Tag Archives: sustainability

Long life, loose fit

by James Goodfellow

‘The circular economy’ is a phrase that’s thankfully becoming increasingly well known within the built environment industry, but sadly one that seems to be taking much longer to action in a meaningful way. The concept of course is about reducing our reliance on raw materials, minimising waste, and maximising the longevity of the final product to get as long a life from it as possible before recycling the materials for use again. Essentially, it looks to replace the ‘Take, Make, Dispose’ linear economy that has dominated our culture for so long with a ‘Maintain, Reuse and Recycle’ circular one.

Linear economy

For us it’s quite simple. We try look at it as a ‘Long Life, Loose Fit’ approach. We see it as trying to get as much from a building and the process of constructing it as possible. This applies not only to the lifetime of the building itself but also to the materials used to construct it.

Circular economy

We as architects approach the circular economy at four levels, asking ourselves key questions at the start of the design process:

Firstly, at the very centre is the building. Can we maintain or repair an existing structure?
 Small changes to the way we design buildings now will help enormously later when buildings are broken down and recycled.

Circular economy - Building (c) Make

Take our 55 Baker Street project, in which the 1950s building was considered to be at the end of its life. We proposed retaining the existing structure, and we were able to keep over 70% of the concrete frame and 50% of the existing fabric. Internally, the soffits of the concrete slabs were exposed to provide thermal mass, and bespoke chilled beams were hung from the concrete ceilings to provide cooling. Externally, the cladding was upgraded to meet the highest standards through improved thermal and solar performance.

55 Baker Street construction

55 Baker Street

This brought the existing building up to modern-day standards and provided renewed life to a building that would have otherwise been demolished.

Circular economy - components

Next we assess the components. Could we reuse or redistribute parts of the current fabric, or can we introduce modular or prefabricated construction? Like Meccano, a much-loved childhood toy, what can be reused or changed? How can we make the most of different pieces of kit? At our Pure Hammersmith site, we used prefabricated units manufactured off-site and inserted a finished product into the building structure.

 

We can now design in a way that allows components to be removed or deconstructed in the future and reconditioned for use again.

Circular economy - elements

Thirdly, we analyse the elements. Can we use reclaimed or refurbished elements? And how can we optimise materials or bring repetition to our design to enhance what we have? With 5 Broadgate we optimised the size of the cladding panels to work within standard stainless steel coil widths, which minimised waste through offcuts.

Circular economy - materials

Finally, we consider the materials we use. This is really interesting for Make and something we embrace passionately. What is the recycled content of the materials we specify? What could it be? And what is their durability? The Copper Box was one of the few legacy buildings at the 2012 London Olympics, and we are now enormously proud to see this world-class sporting facility open to the community. The cladding has 70% recycled content, and you can see how it’s changing naturally over time, adding further intrigue to the building.

Copper Box

One day, all this copper will be rolled up and reused somewhere else. And that gives us enormous pride too.

5 Broadgate cladding

With 5 Broadgate we analysed all the components within the building, and when selecting materials considered the recycled content as part of the selection process. We then tracked all these elements through procurement and construction, enabling us to establish that 38.64% of total material value derives from reused and recycled content. By undertaking this study, we now have a benchmark to compare future projects against as we strive continue to take make further improvements.

 

So that’s four layers, each of which gives us the opportunity to maintain, reuse and recycle, and ensure a ‘Long Life, Loose Fit’ approach. The ultimate aim of course is to create a new generation of flexible buildings that extends the life of its constituents and that one day will be completely recyclable – something we believe is becoming increasingly plausible if we all embrace a circular economy.

Circular economy

 

 

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Future of architecture – Gavin Mullan

We asked ten architects – each of whom joined Make in a different year since 2004 – to write about how they see architecture and the built environment changing over the next ten years. Here is last instalment in the series, from Make partner Gavin.

Gavin Mullan
Gavin Mullan
Make Partner since 2013

I see the industry today as being at a critical point of opportunity. As a student architect I am only too aware of the amount of education it takes to become even an average architect these days. I think young architects today need to listen to experienced, much wiser architects who have seen successes and failures, but we also need to establish a style for this era! I see this as including a much more energy-efficient approach. Solar energy is becoming a huge part of everything architects are involved in today. If this industry grabs all the potential solar power possesses, as well as other natural resources, we can inspire the world to become more green and totally energy efficient. My generation of architects can really set a new style and a new standard of architecture for years to come; if we put our heads together we can come up with something exquisite.

