Nottingham in pictures…

Last night I was at Nottingham Trent University again (I seem to have been there more in the last few months than I was in the final year of my Degree!) – this was another exhibition.


As part of the 170th year celebration (which I blogged about before here) last night was a photography exhibition – by Martine Hamilton-Knight and the RIBA. The focus was on Sir Michael Hopkins work.

Marine has been photographing the architecture of this particular practice for the last 20 years. And there was a romp through the last two decades. The Inland Revenue, The University Jubilee Campus and latterly the Nottingham Trent University Newton / Arkwright extension all feature. There are some magical photographs and iconic views.

You probably know I have keen interest in photography – I aspire to this level though! Martine spoke at the event and mentioned the importance of light and good architecture on her work. Some of this architecture is fantastic – and looking at the body of work on show you realise that we do have some truly inspirational buildings in the City. They have been portrayed well.

There’s always that question you get asked- if you could do anything other than your current job what would you do? And I would always answer – I’d be a photographer. I have always been interested in the medium and I get to takes lots of pictures for my work. But thats not the level of art Martine and others achieve. That takes work – not just snapping!

It was an inspiring exhibition. I am inspired. I will get the camera out more.

Nottingham – great stuff #9

I can’t quite believe that I have got to number 9 on my list without mentioning our two Universities. The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University are really key component parts of the City.


Nottingham University has it’s campus to the West of the City on land originally gifted by Jesse Boot. There are overseas campuses in Malaysia and Ningbo. I have been to Ningbo – you can read about it here. The University has 50 departments, institutes and research centres. There are around 34,000 students and 9,000 staff. Total income was £520 million in 2012/13, of which £100 million was from research grants and contracts. A 2014 survey suggested it is the most targeted university by the UK’s top employers – that story is here.

Nottingham Trent University was created when a number of Polytechnics were given ‘University’ stays in 1992. It has three campuses all in Nottingham. It is one of the largest universities in the UK with around 28,000 students. And the University has “one of the best employability records of any university in England and Wales”. It maintains close ties to over 6,000 businesses and 94% of students progress to full-time employment or further education within six months of graduating.

The two Institutions are of huge importance to the City across many areas. Apart from the obvious aspect of bringing young people to the City (with their money and parents!), it brings some of the brightest people around not our patch. But they also have, in recent years, been consistently building new facilities – you only need to look at Triumph Road or The Clifton Campus to see the massive investment that has taken place.

The two Universities continue to attract new talent to the City and if we can retain them then that can only bode well of the future?

Nottingham University wins again – on the world stage

We know the importance of Nottingham University to our City. It is critical.


And now Nottingham is number one in the world for sustainability. I’m delighted that my good friend Dr Lucelia Taranto-Rodrigues (who is an Environmental Champion at the Univeristy) has written this guest blog post….

The University of Nottingham’s contribution to the cities’ economy and vibe is unquestionable. The University attracted almost 25,000 British students and 9,000 international students in the last year. This has a huge impact on the day to day feel of the city (and on its vibrant night life that we are all too familiar with). The University of Nottingham is in an excellent position. It is ranked in the UK and European top 30 and in the top 1 per cent of all universities worldwide. And last week it was ranked number 1 in the world for sustainability. In a world where environmental issues such as climate change and ever increasing population growth are of pressing importance this latest accolade is testament to the University’s research and educational work addressing these challenges.

The UI Green Metric World University Ranking is an initiative created in 2010 by the Universitas Indonesia. In 2009 they hosted an ‘International Conference on World University Rankings’ where a number of experts agreed that the existing criteria being used to rank universities were not giving credit to those that were making efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. A criteria was developed including information such as the size of the university (spatially and population), the campus location and the amount of green space, energy use, transport, water use, waste recycling, green policies and management strategies. The University of Nottingham was listed in first place in 2013 out of the 301 universities from 61 countries.

