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Archive for December, 2009

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I love books. I buy books all the time. I buy far more books than I can read. At any given time there’s lotsa books lying around that I’ve not gotten around to reading yet.

I love bookstores too.

But like others I’ve stopped buying books from bookstores, preferring to buy almost all my books online.

And now, Borders is the first to fall victim to this trend. If you live near a Borders (who doesn’t?), it’s time to go searching for bargains.

Borders displaced the independent bookseller. Amazon.com (or .co.uk) displaced Borders. What next?

When all the bookstores go, will books be next?

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So, I’m back from Germany, and amidst a slow weekend and monday sleeping off the always late and occasionally booze-filled nights in Deutchland, I’ve been catching up on the news and events of our dear world.

Aside from Tiger Woods and his many mistresses (I bet some of them are fake), the UN COP15 (15th Conference of the Parties, or whatever) starts today in Copenhagen, Denmark, and is garnering a lot of interest. There are the advocates, who strongly claim that the Climate Change Conference is going to be the last chance to make things right. There are also the skeptics that say that all this treaty talk is stuff and nonsense and that we are looking at the wrong direction. When both of the links I supplied point towards the same newspaper – TIME, you can be assured that divergent opinions are many and each are reasonable in their own right.

I wonder what does that mean for future architects/town planners/developers. Strict targets on reduced carbon emissions will probably manifest in the form of ever stricter building regulations and building codes on all new build and refurbishment projects. Perhaps to tighten the net there might be stricter controls and actual restrictions based on LCA (Life-Cycle Assessment)and all that less-quantifiable stuff, such as restricted variety of materials based on their sources, restricted construction mehods or whatever.

For most practical purposes I assume that the construction industry of most countries have a of a dark side to them, if not entirely corrupt. I know nothing about economics, but I do  know that for the big players of such industries to adopt greener practices are nearly always far more expensive and less profitable then maintaining the status quo.

The firm where I worked at last year did a lot of work with a huge, well known conglomerate with the usual thick goo of bureaucracy to wade through to get anywhere important, and the usual slick and grandiose statements of sustainability, social responsibility and whatnot. Based on my limited time and observations there, I can safely say that most of the executives dealing with the day-to-day work of the actual construction work, those executives who are not related to the PR department, have probably never even heard about “those statements”, let alone integrate them into their work.

Perhaps it will be a race to see who topples them from their perch first – tightly-controlled and stringent building regulations and codes that cover as many quantifiable elements as possible, or entrepreneurial start-ups with small money and big ideas.

While we’re on the subject of the last link, I wonder how switching the fundamental way we transport ourselves change the way towns and cities are designed.  Is it just a case of replacing every petrol station with a charging station/equivalent, or is it necessary to resdeign entire swathes of infrastructure and the city? It would be interesting to find out.

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