12 March, 2008
The Garnaut Review today released Issues Paper 5 – Transport, planning and the built environment
The information contained therein seems to be generally sensible, and I think it is particularly worthwhile for the architecture profession to take note of the fact that buildings are responsible for 23% of Australia’s GHG emissions. This figure does not however include the emissions from the construction and renovation of said buildings. This also compares to transport being responsible for 14% of Australia’s GHG emissions (private cars are responsible for 7%, though this is rising).
What I do find interesting, in fact somewhat worrying, is the fact that 5.5 pages are dedicated to transport and planning, whilst 2.5 are dedicated to buildings, which seems out of whack with their respective emissions impact.
Something I’m surprised wasn’t mentioned (given the market focus of the report) as a way to reduce built environment emissions was the disclosure of a building’s energy rating when it is sold or leased. How are people supposed to make rational spending choices without all of the relevant information?
7 December, 2007
The UK’s new scheme to build a bunch of ‘eco-towns’ is being criticised as being totally stupid. the basic criticism is that you can’t say something is ‘eco’ just because it has lots of insulation, and you especially can’t say it is eco if you have bulldozed a bunch of trees to get at the land to build it on and that land is miles from anywhere else. Der.
An economist pointed out a while ago that the best way for a small town to become ‘green’ was actually to move to London. Because of the density of London, the people that live there emit 40% less GHG than the national average, whilst the inhabitants of the town emit 25% more.
I tried to argue for the benefits of density with a committed Green a while ago, in the wake of protesting against some truly badly designed new development nearby, only to find out that density just didn’t fit with this person’s idea of green. Not enough mud bricks, vegie patches or hemp it seemed.
30 November, 2007
It appears that the Camberwell Station redevelopment is back! And the NIMBY’s aren’t happy.
Apparently even Randall Marsh‘s mum wasn’t too happy with her son’s take on the site. And you can be sure that everyone’s favourite conservative liberal art types, Geoffrey Rush and Barry Humphries, will be up in arms loudly holding forth with their very own version of Pauline’s “I don’t like it”. The resident’s action group spokesperson is priceless though “This is worse than we expected, apart from a small strip of land near the station, the entire site will be covered in buildings and the ambience of Camberwell will be destroyed forever.”
Yes dear, what will happen when those dreadful people move in to live in the apartments? They might even be something other than white anglo-saxon protestants, heaven forbid! Because really, all of these new houses that Melbourne needs, can’t they just build them somewhere else? Those new housing estates are frightfully ugly, but at least one doesn’t have to look at them. Yes, send those people out there, somewhere else away from me and my time warp.
There is also the small issue of “the ambience of Camberwell”, does this woman see nothing odd about talking about the ambience of some train tracks?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any more images on the Wood Marsh site and I can’t even find a site for the developer, Tenterfield.
24 November, 2007
Apparently the view from the St Kilda Esplanade over the current concrete carpark to the beach is “unique” and must be saved! Personally, I assumed it was just another view of the beach and a somewhat unlikely one at that, fewer people walk along the footpath on the side of the Esplanade that has beach views than the other side where all of the actual (current) buildings are. That and the fact that you can look at the beach from a few other places in St Kilda…
But no, apparently it appears that ARM + Citta’s St Kilda Triangle will alter the view from the upper Esplanade. Never mind the fact that there is a seriously ugly carpark sitting in the middle of that view at the moment, or the fact that the views from the new development will be of the beach. Now, apparently there is a planning provision in place that says that beach views can’t be blocked, but being in contravention of a planning law is a different thing than sheer NIMBY-ism.
Are we still living in the bloody picturesque?
14 November, 2007
An interesting addition to the Festival of Silliness that is the current federal election campaign is the RAIA’s party poll on issues affecting architecture and the built environment.
Basically, they’ve provided a bunch of statements to the parties and asked them to respond. So far only the Greens and the Coalition have gotten back to them it seems. There is so much bloody spin in the Coalition’s response that I could barely read it without feeling ill (from the dizziness you know), though I think they basically said that they wouldn’t give any money to the Venice Biennale. But they do quite clearly and in all seriousness quote a Demographia study, so they’re obviously a pack of simplistic morons. And the Greens, jeez, why can’t they work out how to print to PDF? They also want to “promote a distinctly Australian style” within architecture. Which sounds a) impossible and b) like jingoistic crap.
The RAIA has also created three BBQ Stopper Podcasts (their term, not mine), which seem to be recorded panel discussions, on the topics of housing affordability, sustainability and nation building. Will have to investigate further and report back, because I am in fact going to a bbq this weekend, so I’ll see if shouting something from the podcasts gets everyone to shut up and stop eating.
18 October, 2007
yes, the election campaign is finally upon us and the stupid policies have started flowing thick and fast.
now k. rudd appears to believe that the prime miniscule’s commonwealth land release policy to improve housing affordability was such a good idea that he wants to claim it. never mind the fact that it basically won’t work because:
- most of the land they’re talking about isn’t anywhere near where anyone wants to live
- anything that brings the cost of houses down would piss off people who already own houses, who are a far bigger voting block than those who don’t, not a group any politician wants to lose
- they’d only sell the land to big ugly developers who would simply sell it for going market rates, after erecting rubbish soul less boxes that no one should have to live in before that of course.
- it’s the economy stupid!
i mention it though because i think this is as close to mentioning the built environment as politicians will come… it seems that despite the fact that we spend a good proportion of our lives inside a building, no one really talks about them much, unless it is in reference to how much they cost or if they’re broken in some way.
back on topic though, hosing affordability has more to do with low interest rates prompting people to borrow more than they otherwise would and competing against each other at auctions than a lack of land. and they’re only doing it in close to cities. in some areas of western sydney, house prices are actually in decline because people simply don’t want to live there because there is nothing to do and no services. if there is so little demand out there already, what the hell use will releasing yet more land be?
30 September, 2007
It seems somewhat fitting to continue the theme of ludicrous mega-urban developments in countries with near-dictatorial political regimes, by sending along news of Erick van Egeraat’s design for a chain of artificial islands in the shape of Russia. Enough already.
I haven’t seen the book yet, but apparently Mike Davis is taking a critical look at these urban fantasies in his next, titled Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of NeoLiberalism.
6 September, 2007
A kind of public design competition was held recently, called There’s a Hole in My Bucket. This competition was members of the public taking photos of things they thought were badly designed, with a numbered yellow bucket in the picture as well. A few people took photos of buildings:
Bucket 19 – “Where’s the gallery?”
Bucket 29 – “I believe architecture should be SO much more than this.” (I agree, but this building always makes me think of that pithy Robert Venturi aphorism: the only thing worse than vulgar urbanism is tasteful urbanism)
Bucket 42 – “Where does the responsibility lie for creative implementation when it comes to permanent architectural structures? The owner? The Architect? The Local Planning Authorities? When is it right to dedicate a permanent three story structure to a mediocre contemporary? “
Bucket 92 – “When is it right to dedicate a permanent three story structure to a mediocre contemporary?”