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his is the vision of Richard Rogers, the internationally renowned architect who is already designing the buildings of the future. Rogers’ most famous building in the UK was created from a tangle of exposed ducts and stainless steel for Lloyd’s of London, but many of his truly futurist work is for Japanese clients.

Rogers’ designs are at the cutting edge of modern, as opposed to modernist, architecture and working in Japan has allowed him to break free of the vernacular or ‘in keeping’ style that constrains many British urban projects. There are exceptions, however, such as hi-fl company Linn Products’ headquarters near East Kilbride - the only Richard Rogers building in Scotland. Linn’s brief for Rogers was for a ‘smart’ factory which provides flexibility for the company’s non-production line approach to manufacturing hi-fi equipment.

The solution suggested by Rogers was based on a system of computer-controlled vehicles which would allow the factory workspace to be reconfigured at the touch of a button,

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I I I2 j, 3 moving workstations and components around I I i I I“. g ":3 an open-plan factory floor. But in contrast to I l I I I I I ' *3 this hi-tech solution to Linn’s unusual

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requirements, Rogers opted to use natural heat and ventilation.

‘In many ways this is an “intelligent” building,’ says Linn managing director Ivor Tiefenbrun. ‘One of the things Rogers is best at is being smart enough to do the obvious and locate the building in its environment in an intelligent way. The features that people think make buildings “smart” are things like heating control, but this is smart in terms of its function and operation.’

There has been a noticeable move away from the kind of artificially controlled environments, according to the Energy Design Advice Scheme. the Government-funded body set to advise architects on eco-friendly building design. ‘The technology is increasingly being focused on the design rather than the control of the buildings,’ says EDAS advisor Lori McElroy.

A building that was based whole-heartedly on the ‘sealed box’ approach to controlling the

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admit. when you see Sylvester Stallone abseiling down a mountainside. it looks deceptively easy.’ You. the pop—culturally literate reader. are supposed to think: ‘a—ha here comes the clil'thanger‘.

Now he has ditched the ‘historical‘ settings of previous novels. Kerr says he finds this ability to pepper his books with pop culture references liberating. ‘I didn’t write it to be made into a film. but I did write it with lots of films in mind.” says Kerr. ‘1 was imagining what it would be like ifTarantino made a disaster movie.‘ With filming due to start next spring in Tony and Ridley Scott’s Shepperton studios. it‘ll be interesting to see how this very lilmic novel translates to screen. T_l Gridiron by Philip Kerr is published on 8 June by Charm and ll’indus at £14.99. The author reads from the novel at Glasgow’s C CA on Monday 13 June at 7pm.

Robot control: one of the computer guided vehlcles that patrol Llnn's factory


‘Technology will offer us more control rather than less. The buildings of the future will be more like robots than temples. Like chameleons, they will adapt to their environment.’

office environment was Scottish Widows’ brown glass headquarters in Edinburgh, which cocked a snook to the city’s traditionalists when it was built twenty years ago. But when the expanding life assurance company commissioned Glasgow-based architects the Building Design Partnership to build its new headquarters on the Port Hamilton gap site near Lothian Road, it was written into the brief that the windows should open.

‘We are trying to get away from the sealed box with Big Brother pushing the buttons,’ says senior BDP architect Graham McClements, who is working on the £60 million Scottish Widows project. ‘Allowing people to open windows gives the occupants more of a perception of control over their environment.’

Note the word ‘perception’; McClements admits that when an office worker opens or closes a window it will only have a minimal effect on the building’s temperature. ‘There has to be some central control to ensure efficient running of the building it can’t be done by a committee of 1500 people,’ he says.

As in Philip Kerr’s novel Gridiron, the new Scottish Widows building will have a centralised building management system (BMS) with a powerful mainframe looking after security, fire detection and energy management. The chances of the computer turning nasty are slim, however.

‘If there was a major computer breakdown it would be a problem and the building’s environment could start to lose control in terms of temperature and humidity,’ says McClements. ‘But generally things are designed to be fail-safe - people wouldn’t be locked in!’ Scottish Widows staff waiting to move into their new headquarters in 1997 will no doubt be relieved to hear that. (Eddie Gibb)

The List 2-15 Jun 199513