Tag Archives: art

How Cheap Can Solar Get

noneThis article on Ramez Naam, show exactly why, we as Architectural Technologists should get into Solar in every way possible, from its design, installation, and use. The title I have used today says it all, which is why I have also used it, How cheap can solar get.

Lets get this straight, we need energy, the whole planet the way we live, talk, travel, communicate, is all based on power. The use of fossil fuels is not endless, its limited at best, and its continued use affects the very nature of the planet earths well being, solar on the other hand is endless, well mostly is you consider the life span of the sun as being a few billion years.

Apart from the way panels are made, and the small footprint that leave behind, solar just sites there and works, no pollutant of any kind, it does not spin whine, or leave residue on the ground it just works…….. mostly, the high end solar farms, I must take time to study, but on the whole I think they are better than nuclear reactors and coal fired station, even gas fired plants.

One are of all this I have not really covered in any of my blog posts, is the way we can design new materials that absorb small amounts of energy and store it ready for the evening pulse of activity, or charging my car, yes I will go Tesla just as soon as I can.

Staying with the theme of material design, this is probably the biggest area that we as technologists can influence change, designing construction methods that utilise these ideas and new materials, adding space that will allow battery storage, exploring the concept of small neighbourhood collectives that share energy, which nicely opens up the debate on AC or DC.



The Dark Side of the Moon

Freddy M -MontreuxI saw this video today looking at the Dark Side of the Moon today, and you know what its like, the mind wonders, I started thinking about music and Genesis, all the moon shots, teaching, and finally ended up thinking how I could use this in one of my lectures, does it really matter to the Architectural Technologist, simple answer is yes, we should try to understand what makes the earth tick.

The moon has such an effect on us, from simply being there, to stopping the earth wobble, to affecting out tides, and hence the weather, to being to subject of so many poems and songs.

But most, it is the training ground for our eventual exit from this earth, but back to today, I think this leads nicely into some of my lectures on the way we navigate, the need to understand how we perceive shadow, the constant motion of shadow and its effect on colour, and texture. I told you many times, my mind wonders, all sorts of things came up watching this video, I so often make notes in my moleskin, and this was a beauty, lists of things as they sprang into mind, link lines sketches and abstract thoughts.

If your one of my students, then as you start using your day book and project books, this is what I am looking for, thought process, ideas, argument right or wrong, concepts, strange links.

Todays photo is the statue of Freddy Mercury on the lakeside Montreux, Switzerland, taken a few weeks ago as we walked to lake, no real link to the Dark side of the moon, but it’s what came into mind,,,,,

Can I expand CPD to a Higher Level

Protection FilmI have often wondered if my CPD needs a little tweak, can I expand my CPD to a higher level, I read, try to organise training with manufacturers, and attend other professional seminars. I do very well, far better than some, and pail into dust at others.

My point is, can I do better, I think I can, and thats the point of this article, can I add more to my CPD, simple yes, and its all down to an article I read by Todd Nesloneyon the Swivl web site. were he outlines what he calls The Power of a personal Learning Network.

I like this idea a lot, I tend to talk to other academics a lot now and can see what he means, I have started to read academic papers, and expand that by making contact with some of the more interesting people I have found from all over the world.

Without realising it, I have already started this some time back with my often lengthy conversations with Jon Pickup, we did not alway talk about Vectorworks, but construction, and design. Plus my business partner, David, who is always ready to talk a detail through, or tell me of materials I might use.

I use, skype, email, and social media to link, Todd has started a hash tag to link these conversations,  try using #SLS15 on twitter, or #scayPLN

I am encouraging my students past and present to do the same, talk about detail, work, projects, materials lectures what ever.

As for Swivl, I have just purchased one of these interesting little devices, it allows me to video a lecture with ease, I tend to walk a lot going from a white board, to a screen and table, this little device follows me, always keeping me in frame, it does this by following not me, but a simple little hand held unit that also has a microphone installed, hung about my neck. More on this later.


Think Tank

stair protectionIn my time as a technical person within a manufacturer, i invented and developed many new products, some from my own ideas, some from other people, and just a few from Think Tanks, or brain storming sessions.

The article below is the beginnings of a lecture I am putting together for manufacturers, to consider hiring the expertise of a consultant like me, who are experienced in new product development,  to lead them down an alternative R&d path trying to look at the internal ways they have relied on for product generation, or not, to consider their own market and those around them, to take a deep look at their own Think Tank.

All construction component manufacturers should at least once a year preferably a lot more frequently, sit together and freely discus the existing product range and possible development to this range together with what products might be added or replace the range.

Making that decision is the first step, but, and its that word again, but, here starts the problems :

  1. The Staffs inability to freely discus the range,
  2. This might be related to the knowledge base he or she has,
  3. Fear, of being shown up, to not not wanting to criticise existing products,
  4. Fear of their boss.
  5. limited market knowledge
  6. The managements inability to let go
  7. To ridged an atmosphere
  8. The list can go on and on………………

The list can go on, simply making the decision to discus the range is good, but the ongoing ability to do this suddenly wains and so often the idea falls apart, or worse is added to the end of a sales meeting.

There is a better way, and that is to hire an external consultant to take a look at the company product range, internal training, if any, literature and marketing and evaluate it, not just the present range, but new  products, current and alternative markets

One route the consultant might take is to form an initial small limited group outside the confines of the office or factory, to tease and coax ideas and concepts out of the team, the idea here is to see what level of expertise the team has, its not about ideas that might change the world, but a fact finding mission to see what makes the leaders tick, you might just get some good leads, but thats not the goal here. I have done this so many times,  and is the real reason for independent consultant, to take time to evaluate the leaders. It might be the company has a Leonardo within it’s ranks and not know it. this first meeting is the time to look for the real people who can add products, and if its there, the blocks.

