A review of 2019

Amidst the many challenges presented to us in our everyday working lives, it’s easy to forget how far we have come in a year and interesting to reflect back on our achievements.  This was brought home to me a few weeks ago when I attended an inaugural lecture by Professor David Penney.  Dave gave a witty and informative presentation on his life since embarking on a degree in material science over 20 years ago, including reflections on both his personal and professional lives and what has driven him to succeed in his career.  This was an event packed with positivity and friendship, demonstrating the importance of building successful relationships with colleagues and I think made everyone who attended stop to reflect on their own journeys and achievements.

Part of my doctorate involves reflective practice, so I thought it would be worthwhile to review my year.

In January, I started working for the Active Building Centre, the newly established centre set up to enable the roll out of the Active Building concept across the UK built environment.  My role here is to find ways to enable the construction industry to adopt the concept and, as I wrote in last week’s blog, I have identified several ways to do this, as illustrated in this diagram.

(The tools I will be developing as part of my project are the ones in dark blue)

This year, I have been busy addressing three of the sections of the protocol – knowledge sharing, engagement and education – through different methods, including workshops, presentations, student projects, and journal articles.

I started the year with a student project at UWTSD School of Architecture, where first year Architecture students designed an Active House using my developing design guide. Then in March, I hosted a few workshops with Architects where I introduced them to Active Buildings and asked them to review my guide from their perspective of whether it would be a document they could see themselves using.

In April, I was interviewed for an article for the RIBA Journal and featured in the Construction Wales Innovation Index.  As mentioned last week, I presented a paper at an international academic conference in Budapest, in July.  Also, during the year, I have had the opportunity to speak at Grand Designs Live, at a Good Homes Alliance conference, and given a lecture for the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), as well as hosting numerous visits to our Active Buildings.

My research has taken me in some unexpected directions too.  I have spent some time researching how to ensure my design guide is accessible to all and written clearly, reading documents such as How to write in plain English.  I have also had to get to grips with statistics to determine the sample size I need for testing my guide.  Early calculations indicate I probably need 90 – 100 participants to gain a true representation of Architects in Wales. So, if anyone is interested in participating through a workshop, please get in touch. 

An article, published yesterday in online magazine, “Building, Construction, Design”, details my work on Active Buildings.

And, to finish off the year, last night I attended a fascinating IET South Wales Christmas Lecture entitled “Electrifying Transport – The Battery Challenge”, at which, amongst other speakers, SPECIFIC’s very own Dr Jenny Baker did an excellent job of explaining the history of electric vehicles and demonstrating the difference between liquid and solid state batteries, with the help of the next generation of scientists and engineers and some unlikely ingredients, such as marmite, jam and cheese!

All in all a busy year!  With the current climate emergency we are experiencing across the globe, I think 2020 will bring lots of new challenges and opportunities to ‘green’ our building stock.

Merry Christmas everyone and thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Published by jorclarke

I am an Architect, currently working at SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University, and studying for a Doctorate in Sustainable Built Environment (D.SBE), which is focused on developing an Active Building Design Guide.

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