How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand

“A fascinating and indefinable book … How Buildings Learn is a hymn to entropy, a witty, heterodox book dedicated to kicking the stuffing out of the proposition that architecture is permanent and that buildings cannot adapt.”
– Stephen Bayley

“Evolutionary design is healthier than visionary design.”
– Stewart Brand

How Buildings Learn is Stewart Brand’s remarkable and memorable book which proposes – convincingly – that “buildings work best when constantly refined and reshaped by their occupants”.

What, Brand asks, “makes some buildings keep getting better, and others not?” The approach he took was to “look at buildings after they’re built. That’s when the users take over and begin to reshape the building to suit their own, real needs. What kinds of buildings work well with that evolution, and why do so many buildings work so badly?”

“Magazine architecture” is the phrase Brand coins to describe the sort of famous, or would-be famous, buildings which are functional failures. “A major culprit is architectural photography. Clare Cooper Marcus said it most clearly: ‘You get work through getting awards, and the award system is based on photographs. Not use. Not context.’ Tales were told of ambitious architects specifically designing their buildings to photograph well at the expense of performing well.”

Seek out the book – it is out of print, but secondhand copies are easy to find online; and the six-part TV series broadcast on BBC2 in 1997, can be found here.

Harry James Gardens and Landscapes

If you are making plans for your garden, we think Harry is your man: you can visit his website here.

He carries out brickwork, decking, fencing, maintenance, paving, planting, pruning, timberwork and turfing.

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Professional curtain installations

We recently met and worked alongside Simon Roberts, of Professional Curtain Installations.

Simon runs the business with his brother, and, as specialists, they provide a top quality, reliable service.

Find out more, and make contact with Simon, here.

In praise of Xero

Xero logoSince we started using Xero — the excellent online accounting software — in 2013, we’ve been acting as unpaid trade envoys for this excellent invention.

All the tiresome, error-prone paraphernalia of traditional, Bob Cratchit-style accounting — the arid crinkle of the bank statements, the caffeine-addled hours of prodding the calculator, the boredom of the Excel spreadsheet and the sheaves of joyless, utilitarian receipts — can be drop-kicked satisfyingly into the nearest bin.

Xero sweeps it all aside by importing your business transactions automatically, day by day, from the bank account. This eliminates errors, and you check off and reconcile each bank statement line as it is created … the result? Your accounts essentially make themselves. You will do less work, and will be rewarded with more information about your business, more accurately presented.

We recommend it highly.

The Xero Dashboard from Xero on Vimeo.

Exterior painting — Edwardian window repair and redecoration

We worked hard to bring back these Edwardian fixed casement windows, which were almost destroyed by wet rot.  

The open and exposed westerly aspect — combined with the wettest winter on record in 2013/14 — meant that the water penetration was particularly severe.

The team removed all of the damaged timber, treated it and made strong repairs with the excellent Repair Care products.

The photographs below show one and the same window.

casements