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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Structural Survey, Volume 26, Issue 2.
I recently attended the CIB W89 International Conference on Building Education and Research in Sri Lanka. BEAR 2008 was a gathering for international academics, practitioners, professionals and policy makers concerned with the future of Built Environment Education and Research. The theme was to promote built environment related education and research towards a more expansive view of the life cycle of infrastructure projects, one that extends beyond the traditional cycle of feasibility analysis, planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance and disposal. This revised life cycle, it was argued, should encompass the construction professional’s ability to anticipate and respond to unexpected events that damage or destroy an infrastructure project from earthquakes and climate change to terrorist attacks and reflect construction’s ongoing responsibility towards an infrastructure’s users. Thus a major strand of conference activity centred around “disaster management” and there were still significant signs of the tsunami of December 2004 in the coastal areas that we visited. Obviously the conference had been planned for several years and it was a great pity that there was a spate of political unrest in the days and weeks leading up to the conference. Approximately 30 per cent of the delegates who had registered to attend decided against doing so at the last minute. Australian delegates were relatively scarce but this was not surprising given their government’s official advice not to travel to Sri Lanka as a result of several bomb blasts leading up to the sixtieth anniversary of independence.
Structural Survey sponsored the award for best paper on a construction technology/ building pathology subject and I am pleased to announce that this was won by Andreas Nataatmadja of Queensland University of Technology. I hope that one day soon you will be able to read his paper “Development of low-cost fly ash bricks” in the journal. As part of his prize Andreas was awarded a free online subscription to the journal for 12 months.
The conference hotel was the Heritance Kandalama, which is located in the centre of the island overlooking a huge reservoir. The hotel was designed by a well-known local architect, Geoffrey Bawa and is built into the rock face overlooking the reservoir. The wild life was spectacular with well over one hundred species of birds in and around the lake and two species of monkey that live in the trees above and below the hotel. The hotel has a green roof although I noticed that this was giving problems with water penetration in one position.
A few days after returning from Sri Lanka I took some students to visit the Hockerton housing project which is the UK’s first earth sheltered, self-sufficient ecological housing development. Project members live a holistic way of life in harmony with the environment, in which all ecological impacts have been considered and accounted for. The residents of the five houses generate their own clean energy, harvest their own water and recycle waste materials causing no pollution or carbon dioxide emissions. The houses also have a green roof but I was told that after ten years the roof is not showing any sign of leakage. The houses have no heating installed but the earth sheltering (and of course high thermal mass and substantial amounts of insulation) ensure remarkably even and comfortable temperatures. Rainwater is collected from the south facing conservatory roofs for drinking purposes and from the external paved surfaces for all other uses. Sewage is treated by a reed bed system and the owners of these four bedroom houses each pay less than £30 per annum for all utility services!
Given the Government’s desire to achieve zero-carbon new housing in the future, the Hockertin housing project is an interesting model of sustainability. I doubt very much though that the typical new house buyer would be excited by the prospect of living partially below ground.
The papers in this issue are all written by overseas-based authors. Abu-Obeid et al. (from Jordon) present the findings of their interesting study into how architects, engineers and the general public differ in their response to the aesthetics of non-conventional structures. Arto Saari (from Finland) shares a case study project with us that demonstrates the importance of pre-planning refurbishment projects. Sara Wilkinson (now based in Australia but originally from the UK) has written about work life balance in the Australian and New Zealand surveying professions. Lo et al. (from Hong Kong) present their research, which they hope will stimulate the greater use of a performance-based approach to fire safety design in Hong Kong. Finally Low et al. (from Singapore) investigate the relationships between buildability and building integrity and also thermal performance.