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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 7 - renaissance person and the art of multi tasking

December 1st, 2013

As the horseman Haiyan wreaks destruction, famine, pestilence and death, I feel confusion as I contemplate the spork. The cyclone can at least multi task fourfold and the spork twice, what if anything, can fulfill a solitary task. Buildings certainly have a good bash, anyone who has tried to convert a church will agree, while the humble Glasgow tenement is oft quoted as flexible. It's flexibility though is misplaced for it's longevity, but a genuine multi tasker?

Reduction of destruction, labour and war has set the male world in quandary, they wonder networking and collaboration. They now make up less than half of all entrants to architectural school and medical school has seen their numbers dwindling at a quicker rate. Stereotyped as the slow starter, shamefully they still take the lions share of the better jobs, we are all well due for a change. Interestingly a new breed has emerged which prospers, the metrosexual; well groomed, communicative and more willing to work with others, but a genuine multi tasker?

The tenement and the metrosexual have a lot in common but neither can compete with a bare chested Putin riding across the tundra barking orders at the peasants. Putin would be a decent name for a cyclone, I find it wierd the most destructive cyclone in recorded history was called Mitch who managed to scythe down 11,000. It was heartening to see our metrosexual monarch Becks, contribute his designer clothes to help the Philippine disaster. PR stunt or not a bit of recycling helps, for an alternative contribution try

Jonathan Charley had been scheduled to deliver SEDA's October Green Drinks on the ecology of disaster, this would have been timely in an unfortunate way. Jonathan released a whiff of the talk by letting SEDA know that solar panels and domestic wind turbines piss in the wind of natural global forces. His contribution to SEDA's 'Green Cities' recently published magazine, took a more personel view on mankind's ability to shape the planet with his comparison to Asmirov's entirely urbanised planet Trantor.

The magazine is a reaction to the recent fact that half the worlds expanding population reside in cities while the enduring image of ecological design is rural. Everything the urban eye beyolds is designed, surely this is where ecological designers should cast theirs. A great evening was spent last Thursday at the Lighthouse debating this point with the evangelical Diarmaid Lawlor of A+DS tackling the topic 'do greens hate cities', quoting Herbet Giradet, Petra Kelly, Doreen Massey and Juhani Pallasmaa, just a few from a galaxy of planet sized brains.

Flexibility now seems different to a dimmed light, bachelor bed folding from the wall, and has been resurrected as something more thoughtful and scrubbed up; one person's perfection is another's dystopia. As UPVC reduces the sperm count, the doomed male bastion of inflexibility contemplates the horrific branding of greek letters in the cowardly old world. Hands up who preferred John the Savage, to the Alpha Plus, metrosexual perfection of Mustapha Mond (and who preferred Clockwork Orange to Brave New World).

What now is the amoeba of the architectural world and who dishes out the somma. A single sex organism can at least divide in two while architectural practice sharpens its hold on psycological manipulation and operant conditioning. This pales in the shade as the human race takes a man look at the fact our current rate of global consumption is one and a half planets, while we need five planets to survive, summed up by Bill and Ted in their original encounter with Socrates, 'we are all dust in the wind dude'.


SEDA 'show and tell' 03rd December 2013 at 5.30 pm, Edinburgh A+DS. Check for details.

Bill and Ted 3 featuring 'death' the fourth horseman of the apocalypse is due for release in July 2014.

SEDA Green Drinks 2014 is kicked of on 30th January with Frank McAveety discussing urban cycling at Siempre Bike Shop, 162 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow. Check for details.

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