Thursday, 31 March 2016

It's been a funny old month

Work just seemed to take over in the last few weeks, it looked a little scares for a while, then suddenly I have a lot of paperwork and reading to do, a couple of small jobs came in and I decide that my love afar with Google gmail was coming to an end.

It started as all relationships, full on and lots to talk, but in recent months things have not being going well, I wanted more, so I looked back and decided to take another look at Apples Mail program. I wrote this up in an earlier blog, I had made some mistakes and now needed to sort these out once and for all,,,, it took a while, but I am glad to say I have got it sorted, and a big thank you to Apples Tech support, just excellent, and something Google just does not have.

Back to construction, and a few ideas for papers have piled up in my note book, so I need to look these over some will be downgraded to a blog, some I will keep and expand.

I took a look at Google Earth this week, mostly because I am updating my presentation notes on Architecture, and one of the points I an trying to make is the way shadow's across a building changes, so I have pulled in a screen show to show the way the leading edge of the sun rising at dawn is slightly angles, this angle changes over the months, but its slope shows clearly why France is an hour ahead of us for most of the year,the google map add ons and tools allow you to see this hence todays photo.

So back to the moleskin and a few more notes and sketch's

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Sending a round Robin Email without showing the Email List

Want to send a round Robin Email without showing the Email List, and there are good reasons for doing this, mostly privacy, but client security from competitors and the like spring to mind.

Well its not that hard, all you have to do is send the email in question to your self or perhaps a gmail account thats been set up specifically, and then go to the BBC section. This means Blind Carbon Copy, and its where you might add your list. I use the Mac Mail address book, and in there I have set up several groups, so enter the group name into the BCC and hit send.

Dead easy and your list is safe, trying to send" to all", will not include the BCC so again a safe way to send a round robin or Email Circular.

Todays photo is of a Swivl I have for sale on Ebay, 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

As Email goes, I have tried several different systems, at the University its the Microsoft system, and at home I started on Mac mail then gave Gmail a long trial, almost permanent, but just the last few days I went back to Apple Mail.

The reason is I use Mac products, and trying to balance life between the two quite different systems is some time not easy, I also did not set up my mail very well on gmail, I have several different mail addresses, and just forwarded a copy to gmail, this resulted in about 60,000 emails just sitting in different email accounts doing absolutely nothing.

They were all in imap format, but they just sat there costing me money, so I decided to invest two days to sort it out once and for all, so back to Apple Mail and I set up new accounts and used a vey simple script to set these up from my service provider, so simple I can only wonder why I did not do it earlier.

But then came to problem of syncing all that mail, it took the best part of a day to delete or save all that mail, I must admit as a lot if not most of it was backed up in gmail, I deleted most of it.

But now I have my Macbook Pro, my iPhone and iPad all syncing via map, and its very slick, mac mail is an excellent tool, but I do miss some of the features of gmail, and before you ask, it was just simpler to do in Mac Mail rather than a more complicated route in google.

I set up a few rules for mail I don't want to read, and thats just to difficult to stop, and several rules for mail I want a hard backup, and have routed these to Evernote.

So Mac is back and I must admit to being happy, no more large email deposits, no having to sync address books, and I am learning to use iCloud, although I don't think google drive will go away just yet, its to good.

So what has this to do with CPD, very little I must admit, although if your starting out and building a practice, think very carefully on what system you choose, Mac or Windows, and think very hard on your email system, Google is excellent, but don't expect an easy ride. I had some difficulty in setting up my Mac and one call to the Apple help line and it was sorted, try doing that with Google, almost none existent.

As for the Apple shops, the genius bar, and the shop staff are excellent, I have access to two shops, one in Solihull and one in Birmingham, make the appointment online and in you go, they can usually sort any problem. Again try this with Google,

Todays photo is a screen grab I took of a tv show that looked at solar power in Singapore.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Konstrukshon CPD Archive up and running

I am happy to tell you, the old site archive of all several 1000 blogs I have made over the last 5 or so years is back on a domain :

So head over and use the search button to read all those old blogs

I will add a link to all my sites and also to the current domain at Blogger.

For some reason Google Blogger will not allow the files size wordpress exports to be imported into blogger asking you to reduce it, !!

But the free site will allow it and when I tried it, I had no problems, even sent me an email to tell me all is well and site working .

Monday, 21 March 2016

8 Types of Big Data for a construction Project

A single large construction  project is going to collect a lot of data throughout the design and construction phase of its life culminating with all the data it will collect during its operational life of say 60 years. but the types of data can easily be split split into 6 different types of data.

