And finally… Mushroom-based building material developed

Hy-Fi by The Living

Hy-Fi by The Living

Material science company Ecovative has developed a sustainable building material made from agricultural byproducts and mushroom mycelium.

The product contains mycelium, the vegetative part of a mushroom fungus, which is a natural glue. This material binds with crop waste like seed husks and corn stalks to form a bioplastic.

Unlike normal plastics, which are made from petrochemicals, Mushroom Materials are plant-based and fully compostable.

The latest development of the product – a Grow it Yourself kit – allows artists and designers the opportunity to grow their own modelling material.

The kit comes as a small bag of Mushroom Materials, which have been dried so they don’t need refrigeration. This dehydration process also means that the product can be packaged and internationally shipped.

To begin growing the material, water is added to rehydrate the product. “This process takes about three to four days,” explained Ecovative. “It’s kind of like letting dough rise before you shape and bake your loaf of bread.”

Once the product is wet, it can then be stored away or placed into custom-designed moulds to grow over several days.

Last year, Mushroom Materials were used by architectural studio The Living to build an organic tower in the courtyard of New York’s MoMA PS1 Gallery. The design, featuring circular buildings created entirely from natural materials, was the winning entry in the gallery’s 2014 Young Architects Programme.

“Prototyping is a crucial part of our design process,” explained The Living principal David Benjamin. “Ecovative GIY was a great way for us to quickly explore options and get a feel for how this amazing new material works.”

Other designs made using the material include a table lamp and plant pot by designer Danielle Trofe. The products, named Mush-lume and Mush-bloom respectively, use the mushroom material alongside compressed cork and concrete.

“The ability to have a hands-on experience with the Mushroom Material, to grow it, to learn its properties and to experiment with its living characteristics, has not only created a much more dynamic prototyping experience, but a more inventive and in-tune approach to material-based product design,” said Trofe.

Mushroom Materials has also been used to design a biodegradable surfboard by Californian brand Surf Organic, providing an alternative to the popular fibreglass and styrofoam models.


Record profits for Bellway

Ted Ayres

Ted Ayres

Housebuilder Bellway has hailed ‘another tremendous set of results’ as it unveiled record earnings.

The Newcastle-based firm, which has a strong presence north of the Border, said pre-tax profits for the six months ending 31 January jumped 53.1 per cent to £158.9 million, ahead of analysts’ forecasts. Revenues rose 18.7 per cent to £831.2m.

The company sold 3,754 newly built homes in the six months to the end of January – up 15.7 per cent on the same period the previous year.

Average selling prices grew by 3.4 per cent to £219,343 and the group’s typical price in Scotland is about £200,000. Under the new Scottish land and buildings transaction tax that comes into effect next month, that would trigger a £1,100 bill, compared with stamp duty of £1,500 south of the Border.

Finance director Keith Adey told The Scotsman that the “help to buy” Isa announced by Chancellor George Osborne this month was another welcome development, but he added: “I’m not convinced it will drastically change demand and supply.”

The savings product is aimed at first-time buyers struggling to scrape together a deposit. For every £200 saved, the UK government will add £50, to a maximum of £3,000.

Following the surge in Bellway’s profits, investors will receive an interim dividend of 25p a share on 1 July – up from 16p a year earlier.

Chief executive Ted Ayres also said that the builder was “well positioned to continue its disciplined strategy for growth, thereby creating additional value for shareholders”.

RIBA agrees ‘significant progress’ towards education reform

RIBAThe Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has agreed a set of proposals that will see the biggest change to architectural education in 50 years.

Responding to the 2013 European Union legislative changes to the Professional Qualifications Directive statute, the RIBA Council this week voted to modernise the education of future generations of architecture students, widen the path towards inclusivity and work to remove the obstacles faced by aspiring architects.

The recommendations are the result of the RIBA Education Review, a two year programme developing the agenda for changes in the structure, content and delivery of UK architecture education. The review has engaged the RIBA Education Committee, SCHOSA and the UK schools of architecture, progressive practitioners of architecture, and the statutory bodies responsible for architecture in the UK and Europe.

