When all our dreams come true. But until then, you’ll have to make do with more stories about disgruntled surveyors, Olympic cash and out-of-work architects
No conference these days would be complete without a debate on sustainable buildings, but finding speakers prepared to voice bold solutions is a little rarer. At the BSEC MENA education conference in Abu Dhabi this week, former RIBA president Sunand Prasad had no such inhibitions. “If Abu Dhabi wants to be sustainable it should ban people wearing suits,” he told a rather surprised audience. “It’s crazy that we have to wear warm suits because temperatures in air-conditioned offices are so cold. If people wore lighter clothes then buildings wouldn’t need air-con. Architects talk of vernacular architecture. We ought to encourage vernacular dress.”
Don’t ask me: I’m just a hack
I’m beginning to feel a little bit sorry for the RICS. While the surveyors body has been dealing with problems at home, resentment against the institute’s management of its qualifications has spread overseas. Building was contacted by one particularly irate German who was angry at the RICS for refusing to recognise his home-grown qualification. He then asked Building for legal advice. We know it’s a recession but, for the record, using journalists as solicitors is not recommended.
Pass the buck
Olympics watchers hoping last week’s pre-Budget report would resolve the biggest remaining issue over the legacy of the 2012 site were left disappointed. Plans to pass on the £1bn debt that the London Development Agency took on when it bought the site to the communities department were not announced, contrary to the expectations of many. Sources suggest the talks are being held up by departments desperate to offload the debt on each other. The legacy company’s boss, Baroness Ford, told Building in July the issue would be sorted “in the next couple of months”, a date now long past. Surely the government wouldn’t go to all the trouble of firing the previous regeneration boss, setting up a new company, and hiring a top team at great expense, only to leave it hamstrung by debt and unable to do its job? Would it?
Art for our sake
That doesn’t mean a lot of legacy work isn’t happening on the Olympics. Sarah Weir, the head of arts and cultural strategy at the Olympic Delivery Authority, is getting used to explaining the array of artworks on site: from bridges painted the different colours of the London 2012 logo to plants in the shape of buildings that used to stand on the site. However, I hear the one to look out for is a bridge, from designer Jason Bruges Studio, which is flanked by video screens. When a pedestrian approaches the bridge, a video of Usain Bolt will be triggered running from one side to the other.
The ones that didn’t make it
Not all of the art works are so welcome, though. At a conference last week Weir was asked to clarify whether mayor Boris Johnson’s highly publicised plan to build a £20m “iconic” sculpture in the park called Transmission was a speculative entry, as Building revealed last month. She agreed and said, rather wearily: “We get sent enough random art and ideas for things to build on the site that we could fill an exhibition.” Now there’s an idea …
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