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E is for ’embodied’

We are such a visual culture. It seems that new buildings are often designed to look good in a photo: a quick glance on Instagram reveals feed after feed of architectural snapshots, each more alluring than the last. So how do you get people to focus instead on the invisible, the intangible, the intergenerational, the long view. Well, when it comes to building the “elephant in the room” is embodied energy: how much will your new home cost the future? How big an energy debt does a particular material bring with it? How much fossil fuel was needed to prepare it? How far was it transported? The list goes on, according to one of the architects on the CobBauge project: but when it comes to cob it’s also “how much energy we didn’t use”. I like that idea: of adding in the savings from an avoided future. The art of minimizing effort for maximum effect. And then he went on to mention other cob benefits: increased sense of place, no performance gap, amazing thermal insulation, tranquility (due to sound proofing), air purification, protection from magnetic radiation, fire proofing and moisture control. But we are an image-obsessed culture, so I’ve got to find the visuals for this. No pressure! [Thanks Andrew, really inspiring discussion. I will be back for more.]

1 reply »

  1. Hello Simon

    perhaps ‘E’ is for elusive

    maybe we’re not really visual creatures – do we never really look at an image?
    maybe lockdown has made us less communicative – less connected in every way
    maybe, since our vista is relentlessly overloaded with images battling for our attention,
    any originator might consider that getting us to momentarily glance – acknowledge a style or genre or . .
    or something – and then move on –
    is actually a success

    i’m guessing this has been acknowledged by the architects –
    if they can get a ‘looker’ to linger for a fraction of a second –
    to hesitate –
    they hope that more than a fleeting interest will embed in that moment and inspire the ‘looker’ to investigate further –

    many images are now moving – so that makes it an even bigger ask

    i hesitated when i saw the image – and then read the text
    and then thought about it
    and then wrote back
    but then I’m slowing down – maybe sort of slow to move on
    or perhaps it was because i was emptying out the email file and considering what to keep and what to bin

    its a beautiful photo and then a second smaller one – (just to make sure?)

    perhaps somewhere in my brain i was thinking . .

    E is for everything for either
    but now i’m probably over-thinking it

    either way

    i hesitated

    best regards


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