A lot has been written about overheating in homes recently, especially in relation to energy efficiency measures introduced under the Green Deal. The BBC quotes Prof Chris Goodier, of Loughborough University’s department of civil and building engineering, who “said the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the ‘big rush to insulate and make homes…

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The use of straw bales for building apparently originated in Nebraska, USA, following the introduction of horse and steam powered bailing machines a century or so ago. Farmers soon saw the value of using bales to built temporary shelters but, having realized their potential to stand up to the weather, they began using them to…

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Each time I write a book I say to myself “never again”. This is all very well but when a good idea comes along it’s hard to resist. Towards the end of 2010 I watched as the ink dried on my signature at the bottom of a contract for “a book provisionally entitled ‘The Old…

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The news that an online petition, Brick Lane, Not Tarmac Lane, had been launched after Tower Hamlets started resurfacing the London street, at a reported cost of £300,000, reminds us to think about what’s under our feet. The current cobbles in Brick Lane are apparently not that old but they’re an integral part of the…

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Last Sunday I witnessed regeneration in action. With a couple of hours to spare in New York I visited the High Line on Manhattan’s West Side and went for an inspiring walk with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the City’s residents. The High Line was originally constructed in the 1930s to lift dangerous freight trains off…

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Bricks are such an integral part of the architectural landscape that it’s hard to imagine building without them, but are they sustainable? Not unsurprisingly, the Brick Development Association, which represents the majority of the United Kingdom and Ireland’s clay brick and paver industries, reckons they are and has now published the Industry’s sustainability credentials in…

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A huge flow of embodied energy passes through the kitchen. This was one of the messages to emerge from a panel debate hosted by home furnishing specialist IKEA when it lunched The Future of Kitchens, a report it had commissioned from The Future Laboratory. Frustratingly, although this event happened some time ago, very little energy…

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Spending three days talking and lecturing at the National Home Improvement Show made me again realise the huge importance of getting across the message that old buildings need to ‘breathe’. Many people simply don’t understand that using the wrong materials can be an expensive mistake which may wreck their home. The way old buildings work…

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PRP architects’ Future of Retrofit event in Manchester last week brought into sharp focus the immensity of the task ahead for owners of existing homes when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions. For private homeowners and social housing providers alike, retrofitting poses more than tricky technical questions. It has the potential, quite literally, to change…

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The news that Make architects has chosen to form the facade of the University of Nottingham’s Sutton Bonington Biosciences building from modular straw bale panels is a reminder of the role crops play in the construction and finishing of buildings. Some years ago I visited Forbo’s factory in Kirkcaldy on Scotland’s east coast and saw…

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