Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Practice makes perfect

Ian, Chris and I joined the Retail Partnership Board bus trip this morning out to the Wentloog Industrial estate where the SD2 developers have their off-site storage facility, and the design test bed for the shopping mall, whose foundations and basement level are currently in the throes of completion. The test-bed is a 90 foot tall 120 foot long life size replica of a section of the mall, with shop fronts on two levels. Here computer designs are forged into physical realities and materials tested in situ, to find out how well the dream fits the reality.

The architect who took us all over the test-bed spoke eloquently and confidently about a process which, when designs are realised, turns into a 'trial and error' - they have to prove that what's proposed will work, so there's a patient process of evaluation, discussion of aesthetics, durability of materials, safety of design detail, practicability of concealing services and supplies in ways that are non intrusive, right down to working out the safest and most effective way to clean roofing windows, and ensuring that pavement grouting enhances the floor's appearance rather than making it look seedy.

"We ask you not to take photographs", he said, "Because nothing you see, as you see it now, can be guaranteed to be exactly the same when the job is complete. We're changing things all the time, in an effort to come up with the best looking, most durable and practical design - something that will last." £1.2 million is being spent on the test-bed, a fraction of a percent of the total cost. It will save many times more that amount, preventing costly errors during or after construction. In the end, I hope that commitment to excellence regardless of expense will prove more cost effective and lasting a monument to twenty-first century ambition than the usual 'competitive' building practices.

By way of refreshing contract, after lunch a Lent devotional hour with half a dozen ladies of the Tuesday Group, reflecting upon Isaiah's Suffering Servant songs. Then home, to have another go at setting up the RSS site feed for the podcasts. I need someone else to tell me if I've been successful now, using a computer that isn't mine.

1 comment:

jdowns said...

Just to say thank you for coming to St Teilo's Patronal to preach, I found it refreshing to hear somebody new (to me at least). I admire how you're trying to bring the church firmly into this century!