I found out about Ecobuild 2015 via twitter. There are a number of organisations I follow in connection to interests, studies and business and one such person Oliver Heath tweeted he would be speaking about Biophilic Design in the Netherlands. As my partner and I had just come back from the Netherlands it was disappointing to find this out as it would have been worthwhile to go along having not long completed my critical study on on this topic. Having mentioned this to Mr Heath he responded saying he would be speaking at Ecobuild at Excel, London on the the 4th March. This sounded promising and I looked up Ecobuild to find out what this was about.
It sounded very interesting with Wednesday being the best day for us to attend. There were a number of things which were of particular interest on this day, the Rethinking the Urban Landscape exhibition by the Landscape Institute, The Landscape Led Development conference where amongst others Noel Farrah the president of the Landscape Institute would be speaking and the talk by Oliver Heath on Biophilic Design. There were a number of other interesting talks happening in the biodiversity pavilion and another talk about landscape led master planning but unfortunately these clashed with the two main things I wanted to see. There were still other interesting things to look at.
We booked our train tickets and registered for the exhibition. It was a 5:00am start for the train to London and after arriving in King’s Cross and negotiating the tube we arrived about 11:00am. There were two large areas to negotiate with a number of different exhibitors in each, a lot related to housing. The main thing for us though was the that most of the products on display or companies there were offering products of a environmentally friendly nature or sought to do business in this manner. This is something which I find is becoming increasingly important as I progress on the journey of design and running a business.
The first thing we looked at was the Landscape Insitute exhibition, Rethinking the Urban Landscape. A range of interesting projects were displayed,
which tie in with the theme of landscape led development and why it is important for urban environments to be designed in this way. I particularly found the Bradford project interesting for bringing water into the city and the project by Martha Schwartz for combining an aesthetic appeal with healthy lifestyles and generating comfortable micro climates using plants.
There were numerous things to look at from solar energy products, building houses from straw bales and lime mortar to green roofs and walls.
The landscape Led Development talk was from 1:30 to 2:30. Those involved were:
It sought to discuss the importance of community and creating places for health well-being and community values whilst asking whether designers are to occupied with an interconnected world and missing the benefits of nature. An interesting subject with the speakers making a case for the particular fields they were interested in. Planners came in for a bit of stick as being described as perhaps not engaging as they should or having their hands tied. Some of the slide show seemed familiar as I recognised them from lectures at the university. I found the subject matter interesting, particularly as Noel Farrah was making the case for the subject of nature and the environment to be on the political agenda. Politics does not reflect the need for landscape in a meaningful way and until it does the public will not care that much. That may be a bit harsh. I think lots of people care about the environment but in the face of overwhelming issues they don’t know how to change things.
The highlight of the day for us was the Biophilic Design talk by Oliver Heath this was from 4:30 until 5:30
Biophilic Design has a set of principles that take advantage of an inherant connection to nature. This includes maximising natural light, providing views onto nature and incorporating natural objects, materials and textures within buildings. Research demonstrates that this approach can reduce stress and promote creativity in the workplace, improve recovery times in hospital, and promote learning in educational spaces. Architectural and interior designer Oliver Heath talked about the benefits of Biophilic Design and how to incorporate it into projects. Having studied this for my critical study I was keen to hear what this leading practitioner had to say. Knowing something of this subject already it was interesting to be able to relate to some of the issues he discussed but what was perhaps more interesting was to see slides of some of the projects he had worked on. As he has trained as an architect he seems to have an understanding of buildings which I assume helps him relate to when designing interiors. It was also visually interesting to see how I might relate the theme of Biophilia to my proposed show garden at Harrogate.
As mentioned previously I follow a number of interesting businesses on Twitter and during the talk one business called Interface tweeted that their marketing director was at the show. Interface have numerous branches around the world and they produce carpet tiles but not just any old carpet tiles. The company was founded by Ray Anderson and they are completely dedicated to becoming a company that is completely sustainable by 2020. The tiles mimic the patterns in the natural environment.
We met Karen Warner after the talk who was very interested in the Harrogate Flower Show project. She also kindly said she would send two books written by their founder Ray about their organisation. She also introduced us to Oliver who was also very interested in what we were trying to achieve for the show garden. We were also invited to Clerkenwell Design week in London in May where Interface would be giving a number of presentations and Oliver would also be attending. It was great to make connections with people of similar interest and I look forward to building on this and I think it would be worthwhile inviting them to my exhibition and the show garden.
This was a long, tiring day, we did not get home until about 11:00pm but it was worth it. We saw lots of interesting products and attended some interesting conference sessions on subjects which matter. We got to meet and make connections with people of similar mind who we can build valuable links with engage with in business. We look forward to the design week in May and hope to continue to make connections with people and business in the industry.