In­no­va­tion needs some fo­cus

Aus­tralia’s ahead on de­sign, not so grand with so­cial hous­ing, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY -

KEVIN McCloud, the British host of Grand De­signs, says he loves the vi­tal­ity of ar­chi­tec­ture be­cause it makes peo­ple think. Aus­tralia, he says, can get away with more avant-garde build­ing de­signs than the UK.

But we lag be­hind the UK in in­no­va­tive so­cial hous­ing, says McCloud, who is in Mel­bourne for a homeshow. He hopes a new breed of ecofriendly so­cial hous­ing will be built as a so­lu­tion to the ‘‘tur­moil’’ in the British con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

‘‘The so­cial hous­ing sec­tor takes the lead (in in­no­va­tion) and that is to be lauded,’’ he says.

‘‘The im­pres­sion I get from (Aus­tralians) is that sus­tain­able hous­ing is not yet in com­mon par­lance.

‘‘I get the im­pres­sion that it’s much lower down the agenda in Aus­tralia. There’s noth­ing like good le­gal bench­marks as in­cen­tives for busi­ness and the open mar­ket to get go­ing in de­liv­er­ing al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions.’’

McCloud is ex­cited by where the in­dus­try is head­ing, though.

‘‘I think tech­no­log­i­cally we are, as a so­ci­ety, at the most ex­cit­ing time since the in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion. I hope that we are about to em­bark on a post-in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion,’’ he says.

McCloud has at­tracted con­tro­versy in the UK, where his own sus­tain­able and af­ford­able hous­ing project in Swin­don en­coun­tered ‘‘con­struc­tion qual­ity is­sues’’, at­trib­uted to the project’s con­trac­tor.

Aptly named HAB (hap­pi­ness, ar­chi­tec­ture, beauty), the project was in­tended to stand apart from the British stereo­type of poorly con­structed homes, McCloud says.

HAB’s pro­pri­etor says ‘‘all is­sues had been re­solved with the Swin­don homes’’.

McCloud has projects in Stroud, Ox­ford and Bris­tol, all of which will in­cor­po­rate ‘‘dif­fer­ent ar­chi­tec­tural prac­tices for each city’’.

McCloud will host the in­au­gu­ral Grand De­signs Live homeshow in Mel­bourne along­side the pre­sen­ter of Grand De­signs Aus­tralia, Peter Mad­di­son, this week­end.

Fri­days, 6.30pm, ABC1.

: Sun­days, 11.30am, The Life­Style Chan­nel.

Kevin McCloud.

Wed­nes­days, Thursdays, Satur­days, Sun­days, var­i­ous times, The Life­Style Chan­nel.

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