Will the car be here in ten years? Today’s streets have the same structure as those of thousands of years ago, when pedestrians and transportation coexisted. Vehicles of today and tomorrow need high-speed routes, while walkers need quiet itineraries. I’m interested in reduced dependency on the car and how the roadway could become detached from the pavement, like urban railways, and how architecture and urbanism could deconstruct the street corridor as we know it today.

On a different note, what also excites me about the next ten years is the unforeseen potential for there to be a discovery that fundamentally changes the way we all approach architecture and design. I see the seemingly exponential development of technology sparking demand for a new building type, fuelled by a new generation of architects. Vernacular will fundamentally change for good.

gavin-mullan-quote-v2

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The importance of post-occupancy evaluation for our future built environment

“As architects, we should care as much about our buildings after delivery as we do before.”
By Hannelore Christiaens

Many architects see the handover of a building as the final stage of their involvement in a project. At Make however, we believe that architects should not stop caring about their building at the point of delivery. Ironically, it is precisely after this point that some of the most valuable lessons about architecture and design can be learnt. An honest reflection is therefore a must: Are the users satisfied with the building? Is the building performing as well as intended? The collection of qualitative and quantitative research methods employed to answer these questions is called post-occupancy evaluation or POE, and Make has been doing this for their built projects wherever possible.

Why?

Why would an architect start from tabula rasa for each design? Verifying if a building is, indeed, working as intended would be a major contribution to an enhanced design process. The result of doing a POE can only be positive: true successes can be recognised and repeated in the future, and if certain aspects of a building do not meet expectations or if innovations are missing their targets, these will be revealed. Collecting knowledge from several projects can lead to a better understanding of comfort in general, and a better thesis to begin with once a new design project has to be initiated. Every POE will produce a particular fragment of information and by carrying out these evaluations repeatedly, this fragmented knowledge will become more and more coherent.

Lessons learnt

Project cycle

Therefore, it is not only important to have a client or user heavily involved in the design process before construction, but also for the designer to be involved with the user experience after construction, which is a phase where architects are usually left out.

Relationship between client and design team

User and design process

Practically, the lessons learnt from post-occupancy evaluations on a project can then be utilised to bring about change for that particular project and to inform future design in the following ways:

  • Intervention design: altering aspects of the building that can be changed relatively easily to increase user satisfaction (short term)
  • Renovation design: using more appropriate space divisions, materials, systems and building skins when renovating the building (medium term)
  • Future building design: problems that can’t be resolved in the current building should be avoided in future projects (long term)

POE and sustainability

POE is especially important in sustainable architecture, where it serves as a hypothesis testing for innovative projects by testing and monitoring them after completion.

Innovation and new techniques can bring unintended consequences, so it is important to see which projects are moving in the right direction.

Sustainable buildings are not just about one way of construction or combining a few techniques, we have to understand the effectiveness of sustainable design strategies in relation to context, climate, scale, type of use, user, client and city. POE can reveal why a certain technique works well on one project but fails on another by surveying actual performance, any improper usage which can cancel out environmental goals and the social and psychological effects of a building on its users. This will lead to even more successful designs with a high level of comfort. Newly built environment will therefore progressively perform better than those preceding them.

Existing standards and methods

Many kinds of POEs already exist, although they are not often used. There is not a single method which is the absolute standard, and making one ideal POE is not possible due to the unique nature of every individual project.

This adds to the complexity of implementing POEs. Quantitative and qualitative POEs, or hybrids, have been developed, covering different lifespans, techniques and processes (e.g. the Portfolio Technique incl. Probe, Soft Landings) and there are several ways of sharing knowledge (e.g. CarbonBuzz). For the projects here at Make that have been evaluated, the techniques were assessed and the appropriate method used for each case.

Cost

One of the main reasons why POE is not yet widely implemented is due to the cost. Over the long term, however, and when POE is well implemented, the benefits can be huge and definitely larger than the initial costs. A study has found the following: ‘The Construction Engineering Research Laboratory did a cost-benefit study: they found that for every dollar spent on POEs, they saved ten dollars on operating and redesign costs.’ Research Design Connections (2003)

Summary

The knowledge of how users experience a building after its delivery is an important yet often neglected source of information for architects, which stands in stark contrast to the level of interest and hard work that the architect puts into understanding the needs of the future users in the design process. POE provides this feedback and, no matter which stage of its lifecycle a building is in, the results will always be useful.

