Author Archives: johnbale

SUMMER BREAK

I hope you’ve found the blog of some interest, and I’m grateful to the people who’ve been kind enough to say so. But all of us deserve a break, so there will be no new posts on this site until … Continue reading

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U-TURNS AND A SENSE OF REALITY

The government’s higher education White Paper is expected in the coming week.  I’m sure ministers will be wanting to avoid anything that the press might depict as a U-turn.  That could prove difficult.  I hope at least that presentation of … Continue reading

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IN PRAISE OF SUBURBIA

If you’re a regular follower, thank you – and I’m sorry I was silent last week.  I was uncomfortable and lethargic after a minor operation.  A bit more more of that still to come, but nothing too serious – so … Continue reading

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JOINING-UP BRITAIN

As in most years, there is talk of drought in the UK.  The country as a whole receives, each year, enough rainwater to meet all our needs – but it doesn’t always fall where it is needed most. Nothing comes … Continue reading

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‘MAKE NO LITTLE PLANS’

David Davis MP had a powerful article in The Times last week (18.05.11) on the need for more investment in broadband infrastructure. He drew an analogy with the 19th century construction of the London sewerage system. Its designer,  Joseph Bazalgette, … Continue reading

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BENEATH THE RADAR?

A few weeks ago I lamented the low profile of higher education for the built environment (Blog, 29.03.11).  It’s easy to feel paranoid about this sort of thing – perhaps all academic disciplines feel they are under-regarded.  And yet!  Writing … Continue reading

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SOME STATISTICS

All I want to do today is to share some statistics that, for me, have jumped off the pages of newspapers over the past few days.  They all seem relevant, in various ways, to the construction industry and higher education. … Continue reading

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A KNOWLEDGE-BASED INDUSTRY?

My posts will be briefer over the next few weeks, as I attend to family matters and undergo some medical treatment.  Perhaps I can just pose a few questions, without trying to answer them. What evidence do we have that … Continue reading

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LONG LIFE AND LOOSE FIT: FOOTNOTES

A friend has suggested that relatively new buildings are being demolished in order to be replaced by buildings that allow public companies to parade their environmental consciousness.  The new building may meet low-carbon criteria, but the energy embodied in the … Continue reading

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LONG LIFE AND LOOSE FIT

An RIBA President of the 1970s (Sir Alex Gordon) coined the phrase ‘long life, loose fit, low energy’, as a maxim for good building.  I’ve always liked that, but few others seem to remember it.  The low energy bit is … Continue reading

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THE GREAT CONSTRUCTION DEBATE

Marks and Spencer began life as a market stall in Leeds.  The company is now, in a sense, coming home by moving its corporate archive from London to the University of Leeds;  a small museum is already in place and … Continue reading

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GOVERNANCE: A SENSE OF OWNERSHIP

I retired from membership of Leeds City Council almost a year ago.  I had enjoyed much of my six-year stint but, while I’m definitely a political animal, I’m afraid party-political loyalty is something of a challenge when you pride yourself … Continue reading

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AIRPORTS AND MY BACK YARD

I first thought about airport policy about 40 years ago, when I studied the (then) emerging technique known as cost-benefit analysis and was told that a CBA of sites for London’s third airport had attached a value of £5000 (or … Continue reading

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‘MISTER CELLOPHANE’

There’s song in the musical ‘Chicago’ in which a bashful  character describes himself as Mister Cellophane –  because he feels people see right through him, and never notice he’s there.  I’ve sometimes felt that the built environment professions are, collectively, … Continue reading

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INSPIRING : PEOPLE AND PLACES

Last week I was in Scotland for the fifth in the CIOB’s series of workshops on construction management education (see Blog 13.10.10 & 01.03.11 ), at Glasgow Caledonian University.  At each of these events, there has been expression of a … Continue reading

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