The law of unintended consequences demonstrates its power, as the simplest of actions dooms nasal cells, the reputation of architects, two counties and millions upon millions of aphids
Don’t hold your breath
The industry’s fears that the government would fail to appoint a chief construction officer before the parliamentary recess were realised last week when the deadline came and went without a peep being heard from the business and innovation department. With parliament not set to return until October, there are doubts that the idea will ever see the light of day. However, we hear lobbyists have been told that the proposals don’t have to go to parliament first, thus making a summer announcement possible. And with Ian Lucas, our latest construction minister telling Building only this week that he still expects to say something on the subject “soon”, maybe there’s still a chance after all?
Even greater London
The good people of Essex and Kent have long feared that they are to become mere suburbs of London when it begins its expansion to the east. This may already be happening if you listen to MP Shahid Malik. Speaking at the Thames Gateway parliamentary summer reception, the communities minister welcomed Charles Falconer, who chairs the Thames Gateway London Partnership, as the “chair of the Thames Gateway”, suggesting that he spoke for the entire region. “It might have been a slip of the tongue,” says one angered onlooker, “but it was as if he didn’t recognise we existed.”
Outgoing RIBA president Sunand Prasad raised eyebrows last week with a speech at Westminster university. He recalled a recent summit between the RIBA and RICS called What Buildings Cost. The conclusion, he said, was that neither of them had any idea. “Glad it’s not just us architects,” he joked. Is Prasad, whose presidency concludes in September, demob happy? RICS chairman, Max Croft, was next up. Having just begun his term, he didn’t feel free to offer a riposte to the quip. An architect admitting ignorance, and QS failing to get the last word? These certainly are unusual times.
Fly away home
A note of warning to developers planning on following the new vogue for “living” roofs made of sedum. Once restricted to self-built eco-homes, these roofs have, of late, been cropping up on buildings in places as urbanised as Canary Wharf. But Blackdown Horticultural Consultants, sedum roof pioneers, recently found an unwelcome side effect: ladybirds. Around 2.5 million of them at Blackdown’s sedum farm in Somerset. After weeks of pestilence and storms, can we now expect a plague of ladybirds?
All fall down
With housing starts at their lowest since the Great Depression, materials firm Celcon must have been pleased to have received an order for 8,000 aircrete blocks in east London. Alas, this was no green shoot but an attempt at a giant domino-toppling record by performance art group Station House Opera. The blocks fell between Mile End Park and Greenwich as part of the Create09 festival. Needless to say, the blocks won’t now be used for housing, but they will be recycled. Celcon tells us 8,000 of them would build about five houses – now, using the blocks to do just that would really be impressive.