Figuratively, POE replaces the ‘blank sheet’ of the architect with transparent paper which is placed over experience, knowledge and previous successes, from which the appropriate lines can be copied. New insights are used for fine tuning new buildings, improving design for future buildings, and renovating existing buildings, leading to cost savings and a better user experience in healthy and comfortable environments.

Therefore, the sooner implementation becomes universal, the sooner the benefits will be reaped as POE takes on an increasing and, ultimately, indispensable role in the building process in the future.

Notes
Blog post based on: CHRISTIAENS, H., “Implementing post occupancy evaluation into common sustainable design practice – a reflection”, The University of Edinburgh, 2012; and sources referenced to in this paper.
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Bricks – not just for house builders

by David Patterson

Lightweight materials such as glass and steel are very much de rigeur (think of any of the recent BCO winner and they’ll most likely have predilection for one of the two), but the humble brick is having a quiet revival, particularly here at Make, as its sense of permanence, of durability, of tradition can not be beaten.

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

The BRE’s latest Green Guide to Specification has assigned the highest possible accreditation, A+, to every external wall it rated that contained brickwork. Bricks thermal mass capabilities are superb. And in a 2007 investigation by RICS brickwork beat just about every other external skin option on price.[1] As the preserve of the volume house builder for decades that last fact may not come as a surprise, but at Make, we have been keen to understand how bricks can be used in a building where design and function do not have to be mutually exclusive. We’ve been researching this material, talking to colleagues and visiting manufacturers in order to develop our knowledge of brick and further understand its potential.

We’ve been exploring how brick can be used on the Amenities Building project for the University of Nottingham – a bar and dining hall on their agricultural campus that has to be robust and sustainable. We looked at how the appearance of brick can be used to create a warm and welcoming environment, both internally and externally.  In addition we considered how it can be used to form efficient service voids within the wall structure and by manipulating the bond in order to achieve calm acoustic environments. We spent time with our client visiting UK brick manufacturers and constructing sample walls on site to evaluate the materials in context.

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

For Taberner House in Croydon, we’re working closely with Arup Materials and are considering innovative options for brickwork.  It is our aspiration to make the brickwork ‘earn its keep’ by contributing to the structural performance of the building rather than the conventional approach of brick as a cladding material.  This presents significant challenges as very few modern buildings have been built utilising a structural brickwork approach.

One thing I’ve noticed while working on these two projects is that the UK’s brick tradition is in danger of being lost as the large conglomerates buy up the smaller firms. There are some fine examples of design-led brick buildings in this country, now there needs to be a focus on the product and process to entice more architects to convert.

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.brick.org.uk/about-the-brick-development-association/why-brick/

You can follow David on Twitter: @DavidGP72

Or find out more about each project on our website: The Amenities Building, Taberner House

 

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The future of architecture – Matthew Bugg

We asked ten architects – each of whom joined Make in a different year since 2004 – to write about how they see architecture and the built environment changing over the next ten years. Here is Matt’s response.

Matthew Bugg
Matthew Bugg
Make Partner since 2007

I predict more intensive studies of materials and construction methods throughout the design of commercial buildings over the next decade. This is already happening on our 5 Broadgate project, where extensive material research has driven energy performance targets. Energy use will continue to drive design and this will be coupled by expanding research through education. BIM (Building Information Modelling) will allow materials and construction methodologies to be harnessed alongside costs, to further inform our clients earlier in the design process. Rapid design iterations will become the norm.

Matt pull quote

I also see social networking tools becoming prevalent in connecting architects with new clients and maintaining relationships with the best collaborators. These tools, which will become part of a designer’s daily work, will also help to make new connections and relationships which may not have previously come about. The globalisation of ideas has already ignited a new thinking structure based on these rapidly evolving social networks.

Physical architecture will be able to adapt to these new networks by harnessing micro-technologies. Small computers like the Raspberry Pi released this year could be embedded in architectural components, to record performance but also to communicate with other components – and perhaps even other buildings. There will be a lot more work ‘on the go’ and whether software or hardware, both will develop to place us in the best location for the design task.

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Safer streets for all

In just one two-week period late last year, six people lost their lives while cycling through London’s streets. In addition to the inevitable questions about safety and the calls for quick, preventative action, there is also a need to ask how we plan to support moves towards more sustainable transport options in the long term.

