Ecobuild was hectic from the get-go - what with having to make sure none of the Lego pandas escaped and soothing hurt feelings from a damning tweet - some didn’t even let up in their leisure time
A panda in sheep’s clothing
The Ken Shuttleworth-designed Bamboo Village model - built out of Lego by Ecobuild delegates last week - was a roaring success. The four-towered structure, one of which reached the target height of 2m, was officially “topped out” by the Make founder on the final day of the event complete with lights, a smoke machine and Lego pandas.
I hear the pandas - which, in a case of art imitating life, had been extremely hard to come by - were especially popular. One sneaky delegate even tried to snaffle one in her handbag. But Make’s Justin Lau was having none of it as he chased her down and demanded the safe return of the panda to its rightful Bamboo environment. Her excuse for such flagrant pilfering? “I thought it was a sheep.” Oh, well that’s all right then.
From here to paternity
There’s nothing quite like a bit of moral support from your parents. Even when you’re a grown-up. Greg Barker, the minister for energy and climate change, spoke to a packed auditorium at Ecobuild last week and had his own Dad sitting in the audience. The MP stopped to give his father a hug before hitting the stage to deliver his keynote address on Tuesday. Proof then that you’re never too old to have a friendly, familial face in the crowd. I’m sure Mr Barker senior was very proud, and delighted to see just how far his son has come on since those nativity plays.
The private life of …
I’m glad to see Richard McCarthy playing up to his controversial reputation. At the Ecobuild conference last week, the former top civil servant - who led development of the government’s divisive planning reforms - acknowledged he had made the “nasty” move from the public sector to the private sector by joining Capita Symonds last month. The fallout from the move even made the front page of the Daily Telegraph. He described his career as progressing from “nasty poacher” at developer Peabody, to “game keeper” at the civil service, through to “really nasty poacher” at his current employer. Well, we did say he would be one to watch in our January predictions for 2012.
Stepping on toes
Candidate for Twitter storm in a tea cup of the week. Chief construction adviser Paul Morrell created a bit of a stir on the first day of Ecobuild last week by appearing to deliver a stinging rebuke to the UK’s project managers. Speaking at a panel he said that project managers were frequently “given the space on projects to destroy value”. Given that Morrell has previously run one of the oldest and best known UK firm of construction consultants and project managers, Davis Langdon, that seemed quite an admission. After the Building team tweeted the comments, consultant Turner & Townsend seemed personally hurt: “Ouch! We strongly disagree …” ran the company’s official Twitter account. Morrell later clarified that he had only been referring to certain - unnamed - project managers who “just didn’t get it” and acted as a barrier between clients and potentially innovative construction teams. Thank God for that. Hell hath no fury like a project manager scorned.
A sustaining drink
Thanks must go to our Top 50 Rising Stars of Sustainability for coming out in force for their Ecobuild reception. The only problem was that they managed to drink the UBM stand bar dry. A constant stream of Bellinis and cucumber coolers was not enough to keep this lot’s thirst quenched. In the end, we had to admit defeat as the last glass was served only due to a lack of supplies. Mind you, who can blame them after two days networking in the 100 acre Excel Centre with just coffee shops and burger outlets for sustenance? And I hear that once we had done our bit to hydrate them, they swiftly moved on to the UKGBC boat party where the drinks continued to flow. Now that shows stamina.