Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Body image and the media

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  • Dinah Dunavan,

    Have watched Grand Designs a few times and find it a tad irritating. Rich people farting on about sustainability and then building massive houses. The episodes I've caught have all been about houses built several years ago. Maybe they're being sold in mortgagee auctions now.
    I'd rather watch a show that gave some tips on how to build a really sustainable house at a low cost.

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2008 • 183 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    Rich people farting on about sustainability and then building massive houses.

    Not always. One of the best for me was the forester/ charcoal maker who had the rights to build in the forest and used materials mainly from the forest. When he was revisited it was cool to see the additions to both his family and the house.

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I'd rather watch a show that gave some tips on how to build a really sustainable house at a low cost

    Also check out the episodes about the couple building the rammed-earth-and-tyre house in Brittany, or the Revisited ep last week about the ones renovating an old farm shed in Italy. They were both very, very budget.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I like the way this conversation is going.The promotion of British architectural critics as a stereotype of hotness is relevant to my interests.

    Roffleshire.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The biggest thing that has struck me watching "Grand Designs" over time is the sheer inefficiency of British building methods.

    Does anyone remember the episode where they got a home made in a German factory that was so clean I felt dirty just watching it, and just three efficient Germans turned up on time, on the appointed day, with all the right paper work and plans and they set to work immediately weithout so much as a cup of tea and a think?

    Everything fitted, they had all the right tools, they worked hard for the whole day and if the finish was off by .002mm they were horrified, and replaced it. And still the whole place was built in about a fortnight.

    Germans are really, really rich and they are the biggest exporter by value in the world, and to me that episode explained everything to me as to why. That episode gave meaning to me about what a high productivity workplace/work force actually looks like. Incredibly high standards, highly automated, highly trained, very well organised, very well equipped and very, very well thought out.

    Oh and seeing how the Brits build things on the Living Channel - largely unreinforced brick and mortar held up largely by gravity - I pray they never have an earthquake over about 5 on the Richter scale.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2138 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Germans are really, really rich and they are the biggest exporter by value in the world, and to me that episode explained everything to me as to why. That episode gave meaning to me about what a high productivity workplace/work force actually looks like. Incredibly high standards, highly automated, highly trained, very well organised, very well equipped and very, very well thought out.

    I suspect it has something to do with the fact that the class system is traditionally far less institutionalised in mainland Europe than in Britain. Case in point - compare the fortunes of the British car industry with that of the rest of Europe (and maybe Japan for that matter). Unions at mainland European car makers seem to have been no less militant than their British counterparts, yet Britain's car industry utterly self-destructed while in the rest of Europe it has soldiered on. Seemingly even without the guiding/coercive hand of the state.

    The Dog & Lemon Guide has more on the whole affair.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5328 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I tell you the other revelation from British renovation/building shows in general - how much "the state" controls what you can do with a "listed" building, or with a building in, say, a chocolate box village.

    Here people believe they have right conferred directly by the almighty himself to chop down a 200 year old Pohutukawa if it blocks a postage stamp view of the sea from their upstairs balcony.

    In the U.K. if the building is in an area of beauty or is listed you can't even change the colour of your front door without all sorts of permission.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2138 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Does anyone remember the episode where they got a home made in a German factory that was so clean I felt dirty just watching it, and just three efficient Germans turned up on time, on the appointed day, with all the right paper work and plans and they set to work immediately weithout so much as a cup of tea and a think?

    That was glooooorious, and I believe the beginning of McCloud's passionate love-affair with German building.

    Oh and seeing how the Brits build things on the Living Channel - largely unreinforced brick and mortar held up largely by gravity - I pray they never have an earthquake over about 5 on the Richter scale.

    Veeeeery unlikely, given their geological location. It's the main reason Europe was such a good place for urban civilisation; in general a sad lack of exciting natural disasters, bar the odd volcano in the Mediterranean. They just have floods.

