RIBA considers awards for lasting designs

Recent reports suggest that the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is considering a new “test of time” category as part of their RIBA awards scheme.

At the moment, sustainability awards for architecture are based around buildings’ predicted future performances. While this makes it possible for new designs to win an award, the estimated performance of a building can sometimes differ from the way it functions when in use. Factors such as the way in which people actually use the space, and the durability of the materials used, can only be properly assessed over time. The new RIBA award would probably involve judging a building after it had been used for at least 10 years.

The discussion about sustainable buildings and their longevity highlights the fact that no minimum lifespan requirement exists at present. This is so in spite of the fact that building regulations are becoming ever stricter, with greater attention to detail regarding the materials used and the measurements required. BRE Environmental Profiles for UK buildings assume a lifespan of around 60 years but some architects argue that, as almost 40% of British houses are over 65 years old, this seems too short.

In the UK, experts such as Dr Paola Sassi at Oxford Brookes University are carrying out research into the lifespan of buildings and it is hoped that, in the future, architects will have more facts to work with when designing sustainably. Local businesses or individuals concerned about the longevity of their building projects should look for architects on the Wirral who prioritise sustainability and keep up-to-date with the latest research.

Posted by Mark
July 1, 2013
Architecture in the Media

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