Mr Jones and the Rt Hon Mr Southall are back from the big smoke having been the star turn at a retrofit event at the Arup offices in London. This was a Fit for the future network event. The event was the brain child of Simon Brammer from the Ashden Award supported and coordinated by Arup and the events purpose was to share, learn and look for the common ground. We know that the existing building stock posses the greatest challenge if we are to meet the ambitious 2050 carbon reduction targets. But also if the National Trust can do ‘stuff’ with its amazing treasure houses then as Simon reiterated in his closing comments ‘then there is no excuse for the rest of us!’
We covered quite a bit of ground in the hour. Sharing experiences from Arup and the National Trust. It was interesting in the wash up session in terms of one question. Fabric improvements vs technology. The answer from the evening was nice and clear. “NEITHER” ….people first. Use what you have better, involve end users in all aspects. Look after what you have. This is where Norman comes in on big buildings. (also called Cyril, Fred, Dave…) These are the people who know where things are, how stuff works, how buildings function or don’t. We undervalue the Normans (maintenance, facilities, odd job man and a whole plethora of other names) at our peril. People decide how a building will function, change, adapt and we must put a lot more time and resources into improving understanding, roles and responsibilities, explaining cause and effect. Finding common ground between technical specialists and the people who will have to live with the end product. Handing a building over to a new user is now called a ‘soft landing’ in terms of handover of clever stuff. but we also need ‘soft starts’ in terms of understanding what people at the coal face need. Quite often the end-user is not sure what they need and therefore need to be bought up to speed before decisions and briefs are developed
Final thought. Climate change and cities. Being a country boy I always get very hot and sticky in big cities and especially so yesterday. Befuddles the brain. What will an extra 3c due to climate change do to the functioning of these large organisms and the people within? Don’t think its a mater of more deodorant. Not nice!