Over the past few years, I have been taught various ‘green’ methods for construction and material implementation. These lectures were delivered by various people who would cover ‘eco’ materials, methods and sometimes – if we were lucky – the final building products.
While settling into Synthesis I have been given a project concerning the use of Built Green environmental rating system which is the first of the ‘green’ designed buildings that Synthesis has worked on. This has given me opportunity to explore green design in real life.
During university work, you are given a description of the project and the building’s function – the budget was a much as you like within limits, so no gold toilet. While working on the project, I have been contemplating the cost and effort involved in the construction of an ‘eco’ building. The idea that a building requires a budget is not new news but still a daunting idea when you consider that it is someone else’s hard-earned money. Quite different to university where you only waste your own time and little money is used except for those ‘required’ nights out.
At university, creating an acceptable building is simple; you make what you like while abiding with the criteria outlined in the brief. In a sense, this is very similar to what we have to do now – one difference is that the client is a paying customer and is more inclined to care about what they will be living in rather than giving you 65% on the project.
A daunting task about working in Synthesis is meeting clients, the consultants and individuals who may represent the client. If you present something at university it is generally to your colleagues or lecturers who you know fairly well. University will never teach you the complexities of having to present something to someone who is extremely knowledgeable in their area (consultants and contractors) nor will it teach you the complexities of a human relationship when it comes to a home (client). The contractors and consultants are technically intelligent but the clients are always correct. It is very rare you get both working together but on those occasions, meetings go without incident – otherwise, as the architect, we generally rile things up. Not on purpose mind you, but very much unintentionally. We just know we’re correct.
For the first time in the past four to five years, I am the least experienced CAD technician around the building and almost feel useless in my provision of help. My slight solace is my ability to complete various requests so as to provide Kevin with bits of information here and there. At university, the practical part was always the ‘easy/fun’ part – it gave you the opportunity to test your knowledge without constraints while creating something that you considered pleasing. I never thought that I would be satisfied with doing the research part again.
While working, you never really think about what you used to do and what you should be doing: you just do it. There will always be a difference between academics and the real world – the only way to get into it is to plod along and make yourself available for whatever work comes your way.