This is a huge achievement, but also one that did not come without significant effort and investment. For many years now the University has committed itself to becoming a leading green University and sustainability is one of guiding principles in the University’s Strategic Plan. Its sustainability strategies range from improving existing buildings, engaging students through initiatives such as the ‘Go Green Hall Competition’, involving staff as ‘Environmental Champions’ and proposing the installation of wind turbines to partially power the campuses with clean energy. The main 330-acre University Park Campus is also green (as in ‘containing extensive greenery’) and has won the Green Flag Award for 11 consecutive years.

The University is also committed to the development of low carbon buildings and is internationally recognised for its work in low and zero carbon housing through the Creative Energy Homes project – research that is helping inform the UK’s delivery of sustainable housing.

It doesn’t stop there – the University has set itself the ambitious target of BREEAM ‘excellent’ as a minimum for all new projects. Work has commenced on the first carbon neutral laboratory to be built in the UK, located on the Nottingham Innovation Park, the extension of the Jubilee Campus. It has been designed to achieve BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ and LEED ‘Platinum’ – that is extremely ambitious for a lab! And in early March there might be another significant award: the Energy Technologies Building, not far from the carbon neutral lab, has been shortlisted for the Educational Building International BREEAM Award. If you want to show your support you can cast your vote at Your BREEAM Award. The winner will be announced as part of this year’s BREEAM Awards 2014 celebration at the Ecobuild show at London’s ExCel – hopefully we will have one more reason to celebrate!

Thanks Lu, please vote for The University!!

When buildings go wrong…

My good friends at The University of Nottingham’s Architecture Department were really impressed with some of the buildings we saw in Shanghai. I met them in China on my trip back in August. But they were less so with this one…


It seems that someone (who has no doubt run off) decided to build a car park adjacent this block of apartments. When they dug down they placed the spoil from the digging around the other side of the building. This somewhat spoiled the balance of things and the building just toppled over. Fortunately there were no buildings adjacent (which is unusual in China!) so it didn’t hit anything.

There could have so easily been a domino effect.

Apparently one person died when the building toppled, but it looks as though the building wasn’t quite finished. It is amazing that so much of it is still intact – notably the glass in the windows. You really do have to double take when you fist see the photograph.

I should imagine that the equivalent of the Health & Safety Executive might have had something to say. The only thing I wonder about is whether they have guns? I think they might decide on “fault” and ask questions later…

We were wondering in the office if you could just prop it back up? A bit of pointing of those cracks and all should look as good as new? Alternatively leave it as it is – and regard it as a giant bungalow – there won’t be much need for the lifts?

Shanghai – Day four – the conference closes

The second day of the Nottingham City Council and University of Nottingham Conference took place in the London Zed Pavilion at Expo 2010. The weather has pretty much been the same for the last 48 hours – 32 degrees and 80% humidity.

I stayed for three keynote speeches today.

Firstly Peter Walden from Carbonlow in Derbyshire explained the background to the UK’s carbon emission reduction programme, primarily in terms of the legislative framework. He also highlighted some of the challenges the UK will face in meeting the targets set – primarily that we shall be building zero carbon houses by 2016 and commercial property by 2019.

Then Professor Mark Gillott from The University of Nottingham explained the Nottingham H.O.U.S.E project. House stands for House Optimising the Use of Solar Energy. The challenge was to enter a competition in Madrid and build the house in three days. It had to reach certain criteria – but also had to be capable of being dismantled and shipped back to the UK. It is going to be installed on the University Campus. What I found really interesting about this talk was the way in which we have changed our consumption of energy – at the turn of the last century consumption was principally on heating; now it is on power for equipment!

The third talk was from Jo Darkwa – from the Ningbo Campus of the University – he spoke about the Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies – “CSET”. This was useful as my next stop is Ningbo – and hopefully a look at the centre!

And with that, my part of the conference closed – there were some further talks, but these were aimed at ‘manufacturers’. And this was my last opportunity to see the Expo…

More on the second part of my day later!