    (Speaking of, I'm much enjoying that flood miniseries thingy that was on TV 2 last night. Basically, if it involves a natural disaster destroying a major city, I'll watch it, and it's fascinating to see how much better the British do it than the Americans - people act in a logical fashion! There is dwelling on the human cost! Civil Defense people exist and have actual plans and ideas on what to do! It's lovely.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Here people believe they have right conferred directly by the almighty himself to chop down a 200 year old Pohutukawa if it blocks a postage stamp view of the sea from their upstairs balcony.

    After extensive study, I have reached the conclusion that New Zealanders have a psychological need to cut down trees. They stand in the way of Progress.

    In the U.K. if the building is in an area of beauty or is listed you can't even change the colour of your front door without all sorts of permission.

    We are making up for lost time and lost buildings by going to the other extreme (which itself is a concise history of New Zealand, but that is another story). Thus we see a determined effort to preserve those sheds on Queen's Wharf, despite the obvious facts that they are (a) ugly and (b) decrepit. When foreigners visit, we will be able to show them the sites on which our best Victorian and Modern buildings once stood and then show them the sheds we have preserved.

    Breaking news on that topic: Party Central is no more.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I suspect it has something to do with the fact that the class system is traditionally far less institutionalised in mainland Europe than in Britain. Case in point - compare the fortunes of the British car industry with that of the rest of Europe (and maybe Japan for that matter). Unions at mainland European car makers seem to have been no less militant than their British counterparts, yet Britain's car industry utterly self-destructed while in the rest of Europe it has soldiered on. Seemingly even without the guiding/coercive hand of the state.

    Myself I'd always thought the sad state of the British car industry was due to a combination of amateurish management, chronic underinvestment and a state devoted to financial industry above all. (If you think that continental carmakers are anything but propped up by the state, I'd like you to meet some folks from the French planning department. And their colleagues in Germany. And Sweden.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Good to hear Party Central is no more. Hopefully Auckland will be able to be celebrated a bit more.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I have no problem with trying to treat Queens Wharf as a marketing exercise for the RWC, but it needs to be funded appropriately. $80m is a joke. Telecom's annual marketing budget is far, far greater than that, and its income is a shade of what we get from tourism.
    If this is meant to be the greatest advertising opportunity ever for Brand NZ, then it damn well give it a sum of money that reflects that. The traditional shoe-string budget won't cut it, especially when it needs to be designed and completed in 18 months.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4090 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    I think the problem was not just the money but that nobody knew what the PM meant by Party Central, including the PM. You cannot make great architecture on a whim.

    The idea of a cruisehip terminal was pretty silly as well. Cruiseships are floating cities: their passengers want for nothing but souvenirs. Besides, the ships only visit during the summer, so the terminal would be pretty bleak for most of the year.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    That's too bad, I was looking forward to spending my time at the wharf in the Kitchen central.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    The cruiseship terminal was because the Princess Wharf is a failure as a Cruiseship Terminal and Public Open Space.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    Ah Keveeeeen how I love thee!

    Glad to see I'm not the only one who has a bit of a thing for Grand Designs - and the ever-lovely Kevin. I don't think I'd win in a battle for him with Joanna tho'. Damn!

    My fave ep ever (along with Craig and Tony) is the Ben the woodsman one. The Revisited version a coupla weeks ago was new to me and it was just so heartwarming to see how his life had completely changed since he first built the house - with the addition of a lovely wife and two lovely children as well as a completely beautiful house. I love the bit in that ep when Kevin arrives for a visit and he's almost stuck dumb by the unexpected beauty of the house - having imagined it was going to be "a bit hippie and wavy" and instead it's a poem to wood in all its glory. Fab.

    The Yorkshire castle one is pretty cool - especially when the 600-year-old inner wall collapses on film while they're still digging out the crap from inside. Or how about the insanely isolated cottage up a hill in Wales (complete with outbreak of foot & mouth halfway through the build), or the disused waterworks in Chesterfield where they end up having half a Mini as a desk in the living room cos the scale is so huge. And I also love the Huf house epi too (the ultra-efficient black&white German kit house).

    There are quite a few eco ones actually - here's a list of all the eps - scroll down to the Eco & Ethical Houses header to see 'em.

