Articles

Publications and other research coverage in the press:

The pros and cons of stone buildings

Using ‘massive stone’ can result in a fraction of the carbon emissions produced by the controversial choices of concrete and steel, according to the material’s advocate Steve Webb.

 

What’s stopping us from carrying on exactly as we are?

The target for achieving net zero may still be decades away but, in order to hit it, we have to make changes to the way we design and build right now, says Anna Beckett 

 

Tired Old Offices Can Be Recycled Too

Wired talks to Tom Webster, Orms Architects and Fabrix about urban mining, the future of sustainability and the built environment’s marketplace.

 

Stone age: a new architecture from an old material

As we near the end of the fossil fuel era, building in stone offers a hopeful future for construction, writes Steve Webb

 

What’s stopping us using more innovative structural materials?

The ready availability of concrete and steel seems to have discouraged us from experimenting with new possibilities, says Anna Beckett

 

The Sustainability of Stone

Steve Webb talks to Peter Murray about Clerkenwell Close, the sustainability of stone as a building material and the work of Webb Yates.

 

Urban mining and how to reuse carbon intensive materials

Here’s how the embodied carbon savings of reusing - rather than recycling - materials such as steel could stack up, says Tom Webster.

 

What’s stopping us from ditching brick?

The huge carbon cost of new brick means it’s time to turn to alternatives, such as stone, timber – or even recycled and reclaimed brick, says Anna Beckett.

 

Cladding – wasteful, too complicated and prone to failure?

A simpler approach to construction, using fewer materials and layers that work together, would create buildings that are less complex, says Steve Webb.

 

Specification: Building in sustainability throughout the design process

Alex Lynes explains the thought processes behind four recent buildings and offers a checklist for optimising environmental performance from concept design to completion on site.

 

How to bring steel into a green circular economy

Recycling – or better still, reusing – steel structures could create major carbon savings, writes Tom Webster

 

What’s stopping engineers from being more creative?

There are good reasons why we choose the tried and tested, but too often that stifles innovative thinking and the potential for progress, says Anna Beckett.

 

Building Talks Net Zero Podcast: Materials matter - how to use concrete and steel responsibly in buildings

Anna Beckett and Tom Webster talk about key construction materials, where they explain the potential to reuse or recycle materials such as concrete and steel.

 

What’s stopping us from measuring embodied carbon?

In the second article of her new series, engineer Anna Beckett asks why an embodied carbon assessment isn’t done as standard on every project.

 

What’s stopping us from re-using materials?

In the first of a new series, engineer Anna Beckett shows how some fresh thinking could solve apparently intractable issues.

 

Creative thinking needed to tackle growing threat of urban flooding

Surface water flooding not only affects infrastructure and property, it can also cause loss of life. As we focus on refurbishing and refitting existing buildings, we should take the problem more seriously, Tom Webster writes.

 

Lay off the plasterboard and cladding

Cutting out the layers can make buildings more sustainable, argues Steve Webb.

 

Concrete and climate-compatible design

If the economics of your project make concrete irresistible, there are still ways to minimise its carbon impact. Steve Webb and Liam Bryant explains how.

 

The trouble with timber: What’s stopping the switch to wood?

Enlightened designers and local authorities often consider timber construction, but the same objections seem to crop up. So what’s stopping everyone? Asks Steve Webb

 

Time to put cars in their place – underground

The economy needs some big infrastructure projects. How about burying a few roads, asks Steve Webb.

 

Climate action: we can put a block on brick

Despite its embodied carbon, masonry is still the default construction method. What are the alternatives?

 

New ways to design carbon-friendly, fire-safe towers

Fire and loadings limit structural timber in towers but concrete is carbon heavy. How about using the strengths of each?

 

AJ Climate Champions podcast

Steve Webb joins the latest Architects' Journal Climate Champions podcast with Hattie Hartman.

 

Saving the earth: making the case for rammed earth architecture

The use of rammed earth in UK and European architecture is on the rise. Scott Boote, associate at Webb Yates Engineers, makes the case for using this ancient method in contemporary construction.

 

Structural issues: the cost of material and the value of labour

 

How to slash CO2 in home improvement projects

Home extension projects can be very heavy on embodied carbon, but there are greener ways to manage the load – and they’re cheaper too.

 

Build back better with sustainable structures

Housebuilding is central to plans to kickstart the economy, but we need to start rethinking the way we build if ‘build back better’ is to avoid severe environmental damage, says Steve Webb, Director, Webb Yates.

 

Stone as a structural material - Part 4: Contemporary loadbearing stone buildings

Not all contemporary innovation is about exploiting digital fabrication or creating wild new forms. By applying a new way of thinking to traditional materials and craft, geometrically simple and innovative structures can be realised that are both elegant and environmentally ethical.

 

Stone as a structural material - Part 3: Post-tensioned stone structures

To utilise stone’s high ratio of compressive to tensile strength to maximum effect, stone structures can be compressed using tensioned cables or bars. Post-tensioned stone increases the failure load of stone in bending, but also the stiffness of a structure by reducing joint cracking.

 

Stone as a structural material - Part 2: Traditional and reinforced stone stairs

Since the construction of the first British example of a cantilever stone staircase (Inigo Jones’ ‘tulip’ staircase in Queen’s House in Greenwich, 1629–35), this technique has served as both grand statement and modest utility. The structural principles are now widely understood, but by adopting a creative approach to structural analysis, design and detailing, they can be combined and extrapolated to design and construct more refined structures in myriad applications.

 

Stone as a structural material - Part 1: Mechanical properties

Dimension stone has been employed as a structural material for thousands of years, but its use has declined in recent times.

 

Why the time is ripe for a return to stone as a structural material

If you’re looking for a low carbon, reusable material that is strong, robust and beautiful, stone is ready for a revival. 

 

Time to stop tinkering with global warming

Design decisions on materials are disproportionately damning the world to further climate change. Some stark numbers put it in context.

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