While St Jude brings both a wind turbine and Nick Clegg to a halt, and an Italian architect fills a Shanghai office with bubbles, there’s still time for a moment of quiet reflection in the Staffordshire countryside

hansom for i pad

A little too much green energy

This week Building joined industry leaders in writing to the prime minister to express support for green levies, which help to pay for renewable energy projects, among other things. But the argument that this was a good thing was dealt a cruel blow by the weather itself. The St Jude storm expressed its displeasure for puny humans trying to harness its awesome wind power by felling a wind turbine in Devon. I’m sure that means another few pence on all our energy bills to pay for a new one.

Some corner of a foreign field

You often read of builders uncovering historic treasures, but deep in the Staffordshire countryside, aggregates giant Cemex is actually painstakingly covering up a remarkable find. Cemex was called in after a team of archaeologists working for the local council uncovered a unique model of the town of Messines, Belgium, covering over 1,400m2, built by German prisoners of war to commemorate a famous victory in the First World War. The prisoners built the model at Brocton Camp in 1918. Due to the scale and fragility of the model, the archaeologists believed it could be lost in just six months if left exposed, and reburial is deemed the only way to preserve it. Cemex has donated around 120 tonnes of sand for the poignant task of making the model disappear.

The joys of working from foam

There has been quite a bit of concern about a housing bubble of late. Well, it seems that Shanghai could be heading for the same problem - sort of. Architect 3GATTI from Rome is proposing to retrofit an existing building in the city centre with a series of antibacterial bubbles, making the building look like a giant white bouncy castle. The firm said the bubbles would create an insulating layer of air, which can be exchanged with that in the building to help control the temperature. The architect says the building will “detach itself from the boring cityscape”, though one hopes not literally by floating away.

Get snapping

The Chartered Institute of Building’s annual Art of Building competition has opened. The contest is an international showcase for the best digital photography of the built environment, and is open to both professional and amateur photographers. Last year an image depicting the construction of a modern temple roof in Bangkok, Thailand, by Portuguese pharmacist Ines Costa won the top place. A £3,000 cash prize is on offer for the overall winner. The competition is open to entries until 21 November. For more information visit www.artofbuilding.org.

Hammersmith, mon amour

Off to Claridge’s last week with the great and good of the UK property industry for the launch of Mipim UK, which will run in London Olympia next October. The launch party was well attended - free canapés in luxury surroundings are always a draw - but will the property industry crowd, for whom the annual jaunt to the French Riviera is a high point in the diary, really be willing to swap its ancestral home in Berkeley Square for the less salubrious environs of Hammersmith for a week next autumn? It remains to be seen whether restaurants will pop up along the Hammersmith flyover to cater for the property crowd, à la Cannes beach.


Crane stopped play

The drama sparked by the St Jude storm this week went right to the centre of power, after the strong winds caused a crane to collapse on to the roof of the Cabinet Office in Westminster. There were no reported injuries, but the authorities were forced to close access to Whitehall and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg had to cancel a regular press conference at the Cabinet Office, tweeting: “Today’s press conference moved to a day when there isn’t a crane on the roof and journalists travelling on the train are able to join us.”

Send any juicy industry gossip to hansom@ubm.com