It's Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. In previous years I've written about Elizabeth Montagu, Lizzie Le Prince and Laura Willson. This time I want to highlight the unique achievements of Eleanor Coade, creator and entrepreneur behind one of the most durable … Continue reading For Ada Lovelace Day: Eleanor Coade, technology entrepreneur of the 18th Century
I was honoured to be asked to do a short talk on the opening afternoon of the brilliant Culture Hack North event in Leeds this weekend. For one thing, it was a chance to appear alongside Rachel Coldicutt's dream team of Rohan Gunatillake, Natasha Carolan, Lucy Bannister, Helen Harrop, Frankie Roberto and Greg Povey. Also, … Continue reading Down with Façadism: a provocation for Culture Hack North
London has Christopher Wren, Barcelona Antonio Gaudi, and Leeds, well Leeds has Cuthbert Brodrick, the Victorian architect who left us just a handful of public buildings including the amazing, elipitical Corn Exchange. So when the organisers of Bettakultcha, the most fun you'll ever have with Microsoft Office, secured it as the venue for their latest … Continue reading Corn and Grit: Notes from a talk at Bettakultcha VII
It's Heritage Open Days from 9-12 September, a once-a-year chance of free access to properties that are usually closed to the public or charge for admission. Buildings all over England will be open, except in London where you have to wait a week for Open House on 18-19 September. Like every year I'm spoiled for choice with … Continue reading A bath, a clock and a giant walking robot – it’s Heritage Open Days this weekend
As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I moved offices in Leeds earlier this year from Holbeck Urban Village to Clarence Dock. The stark contrast between the two areas has set me thinking about a city's built environment and how it can make a difference to people's lives. First some context for those who don't know … Continue reading You wouldn’t burn a book, or some reflections on narrative capital
It was a privilege to present at this week's GeekUp Leeds on a topic close to my heart, the amazing industrial heritage of Leeds and why it should be an inspiration to those working in the technology sectors today. Thanks to Deb and Rob for organising another great event, and to the GeekUp participants for putting … Continue reading The history of Leeds: What every geek should know
Temple Works is a one-off. Its construction as a flax mill in 1840 must have made a powerful statement about Leeds' status as global pioneer of industry. At the time it was said to be the "largest single room in the world," with innovative air conditioning under the floor and sheep grazing on a grass-covered … Continue reading Help, our industrial heritage is falling down!
"I have got the Drawing for Your Arms in the Pediment done to a quarter of the size, shall order it to be such next week" - Robert Adam in letter to Sir Rowland Winn, owner of Nostell Priory, 1774 Now that's what I call unfinished.
A few years ago when we extended our house to create a new entrance hall we greatly enjoyed flicking through the relevant pages in Christopher Alexander's "A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction". So much of it rang true with those "oh yeah" moments as we looked with fresh eyes at the way we used our … Continue reading The Waist-high Shelf
Love it or loathe it, Richard Rogers' Dome was the architectural icon of of Britain's new millennium. The hubristic creation of Michael Heseltine and Peter Mandelson, it was meant to symbolise our country's post-Thatcher renaissance, all Britpop and Cool Britannia. It didn't work out quite like that. Along with millions of other Britons, we didn't … Continue reading O₂MG, what have they done to the Dome?
A football agent being interviewed about the negative impact of his profession on the game was asked, shouldn't negotiating be left to the players' union, the PFA? Well, he replied, the PFA are nice people, but they're mostly former players, not businesspeople. If I was buying a house, I wouldn't trust a bricklayer to do … Continue reading Caveat emptor
A delightful letter to today's Guardian contradicts the fashionable received wisdom of modernist architects as purists riding roughshod over the interests of users. Defending Berthold Lubetkin's 1934 Penguin Pool at London Zoo, his daughter Sacha writes: I was astonished to read that "nobody thought to ask the penguins" about the design. My father steeped himself … Continue reading On User-Centred Design and the Wrong Kind of Penguin
Is this door with the sign that says other door the other door or is the other door that doesn't say other door the other door? Originally uploaded by mattedgar.
From Simon Thurley's fascinating Buildings That Shaped Britain we learn that Isambard Kingdom Brunel had only once travelled on a train when he designed the gloriously non-standard Great Western Railway from London Paddington to Bristol. Now that, for good or ill, is the difference between innovation and design.