Tag Archives: Technologist

Free academic papers to all

Spiral Stone StaircaseI have been mulling over the idea, that the time might be right to revive the old Innovation & Research group within CIAT, with perhaps a little tweak in its remit.

A lot of members , at least ones that I have talked to, are looking for ways to publish technical papers, and open debates on technical issues. currently the only way to successfully do this is via submitting papers for pier review and watch it disappear behind a closed academic, or fire pay wall, fine for academic writing, but almost useless for some one who might want a little more exposure and publicity. I have several out there, that you need to pay for to read, and I get nothing.

I have nothing against this if you’re a true academic, who has little or no problem accessing papers and is only interested in an academic career, but for us on the outside even the likes of me, who has a foot in the academic world but earns most of his monthly income from public sources, who wants free access to published material, simply because is a great way to prove my expertise.
My thoughts are that we would build a small system to allow papers to be simply uploaded, and reviewed by CIAT Chartered members and then pushed onto an open free resource, I have played about with such a system on wordpress, and it works very well, Google Scholar would be free to scan and list papers, and authors would get full recognition for their work. Academic can still cite and use as always, but the tech public outside of academia, will not be bared from the main article.
You might say tha this is the reason for AT magazine, I would argue not, for one it’s not peer reviewed, and second it’s not easy to search online for an article or paper, this new system takes it to the next level and beyond.
As always there are problems, getting members to donate time to read and comment on papers, archive and protection of work. but there does not seem to be any major obstacle, other than active participation and writing interesting papers.
As a natural follow on, I have an idea to allow presentation of work as a bi annual conference, somewhere in Europe to start, than see where it can be hosted.
Unlike ICAT whose papers seem to be for specific topic and are listed in a single book, I want individual papers on any topic 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
Language is alway a problem, but Google is so good at it, that I don’t see a problem in dual language submissions.
I have alway wondered why photography is never looked at as an academic source, there is so much to see and read from a single photo, I want to explore this further either within this academic site, or as part of a separate site, devoted to technical photography. Observation is lacking in so many people, so the thought that a single shot of a construction with a well written text content could convey so much in comparison to  a long technical article, I find intriguing. I have been playing with this with my Flickr account, lots of tags and a well written notes, with a good descriptive title.
CPD is a problem, we just don’t have the time to attend a lecture, so as part of this debate, I want to take a look at lectures on video, I have done several of these with some minor success on just a few, but it prove a point. There is a way to go, I want to add slides and lecture notes with added reading and research comments, perhaps site addresses, and cad files links

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.


Big City Data – BIM IoT and WoB

WOBIt seems as I do more and more research into the Big City Data, there are specific sections that are lining up to be dominant. Todays title are the basic outline of these, Big City Data – BIM IoT and WoB sectors.

Buildings as I made you aware in my “Big Data is bigger than you think” article can and should suck up as much freely available data that is generated by its surrounding structure, but there needs to be a reciprocal approach in giving back and having a two way dialog.

We see this happening with objects, devices like kettles, fridges and the like communication to who ever they are linked to  this seems to be collected under the title of the Internet of Things  “IoT”,

Buildings talking back now comes under the heading of Web of Buildings “WoB”, a good start to understanding this is a very short paper by Amin Anjomshoaa, of Vienna University of Technology, the diagram included in the paper, shown above, I think is a great start.

There are several reference papers cited, but the more I look onto the internet, and tech citation sites there seems to be little to expand this idea.

Certainly, the rich database of BIM information we use in the construction phase need not be used, and certain information like the basic 3D model, might well be sensitive, same goes for energy usage, would we want this in the public domain, some might, it could be there are several levels of access, police and fire service, general public and service companies like water or electricity.


Solant Uni Southampton


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.

Big Data & the Technologist

Standing outside Starbucks - #2Quite a while ago, I listed a new section within my CPD, I wanted to get into and understand how Big data would affect not only me as a person, but also my profession, and how I might teach detailing in the future.

