That’s it for 2007, the year that Building stepped into virtual reality, Hansom signed up to Facebook and we all shared our thoughts on the Korean toilet house.
2007 was the year the web woke up. Until recently the interweb was happy to bump along delivering news and pictures, but new technology from the likes of Google and YouTube have enabled people to use the internet in ways that were unthinkable just a few years ago.
Just ask NG Bailey. The M&E contractor found itself in hot water in February when a video was posted of labourers on one of its sites passing their working day by setting fire to each other (pictured). This became a big hit on YouTube and got NG Bailey into hot water with its clients.
Undaunted, Building decided to embrace the internet craze Second Life in the same issue, sending online journalist “Katarina Rockett” (the one with the red hair below) to explore. “Second Life is basically made for architecture,” said Canadian fellow traveller Chad Oberg, and New York architect Bennet Dunkley agreed: “There’s no gravity, weather, cost constraints – the sky’s the limit.”
By June, virtual construction had been overtaken by networking site Facebook as the industry’s favourite way to waste time in the office. Building founder and diary columnist Joseph Aloysius Hansom stuck his profile on the site to see how many friends he could make. In an isn’t-it-a-small-world coincidence, he ran into his great-great-great-granddaughter Josephine, who turned out to work two floors below us. Spooky.
We dabbled in some of the new-fangled Web 2.0 innovations ourselves. Our online seminars, or webinars as they are snappily known, proved a big hit. We were expecting about 100 people to register for our Code for Sustainable Homes and CDM Regulations events, but in the event nearly 1,000 signed up and hundreds logged on to Building’s portal on the day. We are going to do lots more in the new year.
Our newsletters meant we were able to deliver news to readers virtually as it happened. Dramatic pictures of fires at the Cutty Sark, Cricklewood and the Olympic park attracted thousands of readers. We also covered some big stories unconnected with things burning down, such as Tony Douglas’ move from BAA to Laing O’Rourke, and the unveiling of the Olympic stadium.
The irreverent nature of the net means it’s not always the high-brow stuff that attracts the most attention. Take, for example, Sim Jae Duck, the Korean designer who built the first ever house inspired by a toilet (below); and Neil Adams of Bovis Homes, who won the company’s moustache competition. For them and us at the Building website it was a very good year.
Alex Smith is Building’s web editor