects may have become overwhelmed by Van der Ryn’s, (1996) concept that sustainable design is a whole new way of thinking. Mclennan, (2004) agrees saying that, “Sustainable design is expanding the definition of good design.” Explaining that sustainability looks at a wider set of factors compared to traditional design could be another reason why architects have suppressed the subject for so long (Mclennan, 2004). RIBA similarly has identified that sustainable design addresses a wider set of principles, and they are currently working on the green overlay that applies to the plan of work. It is a proposal of a design procedure that works with the current plan of work, as an overlay to make sure that at every step in the design process sustainability has been consulted (Peel 2011). Therefore the green overlay may be seen as a break through as it has established that sustainable design expands and betters traditional design and that also it should be considered throughout the whole design process by all professions involved as something that informs the design. In turn it can erase the fear of a whole new design process and make architects realise that sustainable design is an enhanced process. It might encourage architects to recognise the current environmental social and economical needs mean that architects should be designing with the environment in mind, and that it is achievable for all practices.

Literature review: The application of sustainability in Architecture, the need for change

“Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion and adoption”

(Mill, n.d as cited by Mclennan 2004).

The sustainable movement has been ridiculed by many since its emergence in the 60’s (Van Hinte, Neelen, Vink and Vollaard, 2003, p.7) and the literature suggests that it has only been in the past few decades that the discussion about sustainability in architecture has really started, and has become a popular topic during the past 5-10 years.

The purpose of this literature review is to assess the current level of sustainable concepts integrated into architecture. To determine at what stage sustainable architecture is currently at.

There is an environmental need for the building sector to develop and widely adopt the concepts of sustainability. Van der Ryn, (1996) states that we cannot design in the image of the machine anymore, an image of an energy consuming mechanical building. This implies a need for change in architectural design and calls for architects to start designing for the future. Henriques, (2012) describes that change at all levels depend on a new sustainability culture becoming commonplace. Similarly Schwarz, (2010) believes that “the sustainability revolution is in essence a revolution of culture.” However, Vaze and Tindale, (2011) argue that all public policy involves a cultural change and that often it takes something extreme and drastic that affects the public directly to implement change. Thus, the views of Vaze and Tindale (2011) can be interpreted as posing as “a very Faustian choice: whether to accept our corrosive and risky behaviour as unavoidable, or to take stock of ourselves and search for a new environmental ethic” (Wilson, as cited in Vaze and Tindale, 2011). Therefore this literature review will discuss whether architecture can influence a change in perception of sustainability in architecture and inspire people to take action, it will also address architects responsibilities in implementing sustainable concepts into architecture.

Mclennan, (2004, p.6) believes that sustainable design implies “responsibility and a far-reaching respect for natural systems and resources, respect for people and for the cycle of life” and therefore implies that architects who impact directly upon the landscape have a responsibility to make sure their work responds delicately to the environment. As Wilson and Bryant, (1997) similarly state, architects decisions directly impact upon the environment on which other people depend. Architecture influences our every day lives; it impacts and controls everything we do.

Consequently Design therefore may be a powerful tool that could be used to influence a cultural change and help the drive toward a sustainable Britain. As McDonough, (2007) states, “Design is the first signal of human intention.” Likewise Van Der Ryn, (1996) states that the environmental crisis is a design crisis and it is the design process that needs to be tackled before true adoption and understanding of sustainability can arise. “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us” (Winston Churchill as cited in Kats 2010). Butters, (2008) agrees, In assuming that the problem has to do with resistance to change, he states that architects have the ability through design to implement social change. However, Raymond, (2012) points out that design itself cannot provide the solution but never the less can be a force for change.

The need to raise awareness and popularity about sustainability now may be greater than true sustainable design, because for acceptance; Pelsmakers, (2012) believes that architects need to be inspired by successful sustainable design. Architects solve problems creatively (RIBA, 2011) and the efficiency of architecture is a problem that can also be solved creatively. Successful projects that achieve efficiency creatively, that maximize life quality and minimize environmental impact may lead to an increase in popularity, and therefore could lead to acceptance of sustainable concepts on a larger scale. (Hosey, 2012) agrees long term value is impossible without sensory appeal, because if design doesn’t inspire, it is destined to be discarded.

