SB11 Helsinki – Day 4

A bleak start to the day, and a bleaker end.  UN-Habitat is that part of the organisation which is responsible for urban slums, and its principle remit as far as I can understand is about endeavouring to ensure that the fast approaching 1 billion slum-dwellers on the planet can live in decent housing in a sustainable way!!!!  The keynote session this morning focussed on this area.  And I think I’ve got the occasional challenge.  1 billion people living in slums just seems unfathomable to me.

Professor Greg Keefe from Leeds University gave an interesting session on design work on an Extra Care scheme in Leek, Staffordshire that has been undertaken to adapt to climate change rather than to fight it.  Data sets from Exeter University postulate that by 2050, the UK will be experiencing hotter summers, and by 2080 these will have heightened to the extent that extreme temperatures in the region of 45 degrees Celsius could be reached….frightening!!!  2050 – we will enjoy a climate similar to that of Nice, and by 2080, we could be living in Casablanca.  We also have the prospect of 5 x Hurricane Katrinas to look forward to per year at that stage!!! His project is about adapting the building to account for these “inevitable” consequences.  His delivery, whilst bleak in content, was refreshing!!!  I told him afterwards that it was a lot better than his delivery in Building Services at the University of Salford in 1990 when he lectured me during my degree.  I know we weren’t discussing climate change in those days….I do remember direct and indirect hot water systems, but solar panels were never involved.  At that time we were only two years away from the Rio Earth Summit!!!!  This summit considered fossil fuels and energy uses, and we are almost 20 years on from it.  Professor Keefe’s innovative design solutions are not being included by his client as their financial model does not extend to account for 2050 let alone 2080.  As was mentioned at the beginning of the week, the longer term view must now be considered in the context of this agenda.

Gareth Davies 

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