In the first of a series, we ask a professional about their favourite local building and what inspires them in their role. First up, is Eddie Weir, President Elect of CIAT and Principal Partner of ADP, based in Holywood, County Down.
Belfast has many wonderful buildings, both new and from our Victorian industrial past, however none have achieved an overnight iconic status to equal that of Titanic Belfast. It is an amazing building which creates a dramatic skyline which is why I chose it as a backdrop for one of my manifesto videos for the CIAT presidency.
Since childhood, I’ve had a fascination of knowing how things work and are made, then I developed a love for buildings and design, so I suppose this combination was always going to lead me down the path of a career in architectural technology. Along the way I learnt about the value of team work and that’s why today I am so passionate about sharing knowledge and the role of CIAT.
It is an exceptional feeling to look at a finished building in the knowledge that you created the concept for something that has the potential to improve the quality of people’s lives. We have the privilege and opportunity to change our landscape and leave a legacy for others to enjoy. What’s particularly exciting about the role of architectural technologists is that we design holistically, taking our conceptual designs right though to the technical solutions for the build.
I attended my first CIAT event while at university and was very quickly hooked and soon involved with the Regional Committee. A few Officer positions followed before becoming the Regional Chairman and eventually Vice President Practice. Words can’t describe my excitement now, in advance of my inauguration this November as the next CIAT President.
We now have 16 regions throughout the UK and 7 international centres throughout the world representing those practising and studying within the discipline and profession. The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists is dynamic, forward-thinking and globally inclusive.
CIAT sets and maintains education standards (at Honours and Masters degree level). It sets and maintains our standards of practice through these professional qualifications and our Code of Conduct.
We are also excellent at collaborating with like-minded organisations to improve skills, knowledge and professionalism in the Built Environment. CIAT recognises excellence in Architectural Technology at its prestigious AT Awards event. This is a truly unmissable event and takes place at the Village Underground in Shoreditch London.
What’s next for construction?
The insatiable need for more housing across the UK is of course a major driver for new ideas in construction. Offsite products will play a massive and fundamental role in helping to meet this. It is a complex issue but offsite products can offer many advantages to the construction of new homes such as, efficiency, predictability, sustainability and safety. This will
inevitably lead to a decrease in build times therefore leading to more housing.
Construction must respond to the big issues such as climate change, skills shortages and the changing profile of our population. 20 years ago, Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) was considered as ground breaking and innovative, but now with the use of continually advancing technologies and a greater understanding of their importance, MMC is being given its proper place in the industry.
Currently we tend to design a hybrid of both traditional forms and encourage the use of offsite elements of the building fabric where the design or the brief permits. Looking further into the future I would like to think that smart forms of construction addressing the big issues would become the norm.
How will CIAT respond?
CIAT is dedicated to improving collaboration and competence because we believe the industry works best when all the professionals co-operate. To that end – we have quite a few task groups working on a wide range of initiatives such as; ‘Building a safer future’, ensuring failures such a Grenfell cannot happen again.
‘Building communities’ by ensuring that a holistic approach is the focus when designing. We are also working with members on the “climate emergency” targeting actions to attain the UK Government’s zero carbon commitment. Also, assisting those that deal with public procurement in understanding the importance of fair competition and inclusivity in respect of invitations to tender.
We have set up a Technical Standards Task Force to scrutinise all current standards to ensure their objectives are met sensibly, that they are workable and avoid conflicts.
Finally, we continue to advocate for higher standards of Health and Safety in all construction projects, without forgetting about the mental health issues prevalent in these times.