When we look at all the data we generate for a building you might just look at it all and think we are entering the world of Big Data, but here we have to be a little careful on the word "big" as we compare different uses of the word Big, when we look at the 2560 terabytes of data that retailer Walmart collects every hour by capturing customer transactions, and the vast size of all the videos on /youtube although spread over many servers its estimated to be in the several Exabytes,

by comparison Birmingham city Council in 2007 had 7 terabyte of storage just for there immediate data only storage needs for  roughly 35,000 staff, this probable That this doubled every year meaning after 19 years of planning going digital and so many services adding new data types they must be in the 1000 terabytes or more, of data storage.

So is our small building to be considered big data, not on its own no,considering the list below I can see all a medium buildings data being kept within say 2 terabytes, but when we start to build our building file structure and link it into a big city data scenario them perhaps yes it is big data, not because of its data storage but use of data, from external sources, like weather centres and traffic data whose storage could easily be considered big data.

Add to that the handling problem from the shear size to the vast array of file types the different types of data and the sorts of error we are bound to see that are so common in big data sets.

So what are we looking at, my best guess is a building well need 7 different file types :

Design & Cad Data

There will be a large collection of CAD files related to any building from simple details to the larger floor files to 3D files for almost all the major cad packages, to ifc files from nay different members of the team as they update their drawings. Plus of course survey files from simple data loggers to point cloud laser scans. Its here all the emails and letters scanned in will be stored for reference.

Quick data

This will be for those files associated with immediate access, marketing web site. a more open access, ideal for web site and public data.

Related Data

Purchased data will form part of the life cycle of may building, looking at weather patterns, sensor data on incoming weather, met office data and the like, stored for easy access by the buildings autonomous software.

Dark Data

Video , pictures and audio files are now forming a great archive record and from the initial survey through to the eventual demolition a building might have several hours of footage taken.

Contractor Data

Manufacturer data of all equipment purchased, by the contractor I differentiate this from the CAD files as it will be generated by the contractors purchases of all materials and equipment, and will be detailed enough to see say an individual toilet purchased and where it was installed in the building.

Sensor Data

Over the life of a building it will record the sensor data from many thousands of small sensors embedded within the fabric of the building, some pinging data hourly some hardly at all, but some on a more frequent basis of perhaps minute by minute.

Operational data

For a building to organise its self it needs to know whats going on in its rooms, so activity booking diaries will be the norm, its not huge, but needs to be accounted for in my data types, Also stored here are the buildings operational or autonomous programs and the add on suites to support it , with records of heating temperatures and fuel use and the like.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Standardised process for the sharing of product data

I see this a lot in the construction industry, a committee wants standardisation. The BIM Task Group in association with the Construction Products Association, BIM4M2 and CIBSE are looking to develop a standardised process for the sharing of product data, You have to ask why, does it not go against the very nature of the development of big data, what Hadoop, Hana and all the other new ways to view and analyse large datasets, which I might add do not need standardisation, rather the opposite.

Large projects need to establish data use before it gets to site, develop rules to show how relations are make and kept, data shared, looking to associations for advice not rules, but thats for an individual project, and it may change as new projects are started, adding the benefits of hind sight and advances seen in the industry, but thats for a good project team to sort out, not a committee.

I sit back an wonder who is pushing for this and why, I feel like writing a paper on this and submitting it, just to outline the danger of rigid control, which seems to be at the for front of the way BIM is being developed, at least in the UK. The USA seem to be a little more open and allow the system to develop on its own.

I had a similar conversation yesterday when I had a tech chat with the some colleagues re the use of Point Cloud and laser scanning, 3D CAD files, IFC, and how we can pull them together, and we have not even scratched to ground re data. As for planning don't even go there.

Are we not inventing a new way of designing and transmitting that design to the construction team, and developing the use of the data we generate, so why control that development with rules right at the start of its development. 3D its use of BIM, and the way we are using it must be aloud to develop on it's own, we the market place will trial and develop, look for new ways, pull in new methods, and most of all talk and develop. Adding rules now, just throttles any thought process.

I am open to the rules if they come in the form of an academic paper for all to see, read, and act upon, but free thinking and market development is the way forward.

You might notice I have not mentioned the law in this piece yet, the courts scare me, and I fear once they get involved because of a spat between contractor and who ever, they will impose rules without any thought to any one but the winning party, but I can live in hope here.

