I love Grand Designs, it’s been an inspiration to me and is at least partially to blame for this project. But the latest series has so far defined grand in terms of pounds and pence rather than any more noble or aesthetic value. So far we’ve seen rich people building rich peoples houses – grand in terms of Victorian upper class values of opulence and decadence, but out of step with 21st century sensibilities and environmental anxieties.
There have been occasional glimpses of green technology and design – I think a ground source heat pump has popped up at least once, these buildings have obviously been well insulated and therefore energy efficient and I imagine all that glass has been installed with solar gain in mind. But these are not key topics within the programmes and are not being highlighted as I think they should be in a world where sustainable building & living are crucial issues that we need to tackle with tenacity.
Perhaps it’s not the job of Grand Designs to promote the green agenda, perhaps it’s the job of Grand Designs to be a ‘pimp my crib’ show – rich people in James Bond homes showing off to the rest of us. I don’t think that’s what Grand Designs started out to be and I hope it’s not what it now aspires to be now.
Kevin McCloud must shoulder some of the blame for this – I know he cares about sustainability, take for example his involvement with HAB housing (Happiness, Architecture and Beauty):
HAB is committed to creating communities which are a pleasure to live in and sustainable in the broadest sense.
…but the series so far, at least in my watching of it, has failed to get the balance right, failed to promote the sustainable perspective that must gain influence and priority in the development of buildings of all sorts.
In the words of McClouds namesake, Kevin Keegan:
‘I’m not disappointed – just disappointed.’
In the words of the song: emphasize the positive,
eliminate emphasize the negative – let’s have a frank and honest evaluation of buildings within the context of the current day, not just praise people for building shopping centres to live in. Perhaps the rest of the series will live up to my hopesâ€¦.?