Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Grateful for 'Rain'

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  • Kracklite,

    You sound like a chap with finer feelings. Thank you for anything you can do.

    Why thank you, but in my current position I can't set curricula - I'm part-time and low rank while I concentrate on my Piled Higher and Deeper (in English Lit, of all things... you want eclectic, I'll show you eclectic).

    I'll blame architecture schools for the lack of a truly classical sensibility, it's the developers that have to be blamed for the kitchens and loos. A fixation on the 'aspirational' consumer has led to houses designed for the sort of people who think that sleep and any bodily functions other than responses to opiates and alkaloids are for wimps.

    There is the problem of whittled budgets too. I remember while back - and the details have slipped my memory, so forgive any inaccuracies please - a school was touted as representative of the government's green credentials in action... and then every green feature was progressively stripped from it to leave a banal, inefficient box. The minister responsible could only giggle when confronted with this and I could only seethe.

    You're absolutely right about toilets and wheelchairs and babies of course. A point made back in the days when I tutored ergonomics is that everyone is disabled at least once in their lives.

    On a positive note, while architecture has historically been a male-dominated and sexist profession (the childless males jibe is on the mark), despite the rare example of women like Eileen Grey, things do seem to be changing. These days there are a lot of female students and despite the brutal culling that takes place between first and second year (250+ to less than 80), they've monopolised the A+ echelon this year. The woman, Alex Hills, who co-ordinates 2nd semester third year design at Vic is very much into sustainability and is... not small... and brings her infant daughter into class is an inspiration - now if only they'd give her tenure. Alex, I'm sure won't mind a plug here :)

    Meanwhile, by chance, the co-ordinator of communication (drawing and suchlike) injured her leg setting up an exhibition and spent the second semester on crutches.

    I suppose I serve to demonstrate the special needs of the mentally ill and alcoholic.

    Anyway, things could be on the upturn, long term. Fingers crossed.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    Ta Kracklite.

    To my shame, I completely forgot the needs of the alcoholic... room to kneel in front of a loo should be added to your list!

    Actually I have a relative whose fortune is being made laying and resurfacing marble in commercial buildings. He tells me those clients are usually good for a double fee - once when he advises the architect against specifying polished marble-floored foyers (and is told he is an aesthetic illiterate), and the second six months after installation when a wet winter and a few broken limbs see him called back in to rough up the marble so people can actually stand on it. Tee hee.

    So if developers want to impress, tell them to save money on the marble flooring and put it into bigger loos, and more of them. This is where architects should be taking their machismo out for a trot - confronting developers, not passing the buck to the hapless consumer.

    Another pet design hate, while my soapbox is out and dusted, are homes where the master bedroom is miles from the kitchen, or up in a tower or similar eyrie. Staircases with no handrail or banisters, for example. Do these people never get sick and require meals in bed? Do they never want to retire early with a cup of cocoa? The NZ version of the California bungalow may be much maligned, but it doesn't make this basic mistake.

    It's not so much that I am startled that anyone should want to live the way these modern houses dictate, but my astonishment is that their creators seem incapable of envisaging that other people may have different requirements, ages and abilities. Empathy 101, anyone?

    You may not be able to set curricula, but you can set essay and assignment topics!

    Since Jul 2007 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Daleway - yes YES YES!

    Especially this:

    have the sanitary towel disposal unit behind the loo or as a built-in fitting

    I am so over banging my knees on the wretched things while I take a pee.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

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