• Chris Evans

New beginnings: welcome to the iDeA Architects Blog.


I've been meaning to start this for some time - thanks to my daughter, Sabrina for her work on the site and for setting up and configuring this blog page for us. It's a good time to begin. COP 26 has focussed the world on the problems we face and the global consequences for nature and humanity if we don't.

At iDeA Architects we see this as a challenging time ahead but we also recognise what this creates a time of great opportunity for beneficial change. So let's begin on a positive note.

I'm looking forward to seeing a more harmoniously-connected as well as creative future unfold.

Both Kevin and myself teach HE students at Pembrokeshire College. Something we have done since we founded iDeA in 2007- our first office was a starter unit on campus. Teaching has provided another creative outlet as well as a continuing opportunity to learn from others in a collegiate environment.

Last week we took a break from the classroom to observe what was happening outside. Here was another new beginning as the concrete was pumped across the floor-plate of what will be a new engineering facility for Pembrokeshire college. The site is constrained as the new building sits between the main building and the Innovation Centre. Reinforced concrete has been used to create retaining, plinth walls and a floor-slab, mostly on fill on a sloping site. We watched as a pump reaching across the building's footprint delivered wet mix onto the steel reinforcing mesh . This operation went on long after we left and late into the night to complete a single pour.

Concrete is ubiquitous within the construction industry, having many versatile uses, but it comes with a heavy cost in terms of its embodied energy and carbon footprint. Unlike lime, which re- absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere when it cures, CO2 given off in the process of manufacture isn't re-absorbed to the same extent and is adding to the CO2 emissions load caused by human activity.

Research and practical developments are under way to find new low-carbon cement and concrete products, but a further option is to look at the alternatives. There is always a choice. This is especially so now, as monetary-cost gives way to a more important realisation of the cost to the environment and we feel our way towards buildings that have a lighter environmental footprint. I am sure such considerations will be explored by students and staff working in the new engineering building.

I look forward to visiting and making use of the new facility next academic year. In the meantime it's going to be useful to show students around the construction as it progresses. The contractor, WB Griffiths are very helpful in this regard, acknowledging the value to students of seeing the process 'on site' and arranging visits.

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