10 October 2019

Taking on one of our ‘Architects Declare’ responsibilities to help educate the next generation of architects about our climate emergency and what we can do to address it, we gave a lecture this week at Oxford Brookes University, to year 2 architecture students about low energy retrofit. The lecture was held in the Sir Kenneth Wheare Hall, an excellent multi-functional space, within the newly refurbished Clerici building by Berman Guedes Stretton Architects. The space was a joy to use and a vast improvement in teaching and learning facilities since our days studying there!

One aim of the course module is to bridge the gap between academia and industry. Our lecture explained what low energy retrofit is and why it’s so important, we discussed energy standards including Passivhaus / Enerphit, we presented one of our live retrofit projects with the challenges involved, and finally we talked about post-occupancy evaluation (POE) and how crucial it is to learn from what we’ve done in order to improve. The students were highly engaged, asking intelligent questions on the subject. We look forward to the next time.

03 October 2019

“The twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are the most serious issues of our time. Buildings and construction play a major part, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats.

For everyone working in the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour. Together with our clients, we will need to commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system.”

We are proud to be a signatory to the open letter declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency, making a commitment to positive action in response. To see the full letter and to sign up, go to:

www.architectsdeclare.com

26 September 2019

We often pass this gem when exploring the delightful Welsh village and lily ponds of Bosherston in South Pembrokeshire. Named ‘Styll’ or ‘Style’, this well-preserved Grade II listed building was an 18th Century farmhouse that boasts a fully slate-tiled front façade and roof. The small slates were most likely sourced locally, given the historical prominence of Pembrokeshire and Welsh Ordovician slate. Each one is unique, creating a completely uneven, rustic pattern that puts it at odds with the smooth and regular modern-day tiled surfaces. We love its distinctiveness and its ability to generate an ever-changing texture of light and shadow, according to the time of day. This intricate tapestry would have taken great skill and care to complete. Its hand-crafted aesthetic truly reflects the personality of those who installed it.

19 September 2019

We attended an engaging workshop yesterday about the role of innovation for social enterprises, run by local business network Oxfordshire Greentech. It was held at the Old Fire Station / Corn Exchange, based in the gothic red-brick buildings on George Street, designed by prolific Oxford architect Harry Wilkinson Moore. Arts at the Old Fire Station are doing great things for the arts, creativity and above all inclusivity and breaking down social barriers. They have created an excellent venue and an invaluable resource for the public.

During the workshop, we engaged in some fascinating discussions, covering such topics as; defining sustainability, the Social Value Act, the Buy Social campaign, Earth Overshoot Day, eco-tourism. Speakers and attendees included some of Oxfordshire’s most inspirational individuals and organisations, who shared with us some like-minded motives and values, with lots of potential for collaboration. We discussed how to promote ourselves as innovative market leaders, putting a strong emphasis on value over cost. It made us feel incredibly proud and positive that change is happening, and right on our door step.

12 September 2019

We attended a series of short talks last week about wildlife conservation at the beautiful Bernard Sunley Lecture Theatre, St Catherine’s College, designed by Danish architect Arne Jacobsen. The species discussed included the Sehuencas water frog, in the form of Romeo the world’s loneliest frog, as well as the rediscovered Togo slippery frog, both of which featured as successful survivors of extinction. Clearly, big change is required to help our planet’s wildlife to survive human-made climate change, and big change is required to do our part in striving for a low carbon and low impact society. Our main takeaway from the talks was that, in order to incite change, a captivating story or narrative really helps to engage people.