The recommendations agreed are:

  • A requirement for a minimum of two years of assessed professional practical experience (PPE) within, typically, a minimum seven year period of study
  • An award that combines academic study and PPE leading to a level 7 masters degree
  • Academic credits available for one year of work based learning, with the option for students to study within a framework of four years F/T study + three years PPE
  • A 300 ECTS credit programme compliant with the requirements of Bologna agreement
  • Access to the register of architects and title of the architect on successful completion of the integrated course

The next steps will be to discuss the implementation of proposals in consultation with all UK schools of architecture.

Stephen Hodder, President of the RIBA, said: “This has been the most rigorous and collaborative review of architectural education in fifty years via an extensive consultation with architects, students, academics and clients. I’m delighted that we have some clear recommendations for changes to architectural education ensuring that the RIBA validated architecture course represents an assured academic benchmark. These changes will ensure that future generations are inspired to become leading architects in the UK and globally.”

£25.7m to create research complex at University of Edinburgh

University_of_Edinburgh_logo.svgThe University of Edinburgh is to create a new biology complex with world-leading laboratory space for 350 researchers and to establish a new Centre for Tissue Repair, thanks to a £25.7 million investment by the UK government.

The two projects are the only Scottish bids to secure funding in a fiercely competitive round of awards from the UK Research Partnership Infrastructure Fund.

More than £50m has been leveraged from industry, charity and philanthropic funds to double-match the investment.

An investment of £15m will help to create a research complex that integrates three research areas with an advanced technology hub to transform how biology is investigated. A key part of its focus will be infection and global health.

Another vital component will be synthetic biology, which creates artificial biological systems that can be used by industry and in medical research. They could also aid the discovery of new drugs.

Scientists will also focus on epigenetics – studying how genes can be modified without a change to the DNA sequence.

The new biology complex will include facilities for community engagement.

A second investment of £10.7m will enable the creation of a Centre for Tissue Repair, bringing together experts in inflammation and scarring, and tissue regeneration.

Researchers hope to discover and deliver new treatments for tissue damage, such as the destruction of nerve cells in multiple sclerosis or damage to the liver caused by infections.

The Centre will provide a platform to investigate the mechanisms underlying tissue injury.

Advanced imaging and sensing technologies will be developed that will enable researchers to view and measure tissue regeneration in real time.

Such techniques will be critical for helping researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of new treatments in clinical trials.

Professor Jonathan Seckl, vice-principal planning, resources and research policy, said: “This investment will be a major catalyst for our goal of creating a powerhouse of research and intellectual discovery that will ultimately generate health, social and economic benefits for Scotland and the UK.”


Plans for £7m improvements at Govan Interchange

SPTStrathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) will tomorrow seek approval from members to commit just over £7 million to modernise Govan Interchange.

A paper going to SPT’s strategy & programmes committee outlines a proposal to award the construction contract to Graham Construction – worth a total of £7,164,382. On Site Consultancy Support Services are also required for the duration of the works and the paper recommends a contract for up to £176,091 is awarded to AHR Architects Ltd.

Work will include the installation of passenger lifts on each circle between concourse and platform level at Govan. These will be in addition to lifts installed in the course of refurbishment works at St Enoch which will improve access in and out of the city centre and to the new South Glasgow Hospitals complex.

Improvements to be delivered at Govan will include:

  • A new modern ticket office;
  • new flooring, wall and ceiling finishes;
  • new way finding, information and signage for passengers;
  • enhancements under the Equalities Act including hearing loops, tactile maps, tactile paving and colour contrast flooring;
  • brighter, more welcoming energy efficient lighting;
  • Four new escalators have already been installed in advance of the above;

The layout of the station facilities will largely remain with the addition of equipment and plant rooms created at concourse level to allow storage of service equipment for both the bus station and Subway maintenance.