Next it’s time for the consultant to take this meetings notes and look at ways of developing and leading the team to  new highs, offering ways of looking at their products and showing them alternative concepts and methods.

So often manufacturers are limited in the construction knowledge, they consider them selfs to be experts in their field, and some are, but most are not, they disregard so many peripheral products as meaningless, not part of their profit margin, they loose sight of the real world. Their literature shows this. Perhaps the worst culprits are manufacturers trying to break in to new markets, limiting expenditure, not wanting to commit.

A good technical consultancy, and here I add the word technical for the first time, should start to widen this knowledge base, looking at their market, their research and note keeping methods, and above all, the ways of storing new concepts and ideas, its not alway the case and existing product line can travel well.

Next comes the pitch, the way new ideas are formulated, costed and evaluated. and by who, all the above work, might come to an abrupt end if it goes to a committee where any block might reside, this might be the “not invented here” block, or simply how can outsiders possibly understand a market we have been part of for so long. or my budget……….

So this stage needs to be confined to a single leader, the MD or equivalent, who should sign off on a range of ideas, and allow then to at least get to the next stage of evaluation, that of trials and lab testing.

The article now can be expanded, and the Think tank idea expanded, I will add sections at later dates that will form a complete presentation.

Todays photo is of out stair covering, its been down a week, and taken some heavy traffic, yet still remains in place protecting, I looked up the product at several distributors and a roll is less than £15,  lasting quite a time, and well worth even the smallest contractor considering.

Using a Note Book

2Q==I have found an excellent book, which I intend to purchase, bySimon Unwin, on Using a Note Book, or moleskin, if the web page is anything to go by, its going to be a joy to read.

The web page has just so much, on the purchase, keeping and use of a Note book.from what to study and how to record it. At £24.00 for a used copy and nearly £30 for a new copy, its not cheap, but again if the web page is anything to go by its a must. I shall see if the library at Birmingham City Uni has a copy first, but I don’t think it will stop me purchasing a copy.

On the Web page are links to a pdf example of some of his work, neat, methodical and a joy to read, and a great example of what should be, although I so often say, its your book, make it yours not some one else’s.

the best example I thought was his Entrances, obviously done on a mole Skin, is a very nice read. You can find them under Resources, its a lecture in its own right, and such a good read.

Other links include Heart & Place, again on Moleskins and both ready good reads. all three I have downloaded into my Kindle to read later, I have a trip in July, and I think they will be a nice read, I plan to visit Quedelon in France, and I can easily see a few hours sketching and writing being the order of the day, Whilst my good lady takes the sun.

You might also want to read the entire web page, its just packed with so interesting information, what, how, why.

My own Moleskin is almost full, and I an going to order another from Amazon, I am just to lazy to plod into the local Art shop. But I can’t now be without it, I know it will improve my sketching, and note taking, but what has happened by keeping a moleskin, is I see more, I stop to look, and feel.

One last point, and its one I have made so many times, is convert the book as Simon has done, into pdf and save it to evernote, it’s then completely available for research, oh write neatly, Evernotes OCR is good, but ……….


10″ Roll Detail Paper

10" RollFor over 40 years, I have made use of this classic method of designing, and detailing, using rolls of tracing paper to overlay, trace and outline my detailing and design work.

I all started way back in junior school, when we as a class raided the toilets to get the see through toilet rolls paper to trace over some map or picture to use within some project, little did I realise that it would become an almost daily process for the next 40 odd years.

When I first started work there was no specific Architects detail paper rolls, we purchased an A0 roll of tracing paper and used a saw to cut it into lengths, but I am so glad to say, the market has woken up to this and we now get all sorts of suppliers, offering not just the classic roll but all sorts of paper weights, and colours.

Todays photo is one I took to show, introduce, my students into this method of working, I am so pleased to tel you that almost all have purchased rolls from the Internet and use it constantly in my lessons. More of the same can be found on mt Flickr site

I promote the idea of using both pencil and coloured felt tips to layer floors the picture today shows this on a survey we did of a Masonic Building in Severn Street, Birmingham.

The idea is not to throw away details or designs, but keep them, number and date them, add them to your design diary, go back and review if neccasary, but do not throw away the scraps of roll, add notes, scan them if you must, I actually do this with Evernote, making sure I tag the file and show where and what project they come from.

I use both a very lightweight canary Yellow roll, and a heavy weight course grain white roll which I lie to use fr pencil work only.


Think like an Architect – or not

Purlin supportThe following videos, I find interesting, Although I am by heart a Technologist, I have rubbed shoulders with Architects for so long, I tend to wonder, do I now think like a technologist, or Architect.

The answer is a little in the middle, students come to me and ask, why we teach design, my answer is simple, you can not detail a building without understanding the design. Besides, you are going to rub shoulders with Architects who have spent so long thinking about design, its only natural, some is going to rub of on you, all I am doing is preparing you for the inevitable.

In answer to the first paragraph, its the technologist, but I can’t help seeing the design, so I watch the videos below and understand, but can’t help thinking, but I can detail it better. The fire place is wrong, or could i detail the roof truss better.

The video below is from a nice set by American Architect Barry Burkus, follow the video back to youtube and watch them all.