This is Concrete magazine

My company Wordmule has produced Concrete Quarterly on behalf of the Concrete Centre for several years now. For spring 2015, they also wanted a completely new 24-page magazine to tie in with the Ecobuild event, bringing together all of the sustainability themes from their three-day seminar programme – and planned, written and designed in six weeks flat. The result is This is Concrete.

This Is Concrete 2015

Old habits die hard

There’s nothing brutal about the spring edition of Concrete Quarterly, which my company Wordmule produces for the Concrete Centre. Concrete is at its cosiest in a south London family home, its most sensitive on a heritage restoration in King’s Cross, and its most finely detailed in a concert hall in the Norwegian Arctic, which has 674 unique facade panels of sparkling white concrete.

Nothing brutal, that is, until you get to Lasting Impression on page 19, when architect Simon Allford of AHMM chooses his all-time favourite concrete structures: Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction and disused World War II pillboxes.

The secret profession

With a fast-growing membership around the world, the RICS surveying qualification could be considered one of the UK’s most successful education exports. Ten years ago, just 15% of members and candidates were based outside the UK – today, more than a third can be found across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, India and the Americas. But what isn’t changing nearly fast enough is the gender balance of the RICS. Globally, only 16% of members are female and the figure is even lower in the UK, leaving the profession hardly representative of its client base or the populations it serves. In this article for Modus, the RICS magazine, I reported on the institution’s drive to recruit from a broader cross-section of society, making careers in surveying more appealing to school kids and graduates alike – and, crucially, making them aware that surveying exists in the first place.

 

“We can’t yet say that using five curved shapes and two angular ones gives you this level of productivity, but I like to think we’ll be there in five years”

To the uninitiated, “health, wellbeing and productivity” might sound like an alternate title for the “mind, body, spirit” section of Waterstones. Don’t be fooled: it’s an emphatically evidence-based discipline, with a watertight business case that makes low-energy construction look practically New Age in comparison. There’s a growing body of evidence to show that buildings have a far more subtle impact on their occupants than previously thought – hospital patients with views of nature heal more quickly, office workers with a window seat sleep an average of 46 minutes longer per night and doubling the supply of outdoor air to an office reduces short-term sick leave by 35%.

Companies spend far more on salaries than anything else, so it’s easy to see why some of the property sector’s most influential clients seized have thrown their weight behind a landmark report from the World Green Building Council announcing wellbeing as the next big thing in sustainable building.  Wellbeing is a much more attractive message than the abstinence typically preached by the green movement, and unlike climate change, it’s something that individual organisations can actually do something about. In this feature for Building, I investigated how the wellbeing movement could affect the way buildings are designed and valued, and how exactly you can measure such a nebulous concept in the first place.

CBRE Law in London report 2015

For the second year running, CBRE asked me to contribute to its Law in London report. I researched and wrote material for 22 pages, which involved interviewing legal firms and crunching CBRE’s own extensive data to identify trends in how the sector is occupying space in the capital. Key issues included the need to maintain flexibility as workload increases but fees don’t, and the perennially thorny topic of whether lawyers could ever be persuaded to hotdesk. (Answer: unlikely.)

CBRE Law in London 2015_cover