New rainscreen cladding will cover the existing external glass fibre walls and new windows installed. The external brickwork will also be cleaned and repointed where necessary. Energy efficiency will be greatly improved by the introduction of air source heat pumps at platform level which will help with heating and ventilation of the building in the longer term.

As the construction work encompasses both Subway and Bus improvements, a modern entrance with glazed bi-parting doors will be installed on Golspie street to assist with easier passenger flow and a quicker connection to Fastlink halts nearby. New doors will also provide an enhanced entrance area to the concourse on Govan Road.

Glass canopies will cover both entrances extending to the bus station to offer weather protection to enable access via automatic glass security barriers for buses arriving at stances.

A new bus station layout will be reconfigured with new road surfacing, kerbing, drainage and Caithness paving on pedestrian areas. Modern perimeter fencing will separate buses from people walking and bus stances will be lit with real time information on show and CCTV to improve visibility and increase passenger safety.

SPT chief executive Gordon Maclennan said: “Govan will be the seventh of 15 stations to be refurbished and customers have told us they love the modern design and bright open spaces. The Interchange is particularly important as it connects directly with the new Fastlink services and access to the new South Glasgow University Hospitals complex.

“SPT aims to make public transport as accessible and seamless as possible and this work will transform not only the appearance of the station but I’m sure will encourage more people to leave their car behind.”

If approved, the Interchange refurbishment is due for completion by the end of 2016.

Building Briefs – March 26th

Newbattle Community High SchoolCouncillors update on Newbattle high school work

Councillors in Midlothian have been told that work will begin on site as quickly as possible to build the replacement for Newbattle Community High School once circumstances beyond the council’s control are resolved.

The project is currently delayed because of a European ruling on how some investment projects, including the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) programmes – of which Newbattle is one – are classified.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday, councillors heard that council officers, along with its development partners and the Scottish Futures Trust, are working to make sure the contract to design and build Newbattle is ready to be signed as quickly as possible after the European situation is resolved.

The council’s development partner, Hub South East Scotland Ltd, is delivering the project and it has appointed Morrison Construction as the main contractor.

As well as a state of the art high school, local people will benefit from a new library, gym, swimming pool, sports facilities (including all weather pitch) and a range of community facilities on campus. The building will sit in playing fields adjacent to the current building.


Man fined over death of worker struck by excavator

The owner of an engineering firm has been fined £12,000 after he admitted breaching health and safety laws after a worker was crushed to death on a pier.

Welder and fabricator Christopher Hartley, 45, died after being struck by a moving excavator and crushed between its bucket and a fixed cabinet at the end of Longhope Pier in Hoy, Orkney, in November 2012.

Kirkwall Sheriff Court heard yesterday that Mr Hartley was working for William Reid’s E&M Engineering Services when the company was hired to replace the fenders on the RNLI’s pontoon.

Mr Hartley, of Thurso, and two other men were unloading steel and aluminium panels from a flatbed van onto the pier using an excavator.

After the last panel was lowered, the excavator operator heard Mr Reid shout that Mr Hartley was lying face down on the floor near to the hose cabinet and was unresponsive. He died at the scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that although Mr Reid had carried out an assessment of the risks involved in the task, he had not identified mechanical lifting as a hazard and the risks associated with using an excavator.

It said reasonable precautions were not put in place to reduce the risk of a person being hit by the moving load or excavator.

Mr Hartley and another worker did not have their hi-visibility jackets on and the artificial lighting was also poor.

Reid, 64, of Scrabster, Caithness, had pleaded guilty to breaching the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

HSE said that the tragedy could have been avoided.


Aberdeen museum collections building started

Work has yesterday on the construction of a multi-million pound centre which will soon house Aberdeen’s artworks and artefacts.

City council leader Jenny Laing officially broke the ground at the Granitehill Road site in Northfield where the £5.85 million Museums Collection Centre is being built.

