Category Archives: futures

changing construction trend alert

Todays Trend alert from Shaping Tomorrow focuses on Changing Construction
Pre-fabricated Buildings
Author: Sheila Moorcroft
Could the announcement that a large part of the 2012 London Olympic Stadium may be deconstructed and sent off to Chicago for the 2016 Olympics trigger renewed interest in offsite, pre-fabricated construction techniques? Possibly yes; but a lot of regulation will need to change.

wikitecture wins international open source competition

A web2 collaborative project I have been following through second life and wiki architecture has been the open source architecture design competition via Open Architecture Network.

Delighted then to receive the following good news alert from Ryan at Wikitecture:


Wikitecture Wins International Competition: 3D-Wiki Used to Compose an Open-Source Entry

Chicago, IL, June 09, 2008 – Out of 566 registered entries from 57 countries, Studio Wikitecture won the overall ‘Founder’s Award’ for their open-source entry to a competition hosted by Architecture for Humanity on the Open Architecture Network. In keeping with the collaborative spirit of the Open Architecture Network, their entry for a tele-medicine facility in Western Nepal was chosen “for embracing a truly collaborative way of working using online crowdsourcing and Second Life as a way to create a highly participatory design approach.” Source


Having conducted a number of experiments over the last year into the feasibility of applying an open-source paradigm to the practice of architecture, the Studio Wikitecture group developed a 3D-Wiki plug-in on the virtual reality platform, Second Life, that they used to help build consensus among the numerous contributors in this open-source project.

The ‘Wiki-Tree’ as it was called, acted as a version tracking system that worked very much like a conventional Wiki, but instead of tracking text documents in a linear history as you see in Wikipedia, the ‘Wiki-Tree’ tracked versions of 3-dimensional models and saved them within a continually evolving 3-dimensional digital tree ‘canopy’. Similar to Wikipedia, this 3D-Wiki allowed this loose, self-organized group of contributors to share ideas, edit the contributions of others, and vote on which design iterations should be considered for further refinement.

Over and above the actual building design, Studio Wikitecture’s entry proposed that the wiki-tree and virtual model live on pass the competition and be used to help incorporate feedback from the Nepalese community and end-users into evolving design.

In addition, they proposed that the virtual platform would allow individuals from around the world to experience the local site and conditions as the project evolves over time, further expanding the outreach, awareness and support for this project to a global audience.

The winning entry was the result of Studio Wikitecture’s 3rd Wikitecture experiment to explore the procedures and protocols necessary to practice a more open and distributed approach to architectural design. Of those, the group explored prediction market voting procedures to assure consensus or ‘Crowd Wisdom’, as well as developed a contribution assessment system to divvy up fair ownership among all the contributors.

The Final Competition Boards: http://flickr.com/photos/studiowikitecture/sets/72157604038184909/show/

A time-lapse video of the evolving design:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=amCi90zH3VI

A video illustrating how the ‘Wiki-Tree’ works:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Z3eWKIJxzyc

A journal article outlining, in detail, the three Wikitecture experiments:

http://crescendodesign.com/103_chase.pdf

The accompanying website:

http://studiowikitecture.com/ (click on ‘go’ twice to enter anonymously)

The Blog:
http://studiowikitecture.wordpress.com/

smart building technology through second life

Oliver Goh, Business Development Manager, Implenia presented through second life on the topic of smart building management through second life.

Controlling buildings through virtual worlds – no investment required by the client or customer, Implemia use second life as a cost effective approach to managing their buildings on behalf of their customers

This has been written up previously within The Grid Works

isite in second life

To enable the second life discussions around isite themes of built environment sustainability, isite now has a new meeting facility within second life courtesy of the Public Works Island.

In addition to adhoc discussions with second life friends from around the world, it is planned to hold structured, but still informal events, exchanging ideas and approaches to sustainability in its very widest sense.

Join us in second life – we are here

To join Second Life through the Public Works Group

ecological cities

Now the Eco City World Summit 2008 has concluded there is a rich source of live blog reports, reviews and videos over at the Eco City blog.   Go view and mine the collective source of global views on the future of cities

If you take away one thing from the summit : the ecological city message is summed up in the BBC Interview on the World service with Richard Register.

Other recommendations:

worldchanging ecocity highlights

Holly Pearson live blogged:  An incredible assemblage of the world’s brightest minds that are working to build greener cities and towns gathered for three and a half days of presentations, discussions, city tours, arts & culture, and celebration. As an urban planner for whom the sustainable cities movement is not only a passion but also a raison d’etre, professionally speaking, I found the conference to be nothing short of mind-blowing.

A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil

documentary focusing on innovations in transportation, recycling, social benefits including affordable housing, seasonal parks, and the processes that transformed Curitiba into one of the most livable cities in the world.

Brent Toderian – City of Vancouver’s Director of City Planning,  many projects related to the 2010 Winter Olympics, and visioning/CityPlans, including the new “EcoDensity” – the most livable city in the world, removing car facilities from the city, through a travel plan than favours walking.

