Leading the way and starting the 2021 Takeover was David Johnson. David is a Director of GLM and one of the team’s Architects. He has been at GLM for almost 24 years and has seen lots change in that time so his ‘World of the Future’ is likely to reflect these learnings. Connect with David on LinkedIn to stay up to date with some of what he is working on in present!
- (Image : Above, Centre) Here’s one of the original US patents for the Thermos Flask granted in December 1907. The basic idea has changed little in the last 100 years. Vacuum flasks use a double-walled container, with a vacuum between the walls, to stop heat loss.
Can the same idea be implemented in buildings?
The vacuum is such an effective insulate, vastly more efficient than modern insulation materials. Maybe in 10 years’ time, we will still have cavity walls, but instead of the cavity being filled with insulation, they will be filled with nothing! Absolutely nothing. A vacuum doesn’t have to be that wide too, thus minimising wall thicknesses and maximising floor space.
- (Image : Above, Right) Who remembers Wrapping the Reichstag by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1995?
The building was wrapped for 2 weeks in 100,000 square meters of silver fabric draped over the building and fastened with blue rope.
Whilst this was simply an artistic exercise, I wonder if in the future, poorly insulated existing buildings could be wrapped during the winter months to prevent heat loss in the same way we wear extra layers of clothing to keep warm?
- (Image : Below, Left) Heat people, not buildings.
That statement is not entirely correct as buildings do need some degree of heat (around 15degC) in order to stop them deteriorating. However, it is true that people feel the need to be warmer, somewhere in the region of 18-22degC depending on personal preference.
As our use of energy comes under closer scrutiny and in particular wasted energy, I can quite easily see us adopting a method of keeping warm, used successfully by our ancestors. Maybe not a thick woolly jumper but certainly additional layers of thermally efficient clothing. This gives much more direct control, right where its needed and where each person in a room feels just right no matter the air temperature.
If putting a jumper on is what it will take to stop climate change then I’m up for it. Even one knitted by my mum.
- (Image : Above, Centre) In 2002 I had the great privilege of visiting Rwanda which in part involved building houses. I was struck by two things that I think we can learn from.
Firstly, apart from the roofing material which was corrugated steel, the other main building materials were sourced from no further than 200m from site. The wood, mud and water were there on the doorstep. Close to Net Zero. How far do materials travel for a building in the UK?
Secondly the building of homes was a community affair. When a couple get married and need a home or have children and need somewhere bigger, the whole neighbourhood gets involved and wants to help.
Hopefully future construction in the UK will involve more locally sourced materials and locally sourced involvement.
- (Image : Above, Right) Building regulations within the UK have been around from the 1200’s with much of the focus, as it is today, on the spread of fire.
The Fire of London in 1966 saw regulations introduced in 1967, the first to involve surveyors to inspect work. By the 18th century some variance of building control had been established in many British cities.
After Edinburgh suffered a series of fires, an Act of the City Council in 1674 gave the local court authority to enforce new building regulations, ratified in 1698 by an Act of the Scottish Parliament. Among other things it restricted buildings to five storeys.
Building regulations and the method for processing applications has continued to evolve over the centuries as technologies and communities evolve and standards of living improve. Within my time at GLM we have seen applications move from the submission of 3 sets of paper copies of drawings, including a set on durable plastic paper, to digital online submissions.
If I were to predict the future, by the time I retire I would expect mainstream CAD software to have a tool to verify designs against the relevant building regulations so that the process is entirely self-certified by the designer! What do you think might change for building regulations in the next 10 years?
- (Image : Below, Left) Digital advertising has been around for decades. Piccadilly Circus in London is a classic example. Regardless of the building, any image can be projected to the watching world.
I wonder if in the future, all buildings will simply be clad with some kind of digital display (that also acts as a solar panel) where the projected image is not advertising but an architectural style in much the same way as scaffolding hoardings are currently employed. One day a Georgian Townhouse the next a minimalist cube. Style would no longer be a consideration when buying a property as you could simply programme the façade to your exact personal preference. You could even make the building completely camouflaged!
- (Image : Above, Centre) House with Roots by Jerry Uelsmann if real, would probably be the holy grail of sustainable architectural design.
A building that takes all it needs to grow and develop, from the nutrients in the ground. We are already harnessing the sun and wind for the servicing of our buildings. I wonder how long it will be before we really do put down roots at home?
- (Image : Above, Right) Is this a building or a boat?
With the anticipated rises in sea level over the coming decades I expect us to be seeing a lot more of these as places to live and work, especially in low lying areas. What a great opportunity for new imaginative architectural styles to be established and evolve. And just think, if you get fed up with your next-door neighbour, lift anchor and plot course for somewhere more pleasant.
- (Image : Above, Left) Circles and spheres fascinate me.
I loved exploring the unique geometry of them in A Level Maths. A sphere for instance has the lowest surface area to volume ratio off all 3D objects.
This is born out in nature when you consider rain droplets and how they work. When it comes to designing energy efficient buildings, surface area to volume is an important factor to control and keep to a minimum. Spheres are also structurally efficient. Consider the egg (not quite a sphere I know) which despite its wafer thin shell is almost impossible to break when squeezed between two fingers along its axis.
We don’t see many spherical buildings for obvious practical reasons although geodesic domes come close. I wonder if in the future, we will see the unique efficient properties of the wonderful sphere come into play.
- (Image : Above, Centre) Let’s be controversial for my final post of the week. Homelessness is something we all want to see disappear in the future and the sooner the better. In a civilised society everyone deserves a roof over their heads – no questions asked, and no judgements made if they can’t afford it just now. How about the government introduce a tax which is calculated on the number of days a property is habitable but unoccupied (there seems to plenty around) with the money going towards affordable homes and sustainable communities? A £1 a day for every unoccupied property could see at least £1/2billion raised each year if my maths is correct.
Head over to our Instagram – @weareglm – and follow along as Neil Dickson (Image : Above, Right) takes over Week 2!