Rachel Bevan - Auckland, Wellington, Nelson

13 February 2016

Rachel Bevan:  Looking Back and Looking Forward: 20+ years in Architectural Practice in UK and Ireland.

A Public Lecture from Rachel Bevan, one of the Keynote Speakers at the International Straw Building Conference (ISBC) 3-9 March, 2016 in Methven, Canterbury, will give public lectures in Auckland, Wellington and Nelson before heading south.

1.) Auckland:

Where:  School of Engineering Neon Lecture Theatre, University of Auckland,

When:    Friday 26 February 2016, 6pm. Drinks and nibbles at 5:30pm

Cost:      Free

2.) Wellington:

Where:   VUW School of Architecture

When:    Monday 29 February 2016, 6pm. Drinks and nibbles at 5:30pm

Cost:      Free

3.) Nelson:

Where:   Arthouse Architects, 3 Haven Road, Nelson

When:    Tuesday 1 March 2016, 6pm. Drinks and nibbles at 5:30pm

Cost:      Free


Review of Rachel Bevan's Auckland Lecture, by Megan Rule.


Could NZ benefit from the “Phase Change” capability of hemp to manage moisture in the building envelope that has in recent times lead to leaky building conundrum?

While hemp has an ancient history in use, in the last 35 years contemporary industry hemp has made a technological come back in Europe featuring in eco friendly high-tech design solutions for light weight, moisture resistant, thermal capacity situations including as part of vehicle door panels for BMW no less.  

Architect Rachel Bevan from Northern Ireland presents a provocative building science in use case that shows hemps healthy life cycle advantage from ease of installation right through to fabrication resilience. Surprisingly local authorities have not only accepted design strategies for incorporating hemp without fuss, they have welcomed evidence based performance documentation. Bevan, who describes herself as cautious in building design innovation, has taken in-depth research to ensure that reasonable care is taken with the design and tested it at home before taking it further a field.

While hemp's thermal rating is lower that other quilt competitors, this is more that compensated for from its economic, lightweight, climate storage, acoustic, fire and moisture resistant benefits along with user friendly ease in construction. Hemp supply relies on benefiting from agricultural waste and returning or translating this effectively back into our society life cycling.

The first question NZ might ask is how are we effectively returning any similar material waste safely back into the better health of our society?  


How has Bevan managed to grow an internationally recognized practice? Architect Rachel Bevan from Northern Ireland has maintained a small successful practice, with mainly female staff, over the last 20 + years while bringing up two children with her partner, who has pursued an academic career. In her own words “ it required 15 years of feeling tired and some assistance from child care “. It was important for Bevan to maintain an ongoing connection to architecture and practice and to have both physical and psychological boundaries between her work and family life. More recently she has run her practice from a home office with staff and this has worked well for flexibility. Bevan, who’s work spans residential and commercial projects, has found that her office location has had little or no impact on procurement.  “A home office can have a positive influence on client perception where trust is important, particularly in Northern Ireland.”

Bevan quotes “ in 2004 in UK 14% of Registered Architects were female, by 2014 this increased to 24%. Now 42% of registration applicants are female. The numbers today may take a generation to filter through “. The numbers look similar to NZ and while Bevan gets on with practice, she concedes the local industry is still largely in a male domain, although they too are, seeking work life balance.


Rachel Bevan Bio:

Rachel Bevan Architects in County Down, Northern Ireland, is a small practice with a strong interest in sustainability and natural building materials. RBA have been initiators & partners in several research projects as well as writing books on Natural Building Materials and Hemp Construction. Rachel and her partner Professor Tom Woolley have constructed a small building in cast Hemp & Lime on their property as a way of testing an innovative method of construction.

Rachel will discuss the context of working in Architectural Practice in Northern Ireland, with a summary of climate and building traditions, as well as the cultural & political context, which is from the perspective of an English person moving to Northern Ireland in 1991, before the end of “The Troubles.” The professional context in the UK and Northern Ireland shall be explained, especially for working in a small practice and surviving a recession which has hit the construction industry very hard.

Rachel has employed & mentored many students and taken part in “crits” at Schools of Architecture in Belfast & the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. She is currently developing a programme of learning about sustainability for school pupils “ learning through buildings” which is part of her work with the Ministerial Advisory Group for Architecture.

The practice aims to influence Planning Policy and changes to the Building Regulations, through a variety of means, advisory panels and Policy Guidance documents, and by the buildings themselves. Rachel has a strong interest in vernacular and listed buildings and is a member of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. Since moving to Northern Ireland she has become concerned about protecting the rural landscape from “Bungalow Blight” and inappropriate development.

Rachel will conclude her presentation by showing examples of a number of projects designed over the last 20 years, discussing future interests and areas of research and speculate about what changes may be ahead.

Thanks to The Warren Trust and the NZIA Auckland Branch for their continued and generous support.

image: Rachel Bevan Architects www.bevanarchitects.com


Craig White:  Resilient Scaleable Use of Renewable Materials

A Public lecture from Craig White, another of the keynote Speakers at the International Straw Building Conference (ISBC) 3-9 March 2016, in Methven, Canterbury. Craig will give a lecture in Auckland after the conference.

Where:  School of Engineering Neon Lecture Theatre, University of Auckland,

When:    Friday 11 March 2016, 6pm. Drinks and nibbles at 5:30pm

Cost:      Free

The use of straw bale construction can be brought in to mainstream construction at any scale. The ModCell System of construction uses Modern Methods of Construction (MMC or Prefabrication) to deliver a new model of housing. Using Lean and Just in Time forms of manufacture, through a system called Flying Factories, the ModCell system is being used to deliver 200 homes a year through the UK’s new Custom Build Programme.

Craig founded White Design with fellow director Linda Farrow in 1998. He has 28 years' experience in architectural practice in the UK and Europe and has been involved in low energy and sustainable design since the 1980s. A graduate of the Welsh School of Architecture and the Architectural Association, his approach to design is innovative and grounded in a thorough understanding of practical delivery.

Craig is a Design Advice consultant with the Carbon Trust and has worked on the UK's Low Carbon Buildings Programme. He is a board member of the Timber Research and Development Association and was Chair of Wood for Gold, helping the Olympic Delivery Authority to produce the 'Greenest Games Ever' for London 2012. He is a steering group member of the Technology Strategy Board and a trustee of Spike Island in Bristol.

Craig is a senior lecturer at the Department of Planning and Architecture at UWE, where he teaches architectural design with emphasis on the principles of sustainability. In 2010 Craig was appointed as a Visiting Fellow at the Systems Centre at the University of Bristol. He also leads White Design's Research into Practice agenda and has been involved in funded research projects in sustainable and low carbon design and construction.

Thanks to The Warren Trust for bringing both speakers to New Zealand for the ISBC.

image: White Design www.white-design.com