Archive for category Architecture

History of the Evolution of Planning in England

Planning in theory and practice

The British planning system evolved as a result of various social, economic and political events that took place in the last two centuries. Initially, town planners had the sole responsibility for making decisions about the development and redevelopment of towns and cities. It was only after the post-war period that the importance and relevance of public participation was realized and taken into consideration. This apportion of decision-making power to the public brought about a change in the role of planners in society, from being sole controllers to advocates. Planning theories were developed with a view to provide a firm base for the planning practitioners. The relationship between planning theory and planning practice has always been under constant deliberation and is still evolving.

In earlier days, planners worked in a professional and politically controlled system. The discussions and plans were presented in a professional way which consisted of technical jargon that the public could not be expected to understand (Glass, 1959 cited in Cullingworth and Nadin, 2006). At the time, however, planners were perceived as acting in the general public interest, and hence the lack of public participation and political debate was not recognized as a problem.

During the post-war period, the need for urban and rural development became a necessity. Housing estates were being constructed with few amenities and urban centres rebuilt along with motorways to take in increasing traffic. Development in the villages was neglected and they suffered from a lack of proper infrastructure (Cullingworth and Nadin, 2006). This led to the destruction of social and physical fabric of the place and put planners in a difficult situation. Planners were seen as hostile figures and planning was conceived as bad (Allmendinger, 2009). Public participation was then introduced by Town and Country Planning Act in 1968 (Williams, 1984). Planning authorities created informal mechanisms which encouraged participation of local communities and interest groups to play a part in formulating and implementing planning policy.


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Waste House Construction, Brighton, UK

Case study of Waste House in Brighton | Grand Parade Campus

Waste House is being constructed in the Grand Parade Campus of University of Brighton. Brighton is town in the southeast of England, UK. Duncan Baker Brown and Cat Fletcher are leads in the project. It is a challenging project. This house is going to be used as a studio for postgraduate design students. It will be open to public for viewing. The aim of the project is to demonstrate how waste can be efficiently used for the construction purposes without having to compromise on the quality.

Waste house | Brighton

Waste house | Brighton.  Source: theargus.co.uk

Materials selected for the Waste House Project

Roof – solar roof (Solar PV tiles have been used on the roof.)

Sky harvester – Natural light source

Rainwater harvesting

Timber from local sustainer sources

Second hand timber

Since it is second hand timber and that its strength cannot be determined, the structural engineer assumes that the timber is of the weakest type and compensates in the design accordingly.

Walls

Lightweight prefabricated panels = lots of insulation

Reuse waste materials such as Hemp, glass, earth, tins, straw, carpet tiles

Heavy weight prefabricated panels = lots of heat storage

Chalk wall – 10 tonnes of chalk used + 10% clay

(Although only 100% chalk would mean better wall strength)


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Public Speaking Skills in the life of an Architect

Importance of Public Speaking in Architecture

The life of an Architect is centered around giving presentations…loads and loads of presentations. It starts as an architecture student presenting design concepts in the university to the real life design concepts to the individual clients to massive organisations. All of this takes effective communication. If you all the design skill in the world but are a poor communicator of your ideas, it will still not work. Having excellent ideas is great but not being able to communicate them to your audience effectively is bad. I have realized that ideas need not have to be great or super awesome but your delivery has to be. Even a simple idea maybe not even an original one if delivered effectively with confidence can seem like a great idea to the audience. Speech has power and magic in it!

When I was in architecture school, I had batch mates that were really excellent with design but terrible at presentations. They literally shivered when they went on to present to the class or to the jurors. Their designs were amazing but they lack proper delivery. Shivering on stage is the worst thing that could happen to you when you are presenting on stage. This is only because of lack of confidence and practice.

Look at Steve Jobs speak. This is the kind of confidence you need in order to succeed. He is an extraordinarily amazing speaker!

For all of you wanting to become an Architect, it should be borne in mind that Architects have to be essentially very good speakers. Being able to communicate to the audiences of different types and sizes is always a challenge. Everytime I have discussions with my clients, it feels like I am presenting. It is a one to one presentation. Presentations are an important and indispensable part of an Architect’s life.


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Amsterdam Case study | The Just City

I was reading through the concept presented by Susan Fainstein “The Just City”. I found it quite interesting. Previously, I summarized her idea of Just city concept, where I mentioned that she conducted three casestudies namely New York, London and Amsterdam. She studied these cities and evaluated them in terms of three core principles namely Equality, Democracy and Diversity. She found Amsterdam as being the closest to the model of the Just City.

She recently visited Amsterdam in 2010 and the changing conditions in the city really got her worried. She poses a question in one of her recent lectures.

Can Amsterdam continue to be a just city? Can it withstand financial crisis, anti-immigrant sentiments, neo-liberal attack?

Explanation why she is concerned about Amsterdam continuing to being a Just City

In Amsterdam, one of the things that have occurred is the reduction in the flow of resources coming in from the national government. One of the arguments she makes in the book “The Just City” is that there were only two major factors that allowed Amsterdam to be so successful in attaining its goals of justice.

Amsterdam casestudy

Amsterdam casestudy

  1. Public land ownership
  2. 90% of the budget in the city would come from the National government so that it could decide what it was going to with it. Also, it didn’t have tax its own citizens in order to have sufficient capital. She compares American cities to Amsterdam. American cities get relatively small part of their finance from the National government. The recent bankruptcy of Detroit was a major shock. It is hard to imagine in any western European city that National government would let a major city simply go bankrupt.


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