This week I went to Ecobuild: “the world’s biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment” which takes place every March at the Excel Centre, Royal Vistoria Dock in East London. This venue conjures up something particularly bland, given that “Excel” is the name of this grey destination – for me, this word makes me think of Microsoft office, or something I like to stick on my c.v., so I can understand if for most Dead Curious readers Excel is slightly off the beaten track. Business as usual is, however, swapped for Ecobuild, an annual event with a slightly greener model, which may be more palatable than usual for anyone keen on design and architecture, the future of the human built environment, or simply those with a budding interest in sustainability.
As the official website gives practically no information about the how Ecobuild started and is generally a little staid, in this article I’m going to give you few “hard facts” about the trade fair (phew!!). Although as an aside I found out about the genesis of Ecobuild in 2004, and how Ecobuild’s extraordinary rise as indie eco trade fair led to a sale of 51 million pounds to UBM. Something here may whiff of a commercial sell out, so I reckon banging on about this won’t lend the trade show much kudos in the green arena! Word on the ground is that Ecobuild has gone too mainstream to truly promote the cause. We’ve all heard that before, therefore I’d suggest that those who have a PhD in architectural sustainability or a fifty-year career in energy efficient buildings should avoid this event.
Instead I’m going to whet anyone else’s appetite for things sustainability by setting out how this exciting nexus may appeal to the casual visitor or to you, venerated readers, who want to find material options to reduce the environmental impact of your homes and businesses.
If the word TRADE FAIR is screaming in your ears at this moment, let me dispel some aural antagonism. Do not let the commercial aspects of Ecobuild, or of any trade fair for that matter put you off seeking out the gems you can find here. Like any well co-ordinated show, there are different activity options so you’re bound to find something satisfactory. Seminars and talks cover, for example, future designs for the cityscape, passive and zero carbon housing, resource and energy efficiency and how artificial intelligence is slowly mapping out our houses and urban developments.
This may all sound like too much hard work, so let me tell you about the intelligent houses and smart city plans I saw from the ZED factory, which were definitely my favourite point of orientation in this massive building. I also kept my inner tech geek happy with the cool design installations, multi-media coves such as the “evolution of light” and solar powered bicycles. One of the things that struck me as a newcomer to Ecobuild is how surprisingly inspiring the built environment can be. As a consequence of “evolution of light” I’ll next be seeing this fabulous art and design exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. My love for the cityscape has also been invigorated by Ecobuild and I have spent a couple of walks seeping in the architectural delight of our fabulous capital. There is a vast range of interest points here at Ecobuild, so that laymen and women like myself can come away with some unexpected delights! For anyone with a hands-on attitude about changing either the size of their bills or impact on the environment, forage around in Ecobuild next year and see what comes up trump for you.
There are other benefits that arise from other attendees at the event as quite a few are pioneering! It can be incredibly rewarding for anyone to share their time with in the friendly atmosphere of people wanting to change the way in which we live, we consume energy and improving the comfort of our surrounding. This, as it were, “innocent bystander” often got drawn into thought-provoking conversations and heated debates which leave the palate sated if you come to Ecobuild looking for information. The speed of technological development in general is clearly impacting the built environment. This means that many designers had plans for the future which are exciting – I was left with a shining impression of how we can achieve our targets of a sustainable way of life which are so important in sight of the fact we often hear so much doom and gloom about the future of the planet.