Bicycle

The networks that connect communities underpin the work that we, as architects, do to create buildings, streets and spaces that are fit for tomorrow. People should feel as if they can move through a city with ease and comfort and an holistic approach to infrastructure planning is needed to bring this ambition to life.

Through good design we can remove the need for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians to jostle for position on our roads and make getting from A to B much less challenging that it often is now. After decades spent accommodating more and more motor vehicles, we’re now returning to a time of putting people first.

London’s complex mix of the old and the new gives us the ideal opportunity to achieve this. High streets that have been redesigned to force cars to move more slowly and allow pedestrians to move around safely attract shoppers and visitors and create places for people to meet. Oxford Circus, for example, has been transformed through the removal of clutter from the pavements and by introducing clear routes and crossings for people.

Regeneration schemes, such as the Heygate Estate at Elephant & Castle, promise wider reaching benefits. The scheme aims to reconnect communities that have suffered because of past errors which left them isolated from their surroundings, and shift the balance away from a dependence on vehicles. Instead, the focus is on the benefits that can be derived from having easy access to an integrated public transport network and open spaces that encourage social interaction. Walking and cycling are promoted through the provision of appropriate facilities and safe, family-friendly cycling lanes.

There are no easy answers to the challenges we face as we move towards more sustainable transport options and the infrastructure needed to support them. And of course, we’ll only find solutions if we work with local communities to understand the issues. However, I believe the one area that requires consistency is our collective commitment to high quality design. This is something that Sir Terry Farrell is looking into as part of his review of architecture and the built environment in England. His findings are expected shortly and I would welcome any recommendations that help us break down barriers in communities and connect people quickly, safely and sustainably.

Originally posted on Ken Shuttleworth's Building magazine column.

Bicycles

   People

 










Images: Rebecca Morrison and David Hunter
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Responsible resourcing should be an integral part of every project

An independently verifiable procurement process will make us more accountable for the products we supply, specify or use

Earlier this year one of our architects, James Goodfellow, took part in a panel seminar at EcoBuild to discuss responsible sourcing, a topic which is quite rightly creeping up the agenda of many architects and is something we at Make are very focused on, especially for our 5 Broadgate project on behalf of British Land. (see James’ earlier blog post)

It requires the holistic examination of the product and the supply chain so that one is fully conscious of whether they meet environmental, social and economic requirements; from extraction, through processing and supply, right to the specification and ultimate re-use or disposal of the product.

There is no doubt that truly responsible sourcing can be a minefield. Essentially it requires the entire procurement process to be verifiable through independent sources, much like you find with FSC timber or fairtrade. The publication of the BES-6001 standard promotes responsible sourcing and provides clear guidance on the framework and governance that is required to ensure that the environmental and social aspects are addressed.

Likewise in the manufacturing process, the wellbeing of employees and the release of pollutants has to be considered. These issues are further compounded by long supply chains; the complexities for smaller enterprises in trying to meet assessment criteria and perhaps most importantly of all, creating standards that are internationally acknowledged.

A number of architects, suppliers and contractors are already leading the march on responsible sourcing, and there is increasing pressure from clients, the government and indeed the consumer public, for all of us to demand traceability and be more accountable for the products we supply, specify and use.

Responsible sourcing is something that should be embedded into the design process from the offset and the fact that BRE and British Standards have developed their own frameworks for governance can only be applauded.  But we should continue to demand that more products, and their associated supply chains are evaluated to meet these standards, for as Sarah Cary, sustainable development executive at British Land, said at the EcoBuild responsible sourcing seminar: “There’s nothing like a horsemeat scandal to get us all interested in where things come from.”  We all have a duty to be accountable for the product and its procurement to determine whether it is acceptable.  Frankly it is time responsible sourcing became an integral part of every construction project and procurement process.

Originally posted on Ken Shuttleworth's Building magazine column. 
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Responsible sourcing starts with design

by James Goodfellow

“There’s nothing like a horsemeat scandal to get us all interested in where things come from”, said Sarah Cary, sustainable development executive at British Land, when she introduced the responsible sourcing seminar at this year’s Ecobuild.

Too true.

Responsible sourcing is not a new concept at all, although it is still relatively new in the construction industry. Understanding where the products and materials we specify come from and what their impact is on the environment is so important that we must obtain an understanding of their traceability through the supply chain. It’s time that responsible sourcing became the big topic and was an integral part of every construction project.

What is responsible sourcing?

Responsible sourcing is a holistic approach to the way in which building products and construction materials are extracted, processed, supplied and used on site. It also takes into account the way materials can be re-used, recycled or disposed of when they reach they end of their lifecycle.