You can add the teaching of this subject, to the list of why I want a free and open development, I am supposed to develop young minds, teach them to think, look at whats happening, and add to the development, not sit there and say, ok we need to control with a few rules, might get out of hand here !.
I want to teach students to look at a 3D cad file and ask, what BIM information can I add that will increase the data pool, that some one will find useful, adding open industry rules that prevent this is wrong. But adding rules to a contract controlling a job is correct.

Food for thought I hope.

Todays photo has no relation to the subject, just a dining table laid for 6 for a dinner party. Notice the gap down the middle, ready for the Terrines. Wine to the far right so I can keep our guests topped up.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Time Lapse Video - So much to see

I am a massive fan of Time Lapse video, I think its an excellent way to teach construction, the number of site videos out there is well worth trawling. But this video is all about weather, and shadow, its effect on a building and how the building deals with it, although the last part is so up the the lecturer to explain, I take my students on a walk though the old Birmingham to show this.
But for the mean time, take a look at how the weather creeps in, and brightens up, plus the shadows.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Thursday, 10 March 2016

An unpredictable Future

For all you futurist out there this report is not only required reading, but I might suggest its the basis of so many changes we are going to see in all walks of life.

Entitled "Samsung Shows What Our Somewhat-Upredictable Future Will Look Like" , and its going to so different, to what ever you think now, and its all down the the unpredictability of progress,

All manufacturers need to read this, and start thinking, what is going to affect my business plan, no wrong answers and certainly plenty of right answers, all suggestions are valid, the article makes big on the IoT and I for one so agree, but we need to break free from rigid thinking and open up ideas. I have just uploaded it to my Evernote Account.

My presentation on this, wakes up an audience, and asks so many questions, I have no firm concrete answers, but so many paths to suggest following.

Visit my Web page, for my list of presentations, including this presentation "The Manufacturers Glass ball"

I will go over what is, may be, and could be, for the manufacturer who sells into the Construction Industry.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

In or Out of Europe for the Architectural Technologist

Over the next few weeks as we head for the poles on the 5th May 2016, we are going to get some pressure from both sides to vote one way or the other.

Foe me its not a simple yes or no, I have many questions, and all I can say at present is I am errring on the Exit side, mostly because of the way law is added to the UK by none elected people, and who I have no control over,,,,,,  but I will change my side several times in the weeks to come, so before I final head one way or the other I need to ask some questions, research some facts and read a little,

But one area I have been asked is, will an exist affect the UK Architectural Technology Market. The simple answer is I have no real idea, I have a gut feel and its more the labour market for site more than anything else, but perhaps we need to sit and think things through a little.

So my starting list of items to consider looks like this :


  • We loose a wide pool of general contractor labour
  • Some materials might be more expensive
  • Jobs for local projects probably will increase as European offices open up UK branch for tax and administrative reasons
  • I have not really seen many projects in the EU being that important to UK Architects, so leaving might not matter here, Big global projects for the like of Zaha Hadid and Foster offer no change.
  • But the question of investment in the Uk still bothers me, a lot to be looked at on this point
  • Some materials might be limited or have a import tax added, costs might go up, manufacturing here, is it better
  • BBA certificate cross boarders never really worked so no change
  • Current British standards harmonised to EU:BS might revert back, but why bother they are good standards and keeping in sink will help even if we leave.
  • What do the USA think, they have always stated the UK is their contact with the EU, does leaving alter that, good or bad !
  • The political question of England Ireland and Scotland, what if one votes the opposite way to England, this 2015  article by Jane Merrick on the independent site explores this.
  • We still have a large pool of contractor staff
  • BS will inevitable remain the same
  • Same goes for Building Regs
  • Material supply remain the same
  • Life goes on no change
As you can see, a lot to think about, so I shall come back to this post several times I think in the weeks to come, to update and add comment.

But in the meantime take a look at this excellent article on Building Specifier aimed squarely at the construction industry by Jamie Smith on leaving or not the EU, and this article in the Huffington Post by Simon Thomas argues some good points on Investment and the problems of leaving.

I am beginning to see that its not just a question of Architectural Jobs or just the Construction industry, there are a lot of interwoven links and internal political problems to be considered.

Take a long look at this article in this sat Daily Mail Melvyn King ex head of the Bank of England talks about Europe, seems to me it's another reason to leave.