Like many projects it got side lined as personal problems like taking up teaching, in a more serious way, my Professorship, which I take very seriously, and business got in the way. But as they say, I’m back, and have started to read more on the subject. I have started by the usual search on Google, and adding the results to my Evernote collection, tagging as I go, with items all linked with a single tag of “big data” then I have added separate tags to identify how I want to see it and whether or not is to be read, the obvious tag of “Read” comes in handy here.

I wrote about this a long while ago, after looking at a couple of IBM videos on Youtube, most of the information available looks at the way big data affects things like transport, improved capacity, the traveller experience, but my interest is how it will affect the design of buildings, or even the need for certain buildings.

Take for instance the way the car is used, I have a garage and a car, in fact we have two garages, and two cars, yet only one car gets put away, mine tends to stay out in all weather, and my half of the double garage gets used for storage and some form of workshop. thats fine, but what happens if the new driverless taxi takes of, do I need a car, and will new house designs need a garage.

Take the idea a little forward, perhaps I might get a better rate if I let the driverless taxi refuel, or plug in at my home, whilst it waits for a call. The point is, will big data and the way its affecting life change the way we design and detail.

Thats my interest, do I need to forget the garage, will planners need to re establish the local road structure and guide lines on house design.As soon as you look into the subject of Big Data, it becomes so clear that the smart house, is intrinsically embedded into the subject matter, and this is a subject I have been looking at over the years.

About a year ago, I started to look at the way, global warming would affect, my detailing, I was concerned that the condensation point for almost any structure might be affected, simply because we design for a singular thermal gradient, in that energy flows predominately out of the building, in fact we detail primarily to stop this happening, but as global warming takes over this might well be reversed, and the condensation point forced to move within the building towards the inside, causing mould and all sorts of rot problems.

Next comes along the new Nest products, the home automation, which will switch on a house heating just in time for your home coming, I am aghast at this, it seems to me, this will cause even more problems with housing, with heating of cooling being switched on just because its needed by the occupant, I want the home automation hub, to look at local big data and decide if its right to switch on, will there be enough sun to power the system, and is there a weather front heading towards the house that might affect the way it will work, and best of all, will switching on the cooling system cause condensation in the wrong place.

This brings in immediate local sensors embedded within the structure, and community sensors within a small radius broadcasting open free data on say temperature, wind speed, humidity, and cloud cover and cloud movement or direction, which might be stored on say local lighting poles of local buildings, again powered by solar.

So much to think of and so much to research, my note book is going to get filled, and Evernote will be working overtime to store it all, but most of all, will I be able to use it in my practice.


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.

Let it Rain

Tiles cill detailI spent the best part of Saturday helping out on a book fare stall for the National Trust, great fun except it rained for the best part of the morning, keeping the volunteers busy covering book stalls with polythene and generally keeping the books dry, also it stopped the visitors dropping by.

But whilst I was standing there it gave me time to watch the rain, and its here that I watched intently as the rain drained from several different buildings and construction.

Take the very low pitched clay tile roof, if a student is ever going to understand pitched clay tile roofing, then they should watch, a roof perform, not a couple of seconds, but minutes to see how water is shed,

Also windows and brickwork, the hard surface of glass sheds a lot of water, and most drained down the face onto the cill, and its here a good understanding of drip detailing is learned, how many times have I seen architects use no drip brick cills only to go back in a year TO FIND GREEN MOULD, IF ONLY THEY HAD SAT AND WATCHED A WINDOW PERFORM IN DRIVING RAIN.

So to all my students be prepared, if its raining we are going walk about, I have several building close to the campus that will show this in time detail, from old 100year old  touch buildings still performing to modern day classic mistakes. We will stand there and watch how water drains

We might also point out attention to the water on the ground, how does it flow, where does water collect and how does it get to the drainage point if at all.