Jaime Lerner Key Note

time for built environment transition?

We may now have a handbook for sustainability change in our sector.

When facilitating sessions on sustainability in the built environment, I often get delegates to ‘stand in the future’, 2030 is always a good date, imagine what buildings and our use of them would be like, and try to identify what messages they would send back to today. Often they talk of well insulated, 100% sealed construction, 100% renewable energy (which often drives the car), bright, vibrant, natural light and ventilated environments, and more in touch with the natural environemnt. They talk of more team work, long established supply chains from the local area and more use of natural material.

Interesting they very rarely describe the current approaches of today – ie Eco-Home, Code 6 or Passiv House, BREEAM or whatever. (Maybe through current lack of real understanding what these concepts are). What they describe, unwittingly perhaps is a post oil built environment, even a post carbon (ie post carbon being a driver or worry)

Rob Hopkins, architect of the Transition Movement, in his excellent book The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience takes a similar approach, also using 2030 – but sees the Passiv Haus as being the home of the future, (for our sector he predicts; in 2014 the Passiv Haus model became the standard for all new domsestic construction across the UK, 80% of materials are locally sourced, an explosion of local industry for clay and cob blocks and in 2017 the government initiated the Great Reskilling of construction workers) . In this, the central chapter, A Vision for 2030, looking back over the transition, Rob paints a picture of construction, of energy (UK nearly self reliant, based on the 2010 crash programme of 50% reduction in use and a 50% renewable scale up), of transport, education and the economy.

Central to the book are the themes of post oil and reslience (resilience being the ability of a system to continue functioning in the face of any change or shocks from outside). Littered with well placed quotations, tools for community engagement and learning, templates to use and a history of transition, it is in essence the guide to tranistion movement, but far more than that. I can see this aspirational book one I will read more than once, to dip into and to learn a lot from. Divided into the head (for the ideas) the heart (for passion) and the hands – (for action), it could be seen to be the activists handbook for community based societies and enterprises.

There is a sense of the tipping point concept running throughout the book – given enough direction and empowerment, communities and people will tip the swing towards sustainable environments. Here perhaps is one key to the future – one of communialism rather than the approach of accommadationism we are taking tat the moment.

If any feeling of ‘concern’ exists on reading the book, it is in the tools. Focused at social and communtiy enterprise thinking people they work exceedingly well. To engage main stream built environment companies into the post oil and tranistion concept, a new set of tools maybe required – sharper and aimed at business survial and resilience

The closing chapter is aspirational – Closing Thoughts – “Something about the profoundly cahllenging times we live in strikes me as being tremondously exciting” Rob writes. and closes with a quote from Camus, In the depth of winter I finally realised there was in me an invincible summer

A quick scan of reviews for this book indicate its potential importance: for example:

The newly published ‘Transition Handbook’ is so important that I am tempted just to confine this review to five simple words ‘You must read this book!’ But to do so would, of course, completely fail to communicate its message which is, I believe, so profound and inspiring that I want to do my very best to encourage its spread far and wide.

Wherever you are on the sustainable journey … Transition Handbook will be of assistance. It is on the one hand a very worrying read, on the other inspirational. Through out I kept asking myself is our design, construction and FM sector ‘resilient’?

Maybe it is time for the built environment sector to take on and learn from the transition movement, to reach the tipping point for change. It is encouraging to see Rob Hopkins is talking at the Think 08 event in May. Will this be the catalyst I wonder?

More information and discussion over at the Transition Culture web blog.

wanted … eco home builder

I have for a while now been exploring Second Life’s contribution to the built environment – on themes of collaboration, education and usability.

One of these ideas is to create a UK Level 6 Eco Home within second life to use as an educational device. A meeting a month or so ago with Pam Broviak (Public Works Director for the City of LaSalle, Illinois) has led to a collaborative project forming an International Eco-Code Park within Second Life. The Public Work island already contains a US Code House, demonstrating how such virtual builds can be used effectively.

Read more over on Pam’s Public Works blog

The island also contains a brilliant bridge tour built by TEEX enabling you to view all risks and hazards of concrete bridge construction. Read a review in the latest, hot of the press, copy of GridWorks

So a plot of land has been cleared, signs put in place, across the street from the US Code House to build a UK level 6 eco home. Perhaps a Dunster (level 7) home or Hanham Hall home? (Location on Public Works)

We are now seeking support from designers and SL builders to help on this exciting project. If you are a SL builder, educator or would like to fund and support this project please do get in touch. (or IM Brand Woodin or Pam Renoir from within Second Life)

When complete, or indeed even in construction, the international eco-code park will enable educational tours and visits from colleges and universities, on site workshops and discussions along with the show casing of real world eco solutions and material. It is even anticipated the homes could be used to give building code assessors more awareness and depth to training – as the existing TEEX bridge and Code house do already.

