The UK’s five worst public art projects

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Tracey Emin Roman StandardThat is obviously a misleading headline. The two worst public art projects in recent memory are evidently the Diana Memorial Fountain, which wasn’t much of a fountain never mind a memorial, and B of the Bang, Thomas Heatherwick’s glorious but spike-shedding testament to the then eternally popping dreams of Manchester City fans from 2005. But we all know about them, their failures were primarily functional rather than aesthetic, both are now defunct and they’ve got more than enough stiff competition thanks to the enduring desire of companies and councils up and down the land to make a statement in our public places with little regard for aesthetics or practicality.

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Landmark buildings can lead to an identity crisis for tenants

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A new generation of landmarks

A new generation of landmarks

Companies want to brand themselves in lots of ways and for lots of reasons. There are all the usual reasons to do with marketing but when companies talk about brand and how it is integrated with architecture and the design of their offices they are equally likely to be concerned with attracting staff and making what they think are the right statements about their business. The problem is that while nearly everybody wants to brand their workplace, the design solutions can become overly literal. There’s nothing inherently wrong with logos in the carpet but successful design will be about far more than that. It usually has to be rather less literal and rather more intelligent.

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‘Internet of everything’ for most firms within 3 years

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Cisco techwatch

Next generation workspaces will be a reality for three quarters (76 per cent) of businesses by 2016 says a new Cisco report, as organisations pave the way for greater connectivity by investing in IT infrastructure and collaboration technologies. “Whilst cost-cutting and reducing complexity is important, creating an environment where IT can support – or indeed drive – innovation within the business is paramount said Ian Foddering, CTO Cisco UKI. “Three key pillars emerge: ‘Simplify’, ‘Protect’ and ‘Change & Grow’. Get the first two right, and you pave the way for innovation, greater connectivity, next generation workspaces and ultimately a shift towards the ‘Internet of Everything’.”

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Video: The greening of the workplace should begin with individual behaviour

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[embedplusvideo height=”160″ width=”225″ standard=”https://www.youtube.com/v/audakxABYUc?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=audakxABYUc&width=290&height=191&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=0&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep9359″ /]

There is an understandable temptation when we consider the ways in which we might green our buildings and organisations that we focus primarily on designed and engineered solutions. But as this blog on Greenbiz points out, we can achieve a great deal by looking at the behaviour of individuals. It is a point made in an entertaining way by my favourite TED Talk of all time, delivered by  Rory Sutherland (above). It’s fair to say that if he were to consider ways in which to change the behaviour of individuals, the printed note above the photocopier and the label on the light switch wouldn’t display enough innovative thought for him.

Plans unveiled to transform Southbank Centre Festival Wing

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Southbank

London’s Southbank Centre, the UK’s largest arts centre, has unveiled plans to transform the Festival Wing – the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery complex. The proposals, by FCBStudios, include the refurbishment and renewal of the existing 1960s buildings and the creation of major new arts spaces including a new glass pavilion, a new central foyer and a new liner building to create, together with the successful Royal Festival Hall refurbishment, a world-class cultural centre for the 21st century, providing more art for more people in better spaces. More →

Buying green products should involve a closer look at the supply chain

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Green chainLast year’s unrest in the Chinese factory that is a principal manufacturer of the iPhone5 shone a light into one of the usually dark corners of modern life. Namely that beneath the sleek facades of the products we buy lies the story of their production, transportation, marketing and eventual demise. Look further back than the factory and it usually starts with a hole in the ground; and, in the case of the iPhone, an open-cast rare earth mine in the Nevada desert which produces the raw materials for the cutting edge technologies that make our lives tick.

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Challenge for Ecobuild is reducing greenwash and white noise

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White noiseToday is the first day of Ecobuild, which claims to be the world’s largest exhibition dedicated to sustainable construction and fit-out. Some 1,500 organisations are taking part in the event in East London which last year attracted 58,000 visitors from around the world. While undoubtedly successful, influential, with great intellectual content and a showcase for some truly innovative and effective products, the approach of Ecobuild invariably begs the question: in a world in which every supplier claims to be environmentally friendly, how are their customers expected to make the right choices?

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Dull workplaces can hamper creativity, claims new report

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Broken light bulbA new report from London based fit-out company Overbury claims that dull and demotivating workplaces are holding back creativity in UK organisations. The study of 2,000 employees from across the UK, found that although staff consider idea generation crucial to their employer’s performance, many feel unable to work creatively together in their offices. Between half and two thirds of employees (59%) state that the development of new ideas is vital to their organisation. However, many respondents also stated that their working environment is thwarting creativity,with the majority (52%) of UK offices lacking common or social areas.

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Google and Yahoo office strategies teach us the value of the velvet glove

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Velvet gloveIt’s a week now since the whole Yahoo-ha kicked off and since that time everybody has had their say on the matter including – refreshingly – those in the mainstream media. The story has followed its own narrative arc, from the initial gasps of horror at Yahoo’s audacious challenge to a cherished piece of contemporary received wisdom (coupled with the reminder that Yahoo still exists) to something more thoughtful and circumspect as we learned more about the thinking behind the decision.What has become apparent is that Yahoo’s actions were based on a tacit understanding that people work better on certain tasks when they are together.

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Widespread adoption of BIM moves closer

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BIM_3D_prototype_-_Modus

The widespread adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in architecture, design and construction has moved closer with the publication by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) yesterday of the BIM Protocol, a legal framework for BIM projects. The use of BIM as a collaborative way of working that utilises digital technologies for more efficient methods of designing, creating and maintaining properties has been described as a game-changing ICT and cultural process for the built environment, with the Government’s intention to require collaborative 3D BIM on all its projects by 2016

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Yahoo case doesn’t tell the whole story of teleworking

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Yahoo! Sunnyvale headquarters.  October 28, 2001 (Y! Photo / Brian McGuiness)Yahoo! made headlines across the US and the rest of the world this week by announcing they are terminating the company’s telework program.  Does this signal, broadly, the pending demise of telework?  Here’s my take: this story is actually deeper than just about telework. Yahoo! has been wandering around aimlessly for a number of years, and it would appear that this particular measure is intended as some overdue shock therapy to jump-start a much needed culture shift and focus on what the company needs to survive in a world of rapid innovation and “big bang disruption” (see March 2013 HBR article by Larry Downes and Paul F. Nunes).

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Workplace Anachronisms: No. 1 – the BCO Specification Guide

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Boy Wearing Men's Dress Shoes and Suit --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisThe British Council for Offices claims that it is ‘Britain’s leading forum for the discussion and debate of issues affecting the office sector. Its members are organisations involved in creating, acquiring or occupying office space, whether architects, lawyers, surveyors, financial institutions or public agencies.’ If true, this makes its Specification Guide all the more remarkable for not only being wide of the mark about at least one key issue when it was published back in 2009, but about which it is growing increasingly redundant by the day.

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