A new phone or Not - and the Cicret

I blogged this about a year ago, I think the Cicret its so cool, I want one, but as always I shall wait, I currently have a simple iPhone 5 and for the most part it does what I want, but I live on a cusp between Apple and Google, its manageable but some time inconvenient, so when I started receiving calls about my contract coming to an end, I started to thing about what I shall go to next, I must admit, a Google Nexus is becoming interesting,  but so is almost all of the current google Android phones, so I was particularly pleased to see this smart little devise is Android based.

I still have not made up my mind, after all my current phone the Apple iPhone 5 works very well, so perhaps a break from the spiral of phone purchase, maybe I stay with Apple, the local Apple store is so good, and Google is,,,, well absent from the high street, and this also works with Apple, oh the choice I face.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Apple Campus Architecture

It can't have escaped your attention Apple are building a new Campus, there are loads of videos on Youtube, but this article on Mashable is the most up to date.

One thing that is not really in this article is the shear scale of the project, something the video's below show.

 I looked up the plans again and can't wait till its opened and finished, but one thing I noticed was the small circular building at the bottom of the plot that seems to have the roof held up with just the glass, you have to read the article, Fosters have in my book broken the mould, and made glass so much more a structural item, I can't wait to see the final views, although take a look at the video below, I think this building is now complete, and roof on. See the latest video at the end of this Article.

There is a latest video, made in March 2016 what a difference a year makes

Weather seasons and Shadow Length

I am reversing things today, normally I add my little bit on todays photo last, but todays photo is the main theme of todays notes. It was, whilst I was driving back from Tenbury Wells, or ir it just Tenbury, that I noticed that the hop fields are being planted and restrung, so what I here you ask, well its all part of the weather, and the natural cycle of things, and my natural love of all thing beer related.

I have mentioned the use of weather as part of detailing so many times, but driving along I just saw the fields and the long rows of poles with the long strings that the plants climb up, that in its self was so worth stopping for.

I have a moleskin full of things to mention, but I just liked the idea of the season changing, plants waking up, and a change in Temperature, although It's probably short lived and we will get freezing weather before the weekend, strange weather is afoot, but one thing thats not going to change is the length and angle of shadows I say not change but as we know each day brings a predictable alteration something we still fail to predict in the weather !, believe it or not I saw the poles first thing in the morning on the way out and the shadows were long and thin, but on the way back the shadows had moved and shortened. I thought of so many things in that instant, my lecture on the Earth spinning and moving about the sun, and lat and long, and the long shadows we now see on so many buildings.

Shadow is a fundamental part of Architecture, yet so often it a part of design thats short lived, we thing about it early on and thats it, but its something that will be with a building to the last seconds of its life, and will change as new buildings are added to neighboring plots, and the effect on its appearance and performance will change, so will the feel or what I call the sole of the building.

I want my students to take time at some point in the year to sit and watch shadows and their effect on a building, I doubt they will have time, but one can hope.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Tree Preservation Order

For so long I seemed to work on large projects devoid of trees, even when I worked in insulation, supporting Styrofoam insulation, the only trees I saw were growing in rain water gutters and I might add, doing very well. But they were not of interest to the local authority, and certainly not worth saving, it was only in later years when I started the extensions that I came up against TPO's, or Tree Preservation Orders.

So what are we talking about, well trees have certain rights, the planning portal has a lot on this subject, but the general opening page gives it straight :

A Tree Preservation Order is an order made by a local planning authority in England to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity. An Order prohibits the:
  • cutting down
  • topping
  • lopping
  • uprooting
  • wilful damage
  • wilful destruction

of trees without the local planning authority’s written consent. If consent is given, it can be subject to conditions which have to be followed. In the Secretary of State’s view, cutting roots is also a prohibited activity and requires the authority’s consent.

Local planning authorities can make a Tree Preservation Order if it appears to them to be ‘expedient in the interests of amenity to make provision for the preservation of trees or woodlands in their area‘.

Authorities can either initiate this process themselves or in response to a request made by any other party. When deciding whether an Order is appropriate, authorities are advised to take into consideration what ‘amenity’ means in practice, what to take into account when assessing amenity value, what ‘expedient’ means in practice, what trees can be protected and how they can be identified.

In my experience, local authorities seem to take a view that all trees are subject to a TPO, so best to check, before removing it, and don't forget, this applies both to clumps of trees, and hedge rows.

You might also want to get hold of a local Arboricultural Consultant  a tree man/Woman, who will advice on the species, and how to deal with it, the link I have added is to the National Association for Arboriculturalists.

