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Chris Stewart

Collective Architecture's Chris Stewart discusses his overlapping roles as architect and member of the Scottish Ecological Design Association in promoting green design to a wider audience.

Fortnightly Blog 2

June 13th, 2013

Crits and conferences have replaced the Scottish Highers as the first signs of summer, all spent in darkened rooms focused on the cerebral while outside the world is bright and cheery. Two weeks ago I would have qualified the last statement as snow had been predicted for June and Oklahoma had been devastated by freak tornadoes. Today we only have Northern Eurpoe flooded, those who are interested Jonathan Charley at a Green Drinks date to be confirmed, will discuss the ecology of disastors and his belief that we who contemplate heat exchangers and air source heat pumps are pissing in the wind.

Back to the afore mentioned darkened rooms. Crits have become a lonely experience, at one time they were a joy, a calamity and always ended in a crowded bar. Now they are typified by business cards, no guests, a round of applause and a stop watch (in the form of an i-phone) after which everyone goes home. At Strathclyde School of Architecture in some areas we were able to enjoy some well thought out north light but unfortunately next year we can only look forward to a basement.

Conferences now need to focus our attention away from the sunshine with a theme. In Strathpeffer the RIAS treated us to 'Big World and Wee Scotland' a great event but the theme seemed only to spilt up the two days. Those who addressed the theme fared the best with Kathryn Findlay and Christophe Egret shining the brightest. Kathryn choose to consider the cultural differences she encountered on her return from Japan and how thresholds have been blurred. This was evident in her stunning thatched pool houses built for the mega rich. Christophe stressed another recent trend, that landscaping is pretty damn important, though the rumour that Rem Koolhaas is giving up designing buildings to concentrate on plants, seems a step too far.

SEDA's conference the following weekend in Camphill, Aberdeen was a tad more humble and concentrated on health and well being. Chris Butters and Sandy Halliday of Gaia gave fantastic presentations. I was both surprised and delighted that our own approach to ecological design harmonised with Gaia's, which is best summed up through Howard Liddell's fabulous book Eco-Minimilism or 'antidote to eco-bling' (a must read for any one reading this blog) Our approach follows a more spiritual path placing an emphasis on the importance of loving your building (more to follow in a fortnight or two) but is just as anti-techie.

Finally, I have been disapointed by the quality of blog name suggestions. Come on all you fearsome UR trolls, otherwise we are looking at Fortnighly Blog 3 - probably in a month's time.


Further details on forthcoming SEDA green drinks can be found at


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