From Wild West to North West: Reconstituting agrarianism

Meme Cloud

illinoislands_rrposterSource:  Illinois State Museum

The agrarian ideal offers speculation relating to how we can propagate, feed and reap the rewards of new society.  It is unsurprising then, that this ideal stems from a Fenland vision, transplanted by pioneers and speculators to the New World.  Flourishing as the American Dream in a landscape of constitution, agrarianism became the fertile bract of the moral and ethical roots of the United States.  It was manifested in plan form in William Penn’s Philadelphia (1683) and progressed by visionaries such as Lloyd Wright (Broadacre City, 1934), Henry Dreyfuss (Democracity, 1939) and Ludwig Hilbersheimer (The New Regional Pattern, 1944-49).  The theme has been explored in the technological age by Branzi (Agronica, 1993-94) and MVRDV, notably Pig City (2001).  More contemporary dalliances with agrarianism deconstruct the ideal to mere visions of food production via urban agriculture, which, though valuable contributions…

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Amory Lovins, Restorative Sustainability, System Thinking … and BIM

fairsnape isite

I recently came across this great quote from Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute (and used in a recent BIM Beyond Barriers report)

“As we shape our buildings and then our buildings shape our lives, we can choose to create abundance by design, not scarcity through inattention.

We can design radically efficient buildings that take nothing, waste nothing, do no harm, and create delight when entered, tranquility when occupied, and regret when departed—yet cost the same or less to build, cost almost nothing to run, and make people happier, healthier, and more productive.

 The key is integrative design that optimizes the building as a whole system, for multiple benefits, rather than its disjoint components for single benefits. Many similar benefits are available in existing buildings, as RMI’s RetroFit initiative aims to spread.

 And Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a powerful tool for spreading these results worldwide

Amory B…

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Construction 2025 Industrial Strategy

A game of Snakes and Ladders? ….

fairsnape isite

Reading the published edition of the Government Industry Strategy, Construction 2025, released yesterday I had two metaphors in mind, Snakes & Ladders and Babies in the River. Metaphors at first annoyingly contradictory, but on reflection pleasingly complementary.

UntitledThe Construction 2025 Industrial Strategy vision contains ambitions to cut costs, deliver projects faster, reduce carbon emissions, improve image and exports, through working digitally,  sustainably, and yes more efficiently.

Snakes and Ladders: illustrates the myriad strands and issues we are trying to deal with in the industry. Indeed the strategy includes a number of ladders with the excellent intention to move the industry forward, but also a number of slippery snakes to prevent meaningful progress for industry players and the industry as a whole. And, no doubt there will be plenty of commentaries on what issues are ladders (BIM and Carbon perhaps?) and which are snakes (image, diversity, SME relevance perhaps?)

However,

Babies in the…

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Construction 2025 research vision

Interesting commitments in the Construction 2025 Industrial Strategy: government and industry in partnership launched today:

Industry and Government are committed to working with academic and research
communities to:

■ inspire and bring forward more research, development and demonstration;
■ promote it to the wider industry;
■ make the most of existing technologies;
■ remove barriers to innovation; and
■ improve visibility and access to innovation and R&D incentives

Next question is how the strategy will be implemented.

Copies of the strategy can be downloaded here 

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University sustainability: where should we focus our energies?

From the Guardian Sustainable Business article and debate on University Sustainability

“Universities are the true thought leaders of society and if they don’t lead the way, there is a risk that less independent voices fill the vacuum with their own agenda on the subject of sustainability, rather than insights based on robust research,” wrote Jonathon Porritt for the network last year.

A year on, are universities driving the sustainability movement forward – or has energy on this issue stalled? The 2013 People & Planet Green League shows some universities are making more effort than others.

( UCLAN were placed 9th overall in the  2013 People & Planet Green League )

What is higher education‘s role in creating a more sustainable environment for the wider community, as well as its own students and staff? Is it tradition that’s preventing some universities from adopting more ethical forms of procurement, infrastructure and teaching models – or a case of sustainability scepticism among senior heads and academics?

The GSB live chat covered the following topics:

• How sustainability research is being supported and funded

• Challenges and benefits of ethical procurement

• Education’s role in a sustainable future

• Collaborative partnerships

• Where to focus university efforts

Comments were also posted through twitter using the hashtag #HElivechat.

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Sustainable Infrastructure

The following article appeared on the CSRWire blog yesterday, a good read with interesting views on P3, or PPP – take time to read and add comment …

“We must take the opportunity provided by sustainability to focus on best outcomes over time for business, government and society in addition to best solutions to their immediate problems.”

By Gary Lawrence, Chief Sustainability Officer, AECOM

The world’s infrastructure and economic systems are in a precarious state and a lack of investment in established markets, dramatic population growth in developing countries and unanticipated natural disasters around the world are increasing the urgency of addressing global infrastructure and sustainability challenges in the near future. More …

 

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What did social psychologists ever do for us?

Meme Cloud

If you’re an avid reader of the Journal of Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, (which I’m sure you are), you’ll have spotted my recent article publication:

The Social Life of the Novel Idea:
What did social psychologists ever do for us?

This paper is a first step in rescuing the study of the design process as a solitary activity towards an understanding of its social aspects.  Understanding how social behaviour influences the design process is crucial if we are to improve our collaborative skills and embed effective interdisciplinary design techniques into design and construction project processes.

many small light bulbs equal big one
Source:  picstopin

So, the paper looks at the key theories in the field of social psychology and interrogates literature from the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector to see if there is any evidence of a link between social behaviour and design team creativity.  It turns out that there is a HUGE body…

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