This also heads directly into BIM, for a long time I surveyed trees for local parks and private clients, we added tree symbols with a lot of data attached, from simple species and latin names to tree height, canopy spread, trunk size, and general condition, plus it was linked to a massive database for the various reports made over the years, we even made a dead or died field, this tree was then hidden away, but not forgotten, as we so often had to print maps with dead trees on, colour coded for years or months that they died, showing disease patterns across estates. Exporting this information both as IFC, but mostly as Cobie of spreadsheet files.

We also noted the types of trees that used or consumed a lot of water, Black Popular for instance, very interesting in location of buildings and trying to remove them, the effects on the construction can be,,,,,, interesting. But more on this in a new blog I am planning.

There is a lot to cover in this subject, so my suggestion is to head over to the planning portal and read.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Location & Site or Block Plan

Most if not all planing applications require both a location plan and a block or site plan.

The Location plan, as the name suggests, locates the site, it should be at a scale of 1:1250, or if its a really big site, then 1:2500, it should be based upon an up to date OS map,  The Planning portal says it should be on an A4 sheet, I can't remember doing this ever, all mine are on A3 or larger.

It should show sufficient road, road names, houses/buildings to locate the site, a north point and the site outlined in Red, I tend to use a poly line with a nice thick pen, and a little tone to shade the area.

A blue line can also be used to show land owned by the client that is close by or adjacent to the site in question.

The Site or Block Plan should be drawn at a larger scale I tend to use 1:500 although it can be 1:100 or 1:200, it should show the proposed development in relation to the site boundary again it should show north. Again it should show relevant buildings and road, and names, rights of way, trees hard surfacing boundary treatment.

I tend to always buy OS digital maps online from my provider, its easy to do, and I get the benefit of being able to import it directly into my cad package easily. they always come as dwg files, and are always geolocated. Be aware though, OS maps are in metric meters, so as we almost always use mm to draw in, they need conversion.

So often the maps do not have all the road names on then, so I try and use google maps to supplement the information.

The title block I use, should also have the scales of the map, and its relation to the page size being used, ie 1:500@ A3, so often we use pdf files to submit to the planners and this is a requirement, I have seen plans returned because its not on the title block.

I also like to see the OS co-ordinates to the north point together with a sun rise, sun set path added to the north point, with lat and long of the site centre, although I so often forget to do this.

When using OS maps for planning we should show the Crown Copt right, I tend to do this in the notes section of my title block

All this and a little more can be found on the planning portal info page on using maps

Thursday, 3 March 2016

How far can we take 3D

How far can we take 3D, I had a conversation with a planning professor, recently, and he had no idea as to the use of even existence of Point Cloud, and was only just aware of how the industry is heading towards 3D and BIM, reason, he still received most if not all his planning applications the old way, simple elevations and plans.

I started to explain how the industry is heading, the use of 3D and BIM how data rich our files are now, by just clicking onto any portion of the structure a full spec of that material will appear, why do I need to make flat 2D drawings.

His first argument was the way they have a responsibility t the general public to take in comment, if they can't read the drawings,,,,, etc, my argument was to show a 3D image and compare it to a flat 2D elevation, the 3D image was easier to read.

Next point cloud, again he was astounded that we were at such a level, as we all know the street scene to a planner is the first point of reference to a planning application, how will it fit, adding our 3D image to a point cloud 3D render made the difference.

So the question is can we move forward, do flat 2D elevations and old style specs still have a place in planning, or should we be pushing to to a more 3D world. I like to think so but there will be stiff opposition the paper world planners still live in, the files being electronic, the public, how will the planner read the files, Solibri being the obvious answer.

Adding building Regs to the same list comes a very near second, but I am glad to say, their interaction with the CAD files we use is in my experience a little more up market than planners. but paper is still king, this we need to tackle.

As for the photo, see yesredays blog on weather, I just love to flow of weather round the planet,

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Global Warming myth or fact

You might well ask if global warming is myth or fact, simple answer fact. One again the weather is showing an increase in temp, although you might not believe it, I walk my dog most days, and believe me some times I arrive back home thinking, its a myth, I am so cold.

But yu only have to look at the global weather data to see whats realy going on. This excellent article on Slate, is a realy good round up with an excellent picture of the globes weather temps, together with some great stats and graphs.

OK so I stole the same photo for today, I hope the original author ric Holthaus forgives. The article is well written in that he outlines the problems and gives some excellent links for further reading and research. If you have time watch the Geoengineering video, its a look at the basic problems and some ideas to fix the damage.

I have long stated that as technologists we need to study weather, its what we detai against, and some of the norms and standards we used to use are now wrong, and its up to us to step back and rewrite some of these standards.