Saturday, September 13, 2008

By George he's not got it!

Plenty of evidence around at present that architect George Ferguson (PPRIBA, BA, BArch, RWA according to here) doesn't get what is truly meant by sustainability. His column in todays Bristol Evening Post provides a good example to illustrate what I mean. He says this near the start,

'I am writing this from the sweltering heat of the Venice Architecture Biennale exhibition - I call it work. This city is wonderfully sustainable and dominated by pedestrians and water traffic.'

Later in the piece he contradicts this by referring to the 'massive annual maintenance bill, not to mention the mega-million flood defences.' of Venice. Far from being 'wonderfully sustainable' I'd say Venice has some serious sustainability problems to deal with, not least sinking/subsiding/flooding and the massive economic consequences George himself points out (see viability section on diagram).
So I'm left puzzled as to what overall sustainability scale gives Venice a 'wonderful' score (even though the dominance of pedestrian and water transport is an obvious and significant upside).
Add to this the example of the proposed 'cycle houses' development on/near the Bristol to Bath Railway Path. It's much favoured by George (his architects Acanthus Ferguson Mann have been retained by the developer Squarepeg) but consistent with sustainability thinking its not. One part of current plans would cause significant damage to a biodiverse green space, a negative change in its 'rural' character and a loss of visual amenity. See previous posts here, here and here, plus the Green Bristol Blog, Bristol Blogger and Keep the Bank Green .
Of course it might be that George does get sustainability but puts other factors ahead of it??