The 25,700sq ft facility will store pieces from the art gallery in Schoolhill, which has closed for two years while modification work takes place.

The contract to build the centre was won by the Robertson Group, which will be required to employ two apprentices on site. Construction is expected to be completed by November.

The unit’s name will be chosen in the next few months.

Keith Taylor, managing director for Robertson Construction Eastern, said residents would see the foundations of the development begin to take shape in the next six to eight weeks.


Sustainable construction at Dundee Waterfront

A key part of the £1 billion project to transform Dundee’s central waterfront has received national recognition.

Dundee City Council and contractors Sir Robert McAlpine have been awarded an Infrastructure Sustainability CEEQUAL Excellent Award for work at the waterfront last year.

Professor Tim Broyd a member of the CEEQUAL Board and vice president of the Institution of Civil Engineers was in the city to present the award.

The commended work included a considerable amount of diverting or installing underground services, the major junction realignment at Riverside Roundabout, demolition and rebuilding of Tay Road Bridge on/off ramps and creation of the new three lane Northern Boulevard.


Plans revealed for iconic Edinburgh concert arena

An iconic new concert and events arena would be built in Princes Street Gardens under plans put forward to the City of Edinburgh Council by a leading businessman.

Norman Springford, founder of the Apex Hotels group and a former owner of the Edinburgh Playhouse, is offering to plough several million pounds of his own money into a replacement for the crumbling Ross Theatre.

The developer said he would be happy to pay for an international design competition to come up with designs for a building he hopes will become as iconic a symbol as the Sydney Opera House or Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum.

The 70-year-old has offered to help put together a task force of industry experts to set up a charitable trust to pursue a new building, which would be used throughout the year.

Mr Springford admits the project could cost as much as £30 million, but has suggested financial backing could come from some of Edinburgh’s biggest corporate firms, philanthropic trusts and public funders including the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Video – Smithton and Culloden flood alleviation project update

During the months of July and August 2011, the eastern side of Inverness experienced localised high intensity rain causing burns to overtop. This caused roads to close and properties to flood.

report produced by JBA consulting which focused on the impacts of the flooding associated with the Smithton Burn and Culloden Burn West has identified the flood risks and issues associated with these watercourses. The report concludes with both general and specific recommendations for The Highland Council to consider in its endeavours to reduce flood risk in the future.

At a public exhibition, The Highland Council and the scheme designer, JBA, presented what works that have been undertaken in phase 1 to 3, to tackle some of the issues relating to blockage risk.


Design workshops for Perth West expansion

Perth and Kinross residents are being invited to take part in drop-in events and design workshops at the end of this month to help shape a masterplan framework to take forward the western expansion of Perth City.

The ambitious expansion plans to the west of Perth will help to cement the area’s status as a city, stimulate economic growth and provide much needed additional housing and schools to support the increasing population.

The events are all part of a charrette approach to involving communities in planning developments, involving a series of interactive design workshops and presentations held over a number of days where the public, local design professionals and project consultants work together on developing a detailed masterplan for a specific area. A number of meetings are also held during this process which enable all stakeholders to discuss the key policies and issues relating to the site.


Skye residents give backing to wind farm project

A windfarm overlooking the famous Cuillins mountains on Skye is being backed by the local community.

Crofters have welcomed Highland Council’s decision to grant consent for the 14-turbine Glen Ullinish Wind Farm.

The development is to be located between Ose and Struan at Allt Dughaill on the Isle of Skye.

The Scottish Government, as the owners of the land, are supporting the partnership approach being taken between Kilmac Construction and local crofters.

The consented development will be able to generate 42MW, the equivalent of generating enough electricity to supply 23,000 homes per year.

