The future kitchen

By Roger Hunt | November 11, 2010

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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Flooding and old buildings

By Roger Hunt | November 7, 2010

Incredibly, a YouGov survey commissioned by Landmark Information Group has revealed that, although one in four homes are at risk of flooding, 83% of homeowners don’t believe their homes are at risk. In the hope of making people more aware, Landmark – a supplier of digital mapping services, property and environmental risk information – launched…

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Researching retrofit

By Roger Hunt | October 28, 2010

Britain has the oldest housing stock in the developed world with 8.5 million properties over 60 years old. This poses huge problems when it comes to the refurbishment and retrofitting of homes to make them more energy efficient, especially as nearly half of them are ‘hard to treat’ with solid walls and/or no loft space.…

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Renovation tale – Part 5

By Roger Hunt | October 20, 2010

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… Rob and I have been digging for hours; it feels like it anyway. Actually it’s only 9.30am, and we’ve already had one tea break, a sandwich and some biscuits, but my arms and back feel as if they’ve seized up for ever.…

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Why old buildings need to breathe

By Roger Hunt | October 12, 2010

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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Testing zero carbon

By Roger Hunt | September 22, 2010

Greenwatt Way, in Slough, Berkshire, is more than a zero carbon Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 development. It’s a live testbed for, amongst other things, five different types of energy generation. This means it has an energy centre on a scale very different from what I had expected of a ten home scheme made up…

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Leaf Awards 2010

By Roger Hunt | September 13, 2010

‘Crossing borders to create excellence in architecture’ is the strap line for The Emirates Glass Leaf Awards 2010 and, at the Awards ceremony in London last Friday evening, I certainly wasn’t disappointed – the event brought together a global cross section of innovative and inspiring schemes. Represented in ten categories, winners ranged from Broadcasting Place,…

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Renovation tale – Part 4

By Roger Hunt | September 4, 2010

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… I can see daylight through the ragged hole in the roof, small wispy clouds meander across the blue sky and seagulls wheel serenely through the air. Normally I might enjoy a scene of such apparent tranquillity but it is disturbed by all…

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Learning the lifestyle

By Roger Hunt | August 24, 2010

Sustainable living has to be learnt. Even something as basic as putting out the recycling means understanding what can and cannot be recycled and which bin it must be placed in. When it comes to the home itself, things potentially become much more complicated. The most ‘eco’ home on the planet will fail to meet…

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Old buildings and television

By Roger Hunt | August 12, 2010

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially when it’s dished out to millions of viewers on primetime television and concerns old buildings. It’s all very well to say that pointing or totally rotten timber floors need to be replaced but, if words such as ‘lime mortar’ and ‘ventilation’ are not included in the voiceover,…

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Review: Green Guide for Historic Buildings

By Roger Hunt | August 5, 2010

published by The Stationery Office for the The Prince’s Regeneration Trust With retrofit now high on the agenda there’s a desperate thirst for knowledge but a huge lack of reliable information, especially when it comes to listed and historic buildings. Addressing the energy efficiency and environmental issues relating to old buildings of all types and…

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Renovation tale – Part 3

By Roger Hunt | July 30, 2010

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… It’s amazing how inanimate objects can take on such importance. I’m contemplating a cardboard box. It contains a kettle, a coffee jar, tea bags, an enormous quantity of sugar and an odd assortment of mugs which my builders, Dave and Rob, have…

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Re-cording a sash window

By Roger Hunt | July 21, 2010

Re-cording a sash window is not as difficult as many people think. Recently I did ten in quick succession at the 1900 house we’re renovating in America and, for once, remembered to take pictures of some of the stages. The job is done from inside and only requires basic tools. With big windows especially, it’s useful…

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Low carbon ventilation

By Roger Hunt | July 16, 2010

I seem to have been writing about the need for old buildings to ‘breathe’ forever but the fact is that all buildings need to have air movement within them, whatever their construction. With the emphasis now on airtight, energy efficient homes the issue is becoming ever more important, both in new build and retrofit projects,…

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Retrofit challenge

By Roger Hunt | June 18, 2010

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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Crops in construction

By Roger Hunt | June 9, 2010

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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Water, water everywhere?

By Roger Hunt | June 6, 2010

Water is a finite and vital resources yet UK water consumption has risen by 70% in the last 30 years with the average household now using more than 150 litres of water per person, per day – a third of it for flushing the toilet. Water supplies are already under stress, particularly in the south…

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Renovation tale – Part 2

By Roger Hunt | June 1, 2010

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… All night the wind and rain have slapped against the windows. Several times I stare out as lightning forks the sky, momentarily illuminating the web of telephone lines that extend glistening from their pole. Nearby my derelict old house is enduring these…

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Brooking appeal

By Roger Hunt | May 10, 2010

The first time I met Charles Brooking was on an organized walk through the Surrey countryside. In no time at all I was being ushered into a series of nondescript sheds in the garden of his parent’s house below St Martha’s Hill, near Guildford. These were no ordinary sheds full of garden accoutrements. Instead, they…

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Palpable Trust

By Roger Hunt | April 22, 2010

Lecturing last weekend for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings at Tyntesfield, on the outskirts of Bristol, I had a chance to see the National Trust at its best. At this extraordinary Victorian property – one of the last great Gothic Revival country estates to survive – there is none of the stuffy,…

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Eco essay

By Roger Hunt | April 19, 2010

One of the magazines I write for is Show House and this month it’s published EcoHouse, a supplement sponsored by what Although aimed at housebuilders, the eco essay I’ve written for EcoHouse will resonate with many who are considering the issues associated with ‘green’ housing and communities so, with permission, I’ve posted it here.

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Awarding brick

By Roger Hunt | April 11, 2010

In the wrong hands bricks are bland and boring and contribute to a barren, soul-sapping built environment. What I saw in Vienna last week was brick at its most inspirational. Wienerberger, the world’s largest brick producer, was handing out its Brick Award 2010. This was a celebration of brick at its best – a splendid combination…

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Renovation tale – Part 1

By Roger Hunt | April 5, 2010

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… On the table is the surveyor’s report; yellow Post-it notes stick from its pages in such profusion that they no longer have any relevance. Phrases like “needs attention”, “must be thoroughly overhauled” and “a fair amount of dampness” are highlighted by marker…

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Solar confusion

By Roger Hunt | March 23, 2010

Do you know the difference between solar thermal and solar photovoltaic panels? Having just written a piece on solar photovoltaics, I’ve realised that many people who oughts to know better simply don’t have a clue. At best they understand that these systems are something to do with renewable energy. This is particularly worrying because on…

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