If you do not have a Second Life – join up through our dedicated Public Work registration site – you will arrive in Second Life at the Public Works Island and meet other built environment professionals there who will assist with any questions.  We look forward to seeing you there.

sustainable connectivity

A new look for isite with a new image on the top banner(*). I like this design as it includes a RSS button – to get isite delivered to your desktop, and a search facility to search back through isite items.

But a little more too. After reflection on this blogs contents and direction, I have slightly amended the purpose of isite.

Yes it will continue to be a news views and comments blog for the built environment, poking here and there when things dont seem quite right or dubious, or indeed covered with greenwash. It will continue to be a voice to the online world for the Lancashire Best Practice Construction Club and to a lesser degree the CKE, and will continue to focus on collaborative working, integrated working, facilities management, futures and improvement towards excellence. The emerging web2.0 or even 3.0, and I include second life here, is an important theme that links and enables allot of what we, what I do, so will remain a key element of the posts and comments.

isite is also of course the outlet to the world for my business – fairsnape.  (the name was taken from the local hill in the Forest of Bowland visible from my base here)

However, more importantly I see isite starting to look at connectivity with the natural environment. A number of activities I have been involved with lately has made me realise we may be where we are today because we have lost, and struggling to regain connectivity with our impact on ecology in its widest sense.

What does this mean? – Ecological footprints more than carbon footprints – as John Muir said when we tug on a single thing in nature we find it attached to everything else . – natural materials rather than harmful – renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, community based FM rather than endless target driven fm, about responsible sourcing rather than supply chain bullying, all putting a new direction to CSR.

I have long used the triptych of fit for people purpose and planet (before it became enshrined into the triple bottom line concept I like to think) . It is what Patrick Geddes would call folk, work and place, nearly a century ago, and reading Satish Kumar over the weekend – he described our modern trinity as needing soil, soul and society. Soil for the environment. soul for a spiritual dimension and society for justice.

Kumar a great walker – now based at the Schumacher college in Dartmoor, that incidentally run courses on Zen and Construction, talks about never trusting ideas that you never worked through whilst walking. “when you walk you are connected with nature, when in a car or a building your are disconnected, you walk to connect yourself”.

A while ago I started a benchmark walking programme to do just this – getting workshops and learning sharing events out of a training room or hotel into the countryside. With a loose agenda that emerges to deal with peoples real improvement needs, benchmarkwalks allows real learning and sharing, I likened it to doing business on a golf course – but this is business improving on a walk.

So all this as a preamble to a new thread for isite – connectivity – one I hope that will give it more scope, depth and importance as we address the sustainability issues, the soil, soul and society issues facing the built environment.

(* taken at Beacon Fell, Forest of Bowland, Lancashire recently – a location for many benchmarkwalks)

… the futures nano

The science of nanotechnology is already revolutionising the worlds of medicine and construction, according to a Guardian article looking at nanotech in food, Once Bitten
Seamless tubes of graphite one atom thick and 10,000 long (to the naked eye, large quantities would look like soot), carbon nanotubes are up to 100 times stronger than steel but around eight times lighter. They can be teased into a twine that can be woven into sheets and, potentially, mixed with composites to eventually overhaul the way – and the height to which – we build.

And those buildings could be covered with solar cells made from nanomaterials that could supply all their energy needs. 

And in communications … nanotechnology would allow the Nokia Morph concept phone to be laid flat like a keyboard or folded into a bracelet that can be connected wirelessly to a headset.

And in RFID, nano-transistors could revolutionise asset management  and hence reshape the way in which facilities management works.

is the code for sustainable homes working

Building Design asks the question is the code working and carries two viewpoints. Andy von Bradsky sees it as credible tool that will evolve and allow us to lead the field in zero carbon futures, whereas Mark Brinkley sees it as a graveyard of intentions.

The article finishes with a what do you think prompt…

I couldn’t resist replying, and include my post to that page below

Code level 6 is, as I have mentioned more than once, the wrong tool for the wrong job.

Why?

It doesn’t pick up on the wider sustainable communities issues, the triple bottom line and CSR issues that contribute to sustainable homes/developments, ie the eco-home within the context of an eco-place.

More importantly it does not address the construction process as Mark illustrates, allowing business as usual for the builders, other than integrating or assembly new bits of building kit. (I was not surprised to hear that the Hanham Hall project will not be monitoring or attempting to improve the carbon footprint of the construction process)

I also question whether we (the UK) are indeed leading the field in zero carbon futures. Are we not just waiting to be led by legislation, and then complaining when its too hard, too expensive, too different ? (as illustrated by bidders pulling out of the next eco-challenge project at Peterborough). I sense elsewhere they are just getting on and doing it – because it makes good sense, commercially, for image, and for the planet.

Time for a re-think on this one. But then thats what targets are for – to learn and improve.

Postscript:

Jonathan Poritt’s view point on this is well worth a read – as he says, Continue reading