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Sound System – the political power of music, by Dave Randall

At some point this evening the election results will be announced, and our Prime Minister will come out to do a victory speech. If previous occasions are anything to go by there will be balloons and cheering supporters, and a popular song will be ruined for everybody. A politician will give into the temptation to […]

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Open Source approaches in architecture

Last week I wrote about how open source approaches are being used in the automotive industry, helping to accelerate innovation. Today I wanted to mention that a handful of people are trying something similar in architecture. Generally speaking architecture is bespoke, expensive, and often elitist. Most of us live in fairly standard boxes. Really good […]

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Building of the week: RenovActive

I’ve been exploring the Active House idea over the last couple of weeks, explaining what it is and then looking at the first building to receive the certification. I’ve got two more posts on the subject, and today I want to look at renovating to Active House standard. This is really important, because we can’t […]

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What is biophilic design?

Consider a modern big box store: fluorescent strip lights hang from the ceiling on wires, casting a stark white light over the serried ranks of shelves. Air conditioning vents jut from a featureless grey metal roof, maintaining a constant temperature and a largely odourless environment. Beyond the first aisle, there are no windows, no views […]

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Inherit the dust

Nick Brandt creates portraits of African animals, one of those photographers whose career is a testament to profound patience. His latest series puts a twist on his usual work, placing large canvases of his photos in blighted landscapes and photographing them again. Here’s one of them, and it is well worth taking a few minutes […]

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Communicating the climate visually

A few years ago I ran a short series on communicating environmental issues visually, looking for original ideas. We all know the cliches – polar bears, melting ice, the earth from space. These images aren’t good enough. They are distant, abstract, and unengaging. They don’t suggest that climate change has anything to do with us, […]

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Five ways to build a flood proof home

With floods washing up in several parts of Britain this winter, there is a lot of discussion about how to prevent and manage floods. It’s all very political, with accusations of government bodies not doing enough or flood defences being inadequate. As usual, climate change is carefully avoided as part of the official silence on […]

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HafenCity: A city built for rising seas

Hamburg is currently the site of one of Europe’s biggest regeneration projects. A large area of redundant warehousing and port facilities is being turned into housing and office space, creating a new downtown quarter called HafenCity. It is being built to the highest environmental standards across architecture and transport. For a start, all developments have […]

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China’s climate resilient sponge cities

China has two inter-related problems when it comes to water. On the one hand, the country has major problems with urban flooding. 200 cities flooded in 2013. In some cases this is because developments were on flood plains. Sometimes whole rivers have been moved, but there are reasons why rivers form where they do and […]

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Building of the week: Bosco Verticale

I mentioned this building back in 2011 when construction had just started, and now that it’s complete, I thought it was worth featuring in detail. Bosco Verticale is the world’s first ‘vertical forest’, a pair of residential tower blocks in Milan that have been planted with hundreds of trees. They look spectacular, but the trees […]

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