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Top 5 Products stories 2023

Words:
Jan-Carlos Kucharek

Readers were intrigued by stories showing developers are taking the retrofit high ground and social housing turning to Passivhaus principles. And what do white LEDs have to do with staving off ageing?

Visualisation of Sheppard Robson’s 95 Queen Victoria Street in London.
Visualisation of Sheppard Robson’s 95 Queen Victoria Street in London. Credit: Sheppard Robson

#1: Low carbon retrofit takes the office power seat
Published 15 March 2023

Developers are taking the lead in office retrofit, if Jo Smit’s Special Report in March/April 2023’s PiP was anything to go by – and architects have the potential to benefit from it, she argued. While rented commercial offices need to achieve an EPC of B by 2030, property consultant Savills is saying that nearly three quarters of properties currently don’t even meet that standard. Developers like Grosvenor, acutely aware of holding ’stranded assets’, are acting early, to ensure that their properties more then meet guidance. Cue Smit’s feature, highlighting the likes of Sheppard Robson, Barr Gazetas and Arup; all weighing in to help them stay ahead of the net zero carbon curve.

 

The five-year project saw some 114 Grade 2 listed 17th Century homes and buildings retrofitted.
The five-year project saw some 114 Grade 2 listed 17th Century homes and buildings retrofitted. Credit: Clovelly Estate

#2: Retrofit for whole village slashes heating bills and energy loss
Published 21 February 2023

If you though that Grimshaw’s Eden Project walks away with the sustainability gong in Cornwall, think again. Stephen Cousins’ article on the Cornish village of Clovelly caught the imagination of our readership with a community-wide retrofit that saw 114 of its grade II-listed, 17th century properties sympathetically retrofitted in ways that halved their energy loss and slashed bills for residents.

Measures adopted by landlord, the Clovelly Estate, included sheep’s wool loft insulation, bespoke draught proofing and ‘almost invisible’ secondary glazing fitted by listed building insulation specialist Mitchell and Dickinson. And in a move suited to George Bailey of Bedford Falls, the landlord stumped up for all the improvements, to make Clovelly's exposed coastal location feel cosier for one and all.

 

Animal tissue will transmit NIR radiation after multiple internal photon scatterings, increasing the probability of photons performing important biological functions deep within the body.
Animal tissue will transmit NIR radiation after multiple internal photon scatterings, increasing the probability of photons performing important biological functions deep within the body. Credit: Bob Fosbury

#3: White LEDs threaten health, reveals UCL study
Published 4 August

In an example of dangers literally hiding in plain sight, a recent UCL report highlighted that while white LEDs might be the luminaire of choice for your interior lighting demands now, we might be storing problems up for ourselves in the future. It seems you were curious to read Stephen Cousins’ article on what astro-biologist Robert Fosbury had to say on the matter after he carried out studies comparing them to incandescent light and natural sunlight. Seemingly, white LEDs don’t emit enough infra-red light, the absence of which can be detrimental to our mitochondria, which help prevent diseases linked to aging. His advice? We’ll let you read it yourself – preferably beside a window with a tree outside.

 

Morris+Company’s unitised brick facades steps down to the walls of the ancient cemetery adjacent.
Morris+Company’s unitised brick facades steps down to the walls of the ancient cemetery adjacent. Credit: Jack Hobhouse

#4: The Featherstone Building in London, by Morris+Company
Published 7 February 2023

When one of your neighbours is William Blake, you might want to be mindful of what you put up next to his turf. Admittedly, the poet and artist has been dead for nearly two hundred years, but he wrote Jerusalem, right? Morris + Company’s Featherstone Building next to Bunhill Fields cemetery in central London paid their own respects by referencing the many - 'satanic'? - Victorian warehouses in the area and using a unitised brick slip facade with GRC backing on a steel frame and staggering down towards him. At lower levels, precast concrete scallops create depth and shadow – both aspects you feel the great man would approve of.

 

Agar Grove housing by Mae Architects is the coutry's largest Passivhaus project.
Agar Grove housing by Mae Architects is the coutry's largest Passivhaus project. Credit: Tim Crocker

#5: Social housing can harness Passivhaus principles
Published 17 May 2023

With stories constantly in the news about the poor levels of housing quality, both in public and private rented sectors, it’s nice to read one that looks at landlords who are actually trying to make real efforts to raise both the quality and efficiency of their new housing. Jo Smit’s PiP article starts with Mikhail Riches’ Passivhaus homes in Norwich, and the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero’s ‘Building for 2050’ research project on challenges of more energy efficient homes. It goes on to talk to architects like Bell Phillips, Mae and Hawkins\Brown – architects who are at the coalface of delivering them for local authorities.

 

Evergreen building article 2023 – the most popular archive article that you kept coming back to again and again

A seating bay in Croydon University Hospital makes clear differentiation between floor and wall.
A seating bay in Croydon University Hospital makes clear differentiation between floor and wall. Credit: IBI Group

How to choose flooring that will help rather than hinder dementia patients
Published 2 June 2015

Post-pandemic, and in a year in which, for the first time, a facility for older people won the RIBA Stirling Prize, it seems that ways that we might live better towards the end of our lives are being brought out of the shadows and openly discussed. Such thinking chimes with what might have been in the back of your mind all along if Pamela Buxton’s piece on better specification for dementia care is anything to go by. Illustrated with three case studies, Buxton highlights how good specification can have life-enhancing – and extending – effects on those living within the care system.

 

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