Challenges to retrofitting the UK housing stock
I was invited to join the panel of experts for the recent MESH Energy discussion, looking at the challenges we are all facing when retrofitting the UK housing stock. The aim of the session was to understand how we could adapt the current housing stock in the UK, to tackle the fuel crisis and to reach the critical net-zero targets.
There were some interesting questions, including: What role do you think architects have when it comes to retrofitting the UK housing stock in light of the fuel crisis? Can you explain the difficulties when considering embodied carbon in retrofitting of buildings? We know retrofitting can provide an influx of new jobs, but how can we bridge the skill gap? If you were in change of the political retrofit, what would you priorities?
I was joined by three brilliant experts, each at the forefront of their specific area of the sustainable sector, so it was a great discussion to have with some interesting input from each person.
- Graham Hendra, an independent heat pump consultant with over a decade in the renewables sector specialising in air to water heat pumps.
- Jenny Wallace, Operations Director at MESH Energy, with over a decade of practical experience in the energy industry consultancy.
- Graham Lock, founder of Low Carbon Homes a nationwide independent retrofit network.
The discussion was hosted on MESHWorks, the free community hub that brings together sustainably conscious members across the design, architecture, built environment. If this is an area of interest to you it is well worth looking into, details can be found here.
MESH Energy are independent building performance consultants who I have had the pleasure of working with them on multiple projects, most recently when looking at sustainable energy solutions for St Margaret’s Church refurbishment. It was a privilege to be asked to be part of this event, as it is such an important topic and so central to Studio BAD’s company ethos of reuse.
The watch can be viewed here.
We were delighted to be invited by Reading University Architecture Society to deliver a lecture in their 2022 lecture series titled ” REFORMATION REQUIRES” which we gave last night; after so long presenting lectures across zoom it was a delight to be back talking to a real audience.
For the lecture I focused on our most recent community and public realm work, to highlight how architecture can be a vehicle for positive social change. This is an area which all of us at Studio BAD are really passionate about, in many ways it is a key pillar of the company and the reason I set up the business as I wanted to focus on this area of work.
We strongly believe in re-using what is existing, creatively engaging architecture to re-imagine the potential of a building, or a site, to make it fit the current needs. For example, St Margaret’s Church building had been condemned and likely set for demolition, through our work we have delivered a vibrant space for the whole community which is activated throughout the day and week with much needed services, such as a food bank, café, child’s play area and bicycle workshop. We touched the building lightly, only making physically alterations where vitally needed, such as the flooring where we replaced the wooden floor (which we sold, to help fund the works) and replaced with poured concrete, to work with the newly installed, zoned underfloor heating.
Architecture in the 21st century does not have to be just about a physical building, I believe many projects need architecture in a different which is not necessarily just about the bricks and mortar buildings. We have recently been working on projects that focus on reactivating the traditional high street; with these projects we interrogate how we can change the dynamic of the streets to create vibrant and engaging spaces. In Bedford Place, in Southampton, our project was a result of the community needs in the wake of covid, answering how to activate and reanimate the area to create opportunities off the back of temporary road closures. It has been a real pleasure to see the success of the scheme, now nearly two years later much of the scheme is still in place and the local council are looking to make it permanent. We are currently looking at similar reactivation projects in Gosport, Eastleigh and other areas of Southampton.
We truly believe Architecture can creatively problem solve many of the issues we are currently facing; without ego architecture can be immensely powerful, helping to reactive our cities, reduce waste, reduce carbon and deliver richer, long lasting and interesting projects.