If this blog was updated rather sporadically last year, it’s because I spent a lot of it working on this book for RIBA Publishing with architect and climate change expert Bill Gething. It’s about adapting our buildings to cope with climate change – change that’s already happening and which will continue until well into the next century, even if we were to stop all carbon-emitting activity tomorrow. Higher temperatures threaten to make many of our homes, offices, schools and hospitals uninhabitable or prohibitively expensive to cool; the impact of increased rainfall and more frequent storms is less well understood. The book explores what changes we might experience in the UK, the consequences for our buildings and the ways that we use them, and the challenge that climate change presents to some of the most fundamental principles of modern architecture.
Over the last ten years, student accommodation has become a global asset class much sought after by everyone from Far Eastern sovereign wealth funds to Dutch healthcare workers’ pension schemes, fuelling development in the UK at a furious pace. But with some markets approaching saturation, development funding and sites increasingly hard to come by, and the – as yet unknown – impact of higher tuition fees, can it sustain this level of growth? And how is this influx of foreign capital affecting local housing markets in the UK’s key student cities? Optimists predict a flood of family-sized homes coming back on to the market, but in this piece for Modus, the magazine of the RICS, I found that the reality in key student cities like Leeds is rather different. Local experts apply the “trampoline test”: if there’s a garden big enough for a kid’s trampoline, a family might move in. If not, forget it. So far, the prospects for Leeds’ student heartlands don’t look good.