It requires the examination of a product and its supplier and whether they meet certain sustainability, environmental, social and economic requirements.

Why is it important?

Construction projects are one of the biggest drains on our world’s resources. From the materials we extract from the earth to the carbon emissions released during construction to the final energy requirements of the completed building. It is vital that each project makes as little negative impact on the environment as possible; benefits the communities involved in the production or supply of materials; and meets certain health, safety and quality standards so as to improve the life of the building and those using it.

Make’s approach to responsible sourcing in design

The Gateway Building is a biosciences research facility for the University of Nottingham. 5 Broadgate is the new London corporate headquarters for financial services company UBS.  These two buildings could not be more different in size, scale, use, location and requirements; however where they converge is in how best practice was ensured throughout the design process.

The Gateway Building, University of Nottingham

The Gateway Building, University of Nottingham

The materials used in The Gateway Building’s cladding reflect the campus’s agriculture heritage by bringing together three sustainable materials: wood, straw and render. Local sourcing was key in procuring the materials with the aim of not only reducing embodied carbon through transportation but also bringing employment to the local community.

Locally sourced materials for The Gateway Building

Locally sourced materials for The Gateway Building

Being an agricultural campus the straw was locally produced by the university on their neighbouring fields. A pop-up factory was then set up in a barn less than five miles from the site where the timber, straw and render were prefabricated into 14m long cassettes.  This meant the materials were assembled in a controlled environment that was extremely close to both the source of the materials and the construction site. The windows were also sourced and fabricated down the road less than 10 miles from the site.

5 Broadgate on the other hand is a large office block in the heart of the City of London. High sustainability targets have been set for the project by both the occupier, UBS and the developers, British Land.

5 Broadgate, London, UK

5 Broadgate, London, UK

Supply chain interrogation helped us make informed design decisions early on and assisted in the sustainable procurement of materials. We looked at every component specified within the building, comparing the sustainability criteria for different options including their embodied energy and recycled content. For example, these decisions meant we were able to mitigate 360 tons in CO2 equivalents on the façade alone.

Life cycle comparison of materials for 5 Broadgate

Life cycle comparison of materials for 5 Broadgate

We further defined our sustainability requirements during the tender process by producing specific sustainability requirements for all potential contractors. They were required to confirm and demonstrate compliance at tender stage and offer improvements where possible. We’ve found that it is easier to get data from suppliers at tender stage while they are keen for the job rather than after they are appointed!

Once appointed we continue to work with the supply chain to maximise material optimisation and minimise wastage as the design develops. We also work with the contractors to find further ways to minimise transportation and carbon emissions during production and this is being monitored on a project wide basis.

Summary

Two very different projects with different briefs and different opportunities. But by placing sustainability at the heart of the decision-making process and putting a strong focus on material research and supply chain interrogation, we made informed decisions that ensured the buildings were responsibly sourced.

As Derek Hughes, responsible sourcing scheme manager at BRE Global so aptly put it: “We’re all used to seeing fair trade in our coffee, but why not fair trade in our concrete?”

Notes
James Goodfellow recently presented ‘Responsible sourcing – the design process’ at Ecobuild 2013. You can download James’s presentation from the Ecobuild website or follow him on Twitter: @jamesgoodfellow 
Sarah Cary works with British Land’s project teams to drive sustainable design, responsible construction and ethical procurement. Read Sarah’s blog or follow her on Twitter: @sarahcary 
 
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New Beginnings

by Chris Luebkeman

As I reflect on my year, I am struck by the rapidly increasing complexity of the world in which we live. 2011 was a year of extremes and I can only imagine that 2012 will continue this trend. Change is constant, but the context of that change is variable.

These extremes were seen across all of our social, technological, economic, environmental and political systems and have global, regional and local implications which frankly seem daunting to face. Yet this is a rare circumstance in which we find ourselves – we are confronting significant global challenges to which we actually have ready solutions which need not be extreme. Solutions that could, can, and need to be acted upon at both an individual and a professional level.

It seems to me that the biggest barrier to action is overcoming the inertia of the ways things have ‘always been’ and the debilitating paralysis precluding action which seems to pervade every level of society. The time for endless discussion and debate truly has passed. It is now time for action. It is time for each of us to commit ourselves to a year of action; to make the changes that set us upon the path of being active participants in sustainable communities and sustainable futures.

Read the full article >

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