    And then there's Grand Designs Abroad - the Irish church (gorgeous!), the Spanish villa in the Andalucian hills, with the amazingly modern architecture, glass everywhere and insanely cool pools (and long-suffering Spanish builder who thought they were completely mad), the Swiss chalet (where Kevin first uttered the immortal words "je suis Keveeeeen"), and one of my other faves - the artists' retreat handmade villa in Puglia with its vaulted colonnade and mosaic-decorated garden.

    Just marvellous! I'll stop now...

    ETA: Oh no I won't - worst houses? The make-it-up-as-you-go barge where they used whatever recyclable bits and pieces they could find and that ended up so ugly it got thrown out of the only mooring they'd been able to find, and the massively dreadful McMansion in Spain built at random by the South African couple.

    OK I really will stop now...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 331 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    And I also love the Huf house epi too (the ultra-efficient black&white German kit house).

    He revisits this one next week on TV3.

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    Even Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs just called wood sensuous.

    Yes, but he'd just been talking about how steel framing was long, and rigid and strong, and wood was....well...cheap. Makes you wonder what he got up to during the commercial break.

    (Also amusing to hear the long, detailed explanation of the mysterious technology of...weatherboards. And they had to resort to "softwood" in place of the expensive cedar (which is also a softwood).
    Memo to NZ radiata pine marketing department - ditch "softwood", it sounds limp. Go with "Gymnosperm".
    Memo from Marketing - OMG yes! We can totally work with that! But do we need the "no" in there?)

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 251 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Memo from Marketing - OMG yes! We can totally work with that! But do we need the "no" in there?)

    That episode was sooo heading in the same direction my Dad built his house in the 80's Aboot 87 . The frame is all steel of I beams. The walls are actually mirrored one way glass. Interesting in itself.It is cubes like that episode all feeding off each other like the episode revisited.
    It is strong. Wood is always needed. Internal walls want warm. So much can be achieved within an internal wall. All wiring can be easily housed/hidden.Floors are a plethora of heating and wiring accommodating sound, visual, security and landscape.If you are doing it right you are dancing. :)
    As an aside SJD was great tonight at the Auckland Museum. Gotta go if you haven't done the late night stuff. It has become my reason for visiting the Museum, and Vanda Vitali is so cool. I think so anyway.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As an aside SJD was great tonight at the Auckland Museum. Gotta go if you haven't done the late night stuff. It has become my reason for visiting the Museum, and Vanda Vitali is so cool. I think so anyway.

    That was very cool -- they were only pushed into using that space (the room where they put the T Rex) because there was a Law Society do in the events centre end of the building, but it was like a nightclub.

    It was pretty hard to follow the panel discussion via the screen in the foyer earlier, but that was okay. I met some friends I hadn't seen in a while.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Memo to NZ radiata pine marketing department - ditch "softwood", it sounds limp. Go with "Gymnosperm".
    Memo from Marketing - OMG yes! We can totally work with that! But do we need the "no" in there?)

    "Gymsperm" brings a whole set of problems of its own to the table.


    I reckon "Ecowood" - fast growing, carbon fixing and renewable thrice within your lifetime!

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2138 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I reckon "Ecowood" - fast growing, carbon fixing and renewable thrice within your lifetime!

    Don't we already have an ad on TV featuring a grumpy British man won over by the eco-friendliness of wood?

    (Which makes you wonder: why are they showing it *here*?)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    My fave ep ever (along with Craig and Tony) is the Ben the woodsman one. The Revisited version a coupla weeks ago was new to me and it was just so heartwarming to see how his life had completely changed since he first built the house - with the addition of a lovely wife and two lovely children as well as a completely beautiful house.

    And don't forget the 'shed' -- which is bit like calling St. Peter's Basilica a 'parish church". Pure man porn. Speaking of which...

    "Gymsperm" brings a whole set of problems of its own to the table.

    Damn you, Tom, I'm agreeing with you again. Purely as a brand, "Gymsperm" is a wee bit gay. As well as hideously unhygienic. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12363 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Gymsperm is just too messy. Softwood, well who wants that.
    Simply call it timber and then the double entendre is hopefully put to bed.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Has Grand Designs done Cobb & Log constructions with load bearing walls?
    I know they've done thatching and a fair bit of heritage work.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

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