15 March 2013

Never mind the stalls, it's the people that matter

Overdue Ecobuild reviews by Kate and Fran

Last week's Ecobuild was an interesting few days. Fran's discussion of the use of natural materials in retrofit demonstrated that a more thoughtful choice of material and method creates a tailored approach which is far more successful. Fran was joined by Mark Elton of ECD Architects whose Wilmcote House is a nice example of resident inclusive retrofit design. However he also showed some worrying photos revealing the implications of rushed retrofits and ignorant funding schemes. Also of note was Francine Houben of Mecanoo Architecten with her inspiring account of their approach to sustainable public spaces, a culturally challenging debate on retirement co-housing, and some well attended PassivHaus seminars.
Kate, Part I at ATA

Ecobuild its usual self, in that the pleasure is all in the people - those I hoped to see, and the unexpected and joyful meetings. Star of the show for me was Sabine Leribaux, of Architectes AssociĆ©s who designed Aeropolis, 'the largest operational passive energy building in Brussels' who spoke at the Passivhaus evening celebration. She talked about 'freedom and human rights'  arguing for our responsibility for global sustainability and the ethical choice we make as building professionals. This was a world away from techno discussions about thermal bridging and air tightness, and a wonderfully sane and lucid talk.

Of course I think thermal bridging and airtightness detailing are are both essential -  and gripping subject matter, and was talikng about them myself at the seminar on 'What can we afford to spend on our existing buildings'.  Mark Elton make a powerful case 'can we afford NOT to'.  Seminars were lively, and discussions varied - never mind the stalls, it's the people that matter!

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