Site canteens, jenga, watermelons and karaoke

One of the best things about being features editor of Building magazine (March 2005-2008) was organising ridiculous stunts, like this site canteen competition, a jenga tournament and the £6 house , inspired by John Prescott’s £60,000 housebuilding competition, where the winning team hollowed out a watermelon and constructed a picket fence from cucumber. But the most surreal was the Pub Olympics, where construction types got far too competitive over a quiz, table football, pool and karaoke. It culminated with a prominent construction lawyer belting out “Delilah” and making the cover…

Phase One networking evenings

I organised the latest of Building magazine’s Phase One networking evenings for younger people in construction in Bristol, on the slightly tangential subject of public art. It’s a big deal up there – and not just because of Banksy (apparently the city council have instructed their graffiti scrubbers to turn a blind eye to his million-dollar stencils). I was much more impressed by strings of neon lights hanging over our heads and the interactive lightwall that mirrors shoppers footsteps in lights – even though it wasn’t working.

Building Gulf supplement

I spent much of the summer writing and editing a 56-page supplement on construction in the Middle East for Building magazine, published in October. This involved spending a week in the sweltering July heat dashing around Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar meeting industry types and touring new developments. Highlights included meeting the architect of the Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world, getting a tour of Balfour Beatty’s new worker camp and spending two and a half hours trying to find a building site in Abu Dhabi with three different maps… But the most striking thing was that the Gulf’s developers are not only building taller and taller towers, but vast cities from scratch.