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Resi 2016 launched into the bad news about the economy and the affordability of housing. If governments and voters are heavily indebted then why would you raise interest rates and if you don’t raise interest rates then how do people save for their old age? Some people alive now will live to 150 I was told. But I didn’t believe it.
Interesting contributions from many others.
I think the next couple of years will be about combining our off site manufacturing expertise with our Build to Rent knowledge. At the end of the day I was well looked after by the Property Week team, so many thanks to them.
Over the last year, we’ve had Mike Hopkins coming in to train our management team in a few useful techniques. We’re a business run by designers so it’s good to hear how the professionals do it. Contrary to popular perception (big egos/ sensitive souls) designers don’t really need to be treated all that carefully but they are good at questioning the conventional route. Mike has a straightforward style, telling our creative team what he thinks, and this is going down well.
Getting a great guided tour around the first bespoke build-to-rent building in the UK, for be:here.
Fraser and Isla have expertise too. Here they are showing two year old Ellan some advanced present unwrapping skills.
A man in a stripy jersey watching his kid at swimming lessons.
Julie watching the tennis and working out how we’ll get the boiler fixed. We moved into a house in the winter and the boiler burst. It now appears this happens to pretty much everyone.
Maybe the 25% of the population who’d consider buying a new house have got it right?
Talking to the PRS Forum about the differences between placemaking for Private Rent and placemaking for sale. There are more than you’d think, so I had to be selective in my ten minute slot. I listened hard to the session before, trying to work out what the most relevant things were to talk about. I noted down “the IRR will ring the bell at 7” but mostly so I can ask my more financially fluent colleagues what that means.
In Manchester discussing how devolving power to regions can lead to more effective and more appropriate solutions to the current housing crisis. Lots of support for this and lots of good ideas. I think Scottish devolution has opened people’s eyes to the benefits of local decision making but they haven’t yet experienced it’s overwhelming, empowering, energy.
Next day: Derby. We’ve started the design of Phase Two of Castleward so it’s a good time to think about the bits of Phase One that work (mixed use/ mixed tenure/ mixed typologies/ the biggest trees we’ve ever planted/ streets) and the bits that don’t. If being an architect is sometimes quite hard work, it’s all made worthwhile when you see things you imagined realised.
With my colleagues for breakfast at Duck & Waffle 40 storeys up the Heron Tower. Planning the future of our business. Impressive neighbours peer in the window.
Work is busy. The weather is cold and grey. Sketching will remain an indoor activity for the next month or so. This limits any outdoor views to what’s right in front of the coffee shop window as I eat breakfast. I think this is called a TX4, from the London Taxi Company.
The weirdest way to travel remains the sleeper. In the bar at the start of the journey you can just glimpse the romance of rail travel from bygone days. Seven hours later you join the rest who’ve hardly slept to queue for a shower in Euston station.
At the Edinburgh Urban Design panel in the City Chambers. Former Provosts watch over the group to remind us to do the best for this amazing city. I’m a back seat driver on this one, so I watch David H doing his professional presentations in Edinburgh… …and on Grosvenor Street in London.
Alan Hamilton in Hemma at lunchtime.
People should get more information to be able to compare the homes they’re considering buying: space, cost in use, broadband speed etc. The Housing Forum are pushing it and I went along to hear Ben Derbyshire talking us through how it would work.
It seems like a good idea, there’s more about it here:
I was at a conference, so was quickly on to a new topic, a debate on Regeneration and particularly the accusation that it’s a process of gentrification. We need to improve the physical place but we need to improve the lives of the existing population, not just displace them. No disagreement there, but different ideas about how that can be achieved and how the approach in the south isn’t going to work for the rest of the country.Then some football watching followed by a meal with Crestel. This was generally relaxed but interspersed with some emotional discussion of the upcoming referendum.
I feel fortunate to be taking part in a vote that arouses this amount of passion, a marked contrast to the parliamentary elections and the main stream parties.
One frustration of being an architect is the fact that the main thing that stands between you and consistently great output is your own lack of talent. Mostly that’s not a noticeable problem as my contemporaries suffer similarly, but every now and then I end up somewhere and the exceptional surroundings remind me of my own inadequacy.
Without realising where I was, I ended up in the crypt of Sir John Soane’s St Peter’s Church on Walworth Road, for some consultation on Aylesbury. The consultation was the start of a process aimed at achieving a great new place, the surroundings were a reminder that everything can be exceptional, even when it’s underground.
Perhaps for balance, I spent the night in Stratford. A different reminder: just because everything can be brilliant, that doesn’t mean it will be.
Mind you, last week I had breakfast in the Brunswick Centre. It used to be pretty bad, but seems well loved now, so perhaps everything will turn out ok for Stratford, and for Aylesbury?
These people are talking about how important drawing is for designers.
Will Alsop was quite late, but was the most comfortable with an anecdote. Inspired by such high achieving company, I popped round the corner to bona fide starchitect Renzo Piano’s colourful Central St Giles. It’s not the best thing I’ve seen from Piano, but big, mixed use and see through, perhaps he was warming up for the Shard.
Listening to the engaging Jackson telling us about this community of self build homes. It’s an inspiring story about what can be achieved when housing is designed by the people who’ll live in it.
We’d like to give people more choice over what they live in without having to overcome the obstacles that these guys did. We spent the afternoon discussing how to do this in the setting of our own Hanham Hall project. A very different approach, but significantly innovative.
Appraisals are a colossal waste of everyone’s time, says Forbes magazine. Everyone gets one in HTA, except some of the board. I don’t think they should miss out, so I did one.