Work to commence on Western Isles care development

Cllr Uisdean Robertson John Macleod (project manager - Lewis Builders), Iain Macaulay (director of social & community services), Cllr Norman Macdonald, Catherine Macleod (senior operating manager - adult services) Dan Maclennan (director - Lewis Builders), Cllr Angus Campbell, Lewis Horner (Ardseileach resident), Emma Macleod (senior - Ardseileach)

Cllr Uisdean Robertson
John Macleod (project manager – Lewis Builders), Iain Macaulay (director of social & community services), Cllr Norman Macdonald, Catherine Macleod (senior operating manager – adult services)
Dan Maclennan (director – Lewis Builders), Cllr Angus Campbell, Lewis Horner (Ardseileach resident), Emma Macleod (senior – Ardseileach)

Work will shortly commence on a £5.9 million care development which will meet the care and support needs of adults with learning disabilities and complex care needs on the Western Isles.

The Ardseileach project, which will take up to 2 years, will replace the accommodation of the existing care home and respite service to provide a modern up-to-date facility. In addition, the building of supported accommodation units will provide different styles of individual and shared living options, with varying levels of support provided depending on individual needs.

In recent years the inflexibility of the design and layout of Ardseileach Care Home has at times required Western Isles Council to accommodate and care for clients on the mainland and this new facility will help to reduce those numbers.

Local firm Lewis Builders have been awarded the contract and the local authority is holding an information event for immediate neighbours and Stornoway North Elected members, next week.

Cllr Uisdean Robertson, chair of health and social care, said: “I am delighted that the Ardseileach Core and Cluster Development is underway, providing a new up to date care facility and giving a boost to the local economy. This investment demonstrates the council’s commitment to provide high quality living accommodation to adults with learning difficulties.

“This new resource supports individuals to live independently where this is appropriate and where needed, 24 hour residential care facilities are available.

“Ardseileach is a major employer of social care staff and I know that they are very committed to ensuring that the disruption to service users and their families will be kept to a minimum during the construction phase.”


Plans for new Stirling Care Village move forward

hub East Central ScotlandProposals to create an innovative new care village in the grounds of Stirling Community hospital have been given the green light to progress.

The Outline Business Case for a new integrated health and social care development has been formally approved by the Scottish Government which means plans can now be taken forward to the next stage. This will include the development of more detailed designs and financial costings.

These will form part of a Full Business Case which will be submitted in the next few months.  If approved, construction could then start in Summer 2015 and the new facilities could be operational in Summer 2017.

Tom Steele, NHS Forth Valley’s director of estates and facilities, said: “The approval of these initial plans takes us a significant step closer to creating this important new facility.

“A great deal of work has already been carried out by all the partners involved and these plans will now be developed in more detail over the next few months to enable final proposals for the facility to be submitted 2015.”

The new Care Village would bring wide range of health, social care and GP services provided by Stirling Council, NHS Forth Valley and a number of local GP practices.

Services would be delivered in a modern, purpose-built facility with more than 100 short-stay care beds.

The plans would also see the creation of new facilities to house a number of existing health services on the site including Minor Injuries Services, X-ray and GP out-of-hours services along with a number of local GP practices which are keen to be part of the new development. These include the Viewfield, Park Avenue, Park Terrace and Wallace Medical Practices in Stirling.

There would also be the potential to develop a range of onsite recreational facilities such as a café and a hair salon where older people could socialise and meet up with friends and family.

The Scottish Ambulance Service has put forward plans to relocate their existing ambulance station in the Riverside area of Stirling to a new facility on the Stirling Community Hospital site. There are longer term plans to explore the development of commercial, flexible and adaptable housing and a masterplan has been developed to show where the different health, social care and potential new housing could be located on the site.

Key Appointments – hub East Central Scotland

Contractor: Robertson Construction
FM Operator:  FES FM
Architect: JM Architects
Civil & Structural Engineer: Woolgar Hunter
Building Services: DSSR
CDMC: Kirk & Marsh
BREEAM Assessor: BRE

Work begins on £36m Garnock Education Campus


(left to right) Brian McQuade, Kier Construction managing director; Stephen Parker, Kier Construction; Michael McBrearty, chief executive, hub South West; Provost Joan Sturgeon; Kenneth Gibson MSP; Cllr Anthony Gurney; Ryan Broadley, Kier Construction

Work has begun on the creation of a £36 million education campus in the Garnock Valley in Ayrshire.

