Marine Court, St. Leonards-on-Sea

Marine Court, St. Leonards-on-Sea
... along the prom ...

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Things Men Do with Ladders; Number 17

If the example of this genre that I posted on 11 January is impressive and quite ingenious, this one is quite mad. Ok, it seems to be working, except that he's almost standing on tiptoe because he's still not high enough up to reach whatever the hell it is that he's trying to do. And what happened the minute after the photographer left?


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Full Gasometer

Here's the complete text of my article on Gasometers

Gasometer; The Rise and Fall of an Industrial Icon.

Is there a gasometer near you? If there is, take a few photographs for posterity because this iconic part of our industrial heritage won't be around for much longer. They were ubiquitous up until the 1960’s; nearly every UK town had its own gasworks, providing reassuring views of the accompanying gasometer as it rose and fell almost mysteriously in the middle distance. We were all very used to them, so their slow demise has hardly registered. Most stopped rising and falling from the introduction of North Sea Gas onward and today, gas arrives from elsewhere, coming ashore from the North Sea or across from Europe to arrive at one of seven UK processing terminals such as the one at Bacton in Norfolk. A few gasometers still rise and fall, but now they are simply used for temporarily balancing the system, not for providing the local gas supply.

This rather elegant lattice structure is part of Huddersfield's column-guided gasometer (or gas-holder), a familiar sight near the town centre just off the Leeds Road. Any fan who has ever ever attended a match starring either the Huddersfield Giants or Huddersfield Town F.C. and tried to locate the John Smith (formerly the Galpharm) Stadium will have either used the gasometer as a landmark to find their way, or parked in its shadow.

Strictly speaking this is the structure which supports the telescopic gas holder as it rises and falls according to how much gas is inside, sealed in by the water reservoir underneath. This column- guided, telescoping gasometer design was invented in 1824 to conveniently contain ‘town gas’ which was produced using coal. However well before this, a coal ‘gasification’ process was creating gas in useful quantities, which was kept in rigid containers and used for lighting in factories and workshops. These coal gases were far from pure, consisting of numerous substances including methane, carbon monoxide and sulphur, they went through purification processes to be reliably and safely useful.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Things Men do With Ladders number 16


This impressive example of the genre was sent to me by my friend Corky in California, though the man on the ladder is painting the church clock in Mussina, South Africa.  I hope he completed the job... 

You might just think that this is simply a man on a long ladder doing a job that requires two hands?






 




Further down, he and his ladder are balanced on a cantilever arm created out of planks of wood with a human counterweight sitting on them, while holding the ladder with a rope....

There's more...



Quite an impressively ingenious contraption these two have devised. This is clever enough to warrant the label 'construction.'



 
Of course the chances of this going wrong are as high as painting the clock face. And how did he actually get up there.  


However he got up there, you could call this a Stairway to Heaven ...

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Hastings Pier is Up and Running again

The 144-year-old Hastings Pier, originally designed by Eugenius Birch, and Grade II Listed since 1976, has reopened this year, eight years after closure and six years after the structure was almost totally destroyed in a devastating fire in October 2010. The blaze, thought to have been started by vandalism, destroyed the pier head ballroom, all of the kiosks and stalls, much of the decking and one of the two curved pavilions. No one has been prosecuted.

The revived pier, with restored 1916 pavilion to the left. 

Following the fire English Heritage assessment confirmed that the heritage value of the substructure remained, so an application was submitted for funding to the Heritage Lottery at the end of November 2010 to restore the substructure of the Pier and renovate the remaining pavilion. Heritage Lottery trustees visited the pier on 16 March 2011 to assess the application. Hastings Borough Council were granted £100k toward emergency works by to pay for structural supports to be applied to the central section which was weakened by the loss of the deck in the fire.
5 October 2010, the blaze destroyed most of the
structures on the pier and damaged the substructure

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sustainability in the Construction Industry.

Sustainable construction is a term used to describe the application of sustainable ideas and eco-friendly methods to the construction industry. Sustainability cannot be expected to demand the perfect solution, in environmental terms, at the expense of everything else. A highly eco-friendly company which rapidly goes to the wall, does not help either the environment or the people involved.

To maximise its effect, sustainability needs to be factored in at all levels in the industry; any company or individual who is involved in the development, planning, design, build, supplying, alteration or maintenance of our built environment has a responsibility to not only be aware of sustainability, but be actively engaged. Clients who order the construction also have responsibility in delivering sustainable construction and need to be made aware of the fact.

Sustainable development works by:- 
1) carefully selecting the most eco-friendly materials and techniques which are suitable for the particular job. 
2) using all resources carefully - water and electricity included. 
3) minimising wastage 
4) protecting the environment and 
5) enhancing the environment. 

A development which does not enhance the environment is a wasted opportunity. These are essential targets which the entire industry must work towards, if we are to help ensure a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come.



Saturday, 27 August 2016

What Makes an Ecohouse?

The definition of an ecohouse is an environmentally low-impact home, designed with sustainability in mind and built using materials and technology which reduce its carbon footprint and lower its energy needs. This seems both logical and necessary, the question is whether this standard can be approached in the UK, on a practical and financial basis.

The current situation, with the building of a few homes using German Passivhaus ideas is a laudable start, but if the construction industry really wants to make a difference to the environmental impact of its activities, a radical change of thinking is needed.  It should no longer be acceptable to continue to build standard brick and mortar homes, apply cavity wall insulation and a few solar panels and expect that to be enough. Spread over 100 or more years the carbon footprint of the construction of an individual house may not look particularly high, but climate change is here, now; we no longer have 100+ years to work on it.

Materials used in standard house building are not obviously compatible with sustainable construction. For example, the use of concrete could be a major issue. Weight for weight it is the second largest quantity of material used in house building after bricks. Concrete is made from 10 to 15% Portland cement, the manufacture of which requires a high input of energy resulting in one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions for every tonne of cement produced. Technologies are being researched to reduce this impact, including putting the CO2 back into the product, but these new materials are not yet widely available.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Auguste Endell, Architect of the Month, May 2016


August Endell was born on 12 April 1871 and grew up in Berlin. In 1892 he went to the University of Munich to study aesthetics, philosophy and art. Always an intellectual he became interested in the aesthetics of art and design and wrote a number of papers on the subject including 'On Beauty' in 1896 which can be considered an anticipation of abstract art. He befriended Jugendstijl sculptor and designer Hermann Obrist who influenced and encouraged him to move from academia.

A self-taught artist, Endell began working on translating his theories into architecture and the built environment and in 1896 received his first commission. Endell's design for the fa├žade and interior of the Hofatelier Elvira, an existing building in Munich
Interior of Hofatelier Elvira 
which he embellished with typically turbulent Jugendstijl forms and motifs, made him famous overnight. The Atelier was to be run as a photographers' and artists' studio by Anita Augspurg and Sophia Goudstikker and was said to have been the first such business in Germany created and run by women. The building was vandalised by the Nazis and later destroyed by bombing during WWII.     

From 1898 Endell joined other artists and designers in the Munich arts and crafts movement where he became regarded as an innovative leader. He continued to publish articles and papers including in 1901 on "Originality and Tradition". At the same time he moved from Munich to Berlin which encouraged him to move from the flamboyance of Jugendstijl design and towards Modernism. He contributed to the design of the Theater Bunte, in Berlin Germany, which has since been destroyed.