However Hosey, (2012) argues that sustainability, through its emphasis on efficiency has lost emphasis on aesthetic. Hosey, (2012) states that because sustainable architecture has focused on environmental impact and not aesthetics, we are left with numerous unattractive sustainable buildings, which in turn does not lead to public popularity. Hosey writes, “Originally, the concept of sustainability promised to broaden the purpose of contemporary design, specifically by adding ethics to aesthetics, but instead it has virtually replaced aesthetics with ethics by providing clear and compelling standards for one and not the other.” Hosey, (2012) points out that beauty should be a fundamental component of sustainability and that an ugly building is more likely to be torn down and replaced, he states that “something that does not last is by definition unsustainable” (Hosey, 2012). Attractiveness is not considered essential to sustainable design (Hosey, 2012). In addition Hosey, (2012) states, “Aesthetic attraction is not a superficial concern- it is an environmental imperative. Beauty could save the planet.” Realising the importance of aesthetic in sustainable architecture is key in the successful implementation of sustainable concepts in architecture. Hosey, (2012) asks, “can we be as smart about how things look as we are about how they work?”

There is a contradictory argument of attractive design vs. efficient design in sustainable architecture, as beautiful form can develop from ultimate efficiency. Nature, for example, can be used as a precedent with the most beautiful forms that are definitively the way they are due to efficiency, use and habitat; very similar to architectural design: use, users, context, and form. Nature can be thought of as the most beautiful and sustainable design that provides all its own needs through natural form. Hosey, (2012) agrees saying, “If sustainable design is intended to act like nature, it should knock your socks off.” Nevertheless in understanding form and sustainability architects can design buildings that are efficient, environmentally friendly and beautiful. Understanding form creates beauty and efficiency, of which both are critical to sustainable architecture.

Beautiful iconic buildings by famous architects inspire the profession and the public, so there is potential for beautiful sustainable buildings that focus on the design as a whole, with in-depth thought on aesthetics combined with efficiency to do the same. The environment opens a door for architects to be creative in a new manor not form follows function but form can create efficiency. If sustainable concepts were applied creatively it can in fact increase beauty and formal elegance within a project rather than hinder architectural quality (Hosey, 2012). Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder, and Alter, (2012) describes beauty as design that moves the head and the heart; which coincides with Pelsmakers, (2012) idea that inspiration can inform change.

RIBA appear positive about a transition and too believe sustainable design can enhance creativity in design. However, as a representative body of architects their beliefs appear to not transcend to the wider body of practices or in education (Mclennan, 2004). RIBA recognize that the architect’s role in the sustainable design of buildings is an extremely important one. As Brady, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) president (as cited in Sullivan, 2012), states, “as architects we know that good design improves our quality of life, in all areas of work rest and play and impacts on our health. Our work as professionals seeks to create a healthy built environment, which enhances the natural environment, society and our economy.” Similarly implied by Sullivan, (2012) and Raymond, (2012) that the architect’s role should in fact be sustainable by definition as “The role of an architect is to respond to environmental social and economical needs”. Which corresponds with the three principles of sustainability (Raymond 2012). Sustainable design falls within all aspects of the architect’s role yet it still seems to be over looked. Van Der Ryn (1996) claims that sustainability was the mantra of the 90’s, and for many architects and designers it continues to be a mantra to this day. Almost everyone can be considered aware of the need for sustainability, and it appears most are now beginning to incorporate sustainability into their lives and profession, but to what extent is subject for debate.

Ecotricity, the rise of the electric car.

Today on my nice 1.2 mile leisurely walk to work, i saw for the first time the Tesla model S, I was lucky enough to spot it and then catch up with it at a red light where i had a nice nose, and my god is it beautiful!

01-2012-tesla-model-s-fd-1347336745model-s-review-620a tesla_model_s_p85_2014_i3

Not only did i see the Model S, just up the road the Nissan Leaf passed me by, albeit less beautiful my morning was uplifted with thoughts that the electric car is becoming more popular and feasible for modern life.

Nissan_Leaf

I get to work (at a ‘sustainability exchange’ where you would think people would have knowledge of green transport innovation) and tell everyone about my electric experiences, but no one had even heard of Tesla, let alone the Model S, my heart dropped, but i remain positive!

The BBC have recently written an article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29034483 about the development of supercharging, enabling you to charge your battery to 80% in 20-30 minutes, thats fast enough for even the most impatient people!

I have always wanted an electric car, i seriously looked in to the buying the Renault Zoe earlier this year, but to my dismay my bank account wouldn’t stretch to not only buy the car at 16k but have an additional monthly payment for battery hire of anything between £80-£150, depending on milage.

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Theres lots of electric cars on the market, the majority of which look amazing!

One day, some day i will have an electric car! =]