RIAS Quarterly Chapter Report July 2019

We were asked to write something related to the theme of health and well-being, so I’ll try to at least be concomitant to that theme, no matter how tedious.

I was on a train recently and found myself reading an arduous article about Niksen and the health benefits of doing nothing. I gave up after the first 2 paragraphs and stared out of the train window, pleased with the irony of actually doing nothing instead of reading about doing nothing. So if you give up reading this after the second paragraph I hope that you’ve chosen to do something equally as ‘niksen-esque’, it’s good for you.

We recently had an inspirational and informative CPD presentation on Sustainable Construction, presented by Sandy Halliday (GAIA Research) and Chris Stewart (Collective Architecture). Chris focused on the policy side of Sustainable Construction while Sandy presented practical case studies and examples of various scales and types, from a Japanese microbrewery to a Swiss housing complex for the homeless. The presentation was timely, given the recent climate emergency announcements by various governments, and the UN advising that humanity is hurtling towards extinction if we do not ACT NOW.

There are documented stress issues related to worrying about climate change (and our impending extinction). Our policymakers must lead the way to encourage and enable professionals and the public to turn that stress into action. The RIAS can play a vital part in that policy making, if we can get beyond the current navel-gazing, which is unfortunately not ‘niksen-esque’.

The Sustainable Construction CPD took place at the Maggie’s Centre in Aberdeen. If you are an architect living in Scotland and don’t know what a Maggie’s Centre is then you may have been living under a large rock with no WiFi. Across Scotland we have some wonderful Maggie’s Centres designed by world renowned and nationally acclaimed architects. What the centres are, architecturally, is very much related to what they do. They are unique buildings providing help for anyone affected by cancer. They provide a variety of spaces; inspirational, informal and intimate, where you can talk to and get support from a range of professionals. The centres are staffed by cancer support specialists, benefits advisors, nutritionists, therapists and psychologists, all providing support in whichever way best suits the visitor. The staff and users that we’ve spoken to are all proud of their building and have all experienced how the architecture can positively impact their health and well-being.

ASA members have been taking part in and supporting the Maggie’s Culture Crawl in Aberdeen, which sees buildings open their doors and provide ‘cultural’ entertainment of all sorts. The event is described as a cross between Doors Open Day and the Edinburgh Festival. This year will be my first year taking part, and I can’t wait to feel the effect an event like this can have on my health and well-being.

We thanked them on the evening, but we’d like to thank Chris & Sandy once again for their presentations, and their complimentary words about the ASA. We’d also like to thank the Maggie’s Centre Aberdeen for the use of their buildings and facilities, and we would encourage you to look into your local Centre (they’re very welcoming) and get involved with some of their events.

Hopefully that is concomitant enough to the theme.

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