The campus, which will relocate and merge Garnock Academy and Glengarnock Primary school on a greenfield site in Glengarnock, will cater for 1,500 students – 1,200 secondary, 300 primary and 30 nursery. Due for completion in late 2016, the latest project to be undertaken by hub South West will also provide community facilities such as a six-lane 25m swimming pool and fitness suite.

The start of construction was marked by a VIP ground breaking ceremony when North Ayrshire Council’s Provost Joan Sturgeon performed the turf cutting ceremony.

hub South West has appointed Kier Construction to deliver the project on behalf of the council.

The £36m design, build, finance and maintain (DBFM) campus will attract revenue support from the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) as part of the Scottish Government’s ‘Scotland’s Schools for the Future’ Phase 3 programme.

Michael McBrearty, chief executive of hub South West, said: “Hub South West is a public private partnership which enables the cost efficient design and construction of community facilities, including schools, health centres and care homes, within the south-west region of Scotland.

“Garnock Academy will be a flagship project generating growth, maximising local investment and creating local opportunities for training, learning and further education. We selected Kier Construction as they are a national business who have committed to delivering economic growth and regeneration opportunities for the benefit of the local economy.”

During 2014, hub South West successfully handed over five projects totalling £12m and is currently progressing capital investments with a total project value of £563m, delivering a programme of schools, health centres and office accommodation throughout Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway. The partnership aims to invest over £500m in new public buildings over the next five years, increasing to £1bn over the next 10 years, providing additional business and employment opportunities within their South West territory area.

Mr McBrearty added: “By actively encouraging small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to join our Supplier Network, we provide local contract opportunities and help potential suppliers secure work via our Supply Chain Institute. Additional support is also available via our Skills Academy generating work placements, apprenticeships and training opportunities.”

Brian McQuade, managing director of Kier Construction’s Scotland & north-east England business, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed to construct this key educational and community facility for North Ayrshire Council, and the people of the Garnock Valley.

“The dream of a state-of-the-art campus, which will provide first-class facilities for everyone who lives and works in the area, is now one step closer to reality.

“We will be working closely with hub South West, North Ayrshire Council and the Garnock Valley communities to construct a campus that will inspire future generations. This is a significant investment into the local economy and we look forward to working in the area to provide additional employment opportunities, including apprenticeships, for locally based suppliers and subcontractors.”

Senior Property Services Officer – Knowes Housing Association

knowes housing

Senior Property Services Officer, Faifley, Clydebank

£36,368 – £39,347 (EVH Grade 8)

Flexible working hours, company pension scheme, healthcare scheme, 25 days annual leave and 15 days public holidays

Knowes Housing Association is a successful and high performing organisation with an annual turnover of £4m. We own and manage over 1,000 homes in the Faifley and Duntocher areas of Clydebank. We also provide factoring services to 600 homeowners.

We are looking for an experienced individual to take a lead role in the Association’s property management function. Reporting to the Director you will assist in delivering our asset management strategy and service delivery including all procurement, performance management and delivery of the Association’s cyclical & planned programmes and responsive repairs service.

You will have experience in delivering property maintenance and repairs programmes, have excellent leadership skills and knowledge of the legislation relating to repairs, planned and cyclical maintenance, gas safety, contract procurement and health and safety. You will also have excellent organisational skills, technical knowledge and IT skills.

You will be qualified to HND level. Post subject to Disclosure Scotland check.

If you are interested in this exciting opportunity to work for an organisation that strives for continuous improvement, visit our web site: for an application pack. Should you wish an informal chat regarding the post, please contact Pierre De Fence on 01389 877752.

Completed applications must be returned by 12 noon on 15th April 2015 by email only to

Knowes Housing Association Limited is a charitable organisation registered under Scottish Charity No SC027466

Knowes job strap