Friday, 10 July 2009

Good Homes Alliance seminar


An event at CABE in a banana shaped room in a round building…

After introduction by the GHA Chair Neil May, Ed Hobson (CABE’s Head of Research and Futures) set the scene for why ‘what’s good for health is good for the planet too’.

Dominic Church (CABE’s Senior Policy Advisor) made the case for using Building For Life as best practice guide for designing healthy buildings.

Next, a double act by Alistair Gould ( and Dr Nichol Clarke ( on their experience in adopting an integrated health approach to designing Pines Calyx ( as a centre for sustainable living based on three core values: collaboration, community and cradle-to-cradle sustainability.

Clarke is against the pharmaceutical approach to health which focuses on individuals as machines to be serviced - as everything around us affects our health, the starting point for design is to reconnect with nature, using it as inspiration (bio-mimicry).

How stressors of health on our human body are dealt with at Pines Calyx:
· Air quality – fresh sea air
· Air temperature – spaces are naturally cooled in summer and warmed in winter
· Visual aspects and daylighting – how colour and frequency of light affect our behaviour and performance
· Sound and electro-magnetics (restricted cell phone use)
· Materials – untreated, natural, recycled
· Smells and tastes
· Touch and movement

Leadership being critical to the success of any approach was stressed.

Some healthy people interaction followed with group discussions about the health and well-being aspects of a ghastly design proposal for a mixed use inner-city gateway development which was successful at appeal despite failing Building For Life assessment and design review by CABE!

After the tea break with fresh strawberries, Dr Marcella Ucci mesmerised us with her research at UCL on the prospering of dust mites as houses become more air-tight.

The seminar ended with Sue Riddlestone (Director, BioRegional Development Group) on lessons learnt at Bedzed where the sense of community was valued most and reinforced by:
· Residents knowing about 20 people (8 being the general average) – people engaged in community activities are more likely to be healthier and happier)
· community spaces – garden, play area, compost area
· Car club
· Cycling
· Recycling
· Pride in green spaces – sky gardens

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