» architecture ¦ What You Can Get Away With

The Philpott case is horrific; so is the attempt to highjack it for any political purpose – Some sense from Alex Massie.
15 Mid-Century Modern Dream Homes that will Kill Your Children – The hidden hazards of modern architecture
“Paying More In” – Stumbling and Mumbling explaining one foolish statement people make about benefits and social security.
Margaret Thatcher: This is a state funeral, and that’s a mistake – Like a Targaryen monarch, there’s a 50-50 chance as to whether a Peter Oborne column will be totally barking or well worth reading. This is the latter.
Bitcoin Is No Longer A Currency – A good explanation of Bitcoin’s rise as an example of a bubble commodity, rather than a currency.

, , , , , ,

Common decency fail at the Huff Post – Jim Jepps on why posting pictures of David Miliband with his flies undone helps to drive politicians further away from the public.
Eastleigh – Why There’s No Farage – Because, explains Tim Fenton, despite his talk of the importance of Westminster, he’s no desire to actually be an MP.
Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Storm Damage Vehicles – An illustration of the amount of damage done by the storm, that also prompts questions about why they’re all being disposed of.
Against Save Our Thing – Alex Harrowell explains why campaigning to save social hardware is misguided when its the software that’s under attack.
The Shard: beacon of the left’s skyline – Owen Hatherley on how the 1980s changes in local government led to the skyscrapers of today.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s amazing how far you can go with funny hair and the ability to say ‘cripes!’ isn’t it? For a start, you can get straight past the Telegraph sub-editors and fact-checkers and bring out this little nugget of non-information:

a new building like the Shard needs four times as much juice as the entire town of Colchester

Yes, that’s right. According to the Mayor of London, who’d you expect to know even a vague something about these things, the Shard – a building that will hold around 8,000 residents and workers when it’s full – needs four times as much power to run as Colchester – a town of 100,000+ inhabitants that includes one of the Army’s largest garrisons. Bur according to Boris, the Shard needs 4 times that much power, which means that every person who uses it would be using 50 times as much power as their equivalent here in Colchester.

Somehow, unless the Shard was the winner of the little-publicised ‘build the least energy-efficient building in the history of humanity’ contest, this doesn’t seem very likely. Let’s see what Renzo Piano, the building’s architect, has to say about how much power it will use:

“It’s a very old dream of mine, this idea of making a building like a little town,” Piano says. “So when people say, oh but it’s going to use up so much energy, it’s not true. An actual town of 8,000 people [the Shard's projected number of occupants] would use up five times as much energy. This is why the Shard is the shape it is. The higher up you go, so the functions change, and you need less floor space, until you get to the very top, and there I just wanted the building to kind of mingle in the air. It’s important that it breathes up there – that it breathes in the clouds.”

So, Boris is not just wrong, he’s wrong by a factor of 250. Rather than use fifty times the power of the average Colcestrian, a person in the Shard will be using about one-fifth.

Now, this might seem just like Boris getting his hyperbole wrong again and I shouldn’t worry about it because he’s got funny hair, but this non-factoid is in the first paragraph of his Telegraph piece for a reason. Because of the huge demand for power he says there’ll be from buildings like the Shard, we have to abandon all our scruples and join the fracking dash for gas. There’s no time to worry about the potential impacts of extracting shale gas – or even whether it’s techologically or economically viable – we have to be rushing to feed the beast of reckless consumption, even if it doesn’t actually exist.

In his rush to grab evidence to try and bolster a weak argument, Boris has failed to notice that the Shard actually punctures it. Renzo Piano has designed a building that anticipates energy shortages by using less power, rather than cracking up the juice on everything and hoping that the payment cheque will clear before the building’s inundated by rising sea levels. Surely the Mayor of London should be trumpeting how forward-looking his city is to create such an efficient building, rather than making up figures to argue for pumping even more CO2 into the atmosphere?

(Original links from Zelo Street, who also point out the flaws in the arguments Boris makes for shale gas and fracking)

, , , ,