Innovation needs some focus
Australia’s ahead on design, not so grand with social housing, writes
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.
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