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Annette Davis

ESR1

Annette has worked as a RIBA Part 3 qualified Architect, with professional and academic experience acquired in the UK and abroad. She completed her BSc at the University of Bath, where she also participated in a year exchange at Universidad Europea de Madrid in Spain.

During her Masters studies at the Manchester School of Architecture, she pursued her passion for using design to address social housing issues with her project ‘Rethinking the Highrise’. The project identified the need to implement sustainable and affordable design solutions for the high-rise typology, addressing the need for high quality design for high density housing by utilising modular stacked dwellings. Following her Masters, she completed the RIBA professional practice postgraduate diploma with the University of Westminster in 2019.

Annette’s professional experience in architecture and urban design includes a range of residential, public realm, and commercial projects in Melbourne, Australia, and at several award winning London practices. She was able to first develop her strong conceptional skills at smaller practices, after which she gained substantial technical and construction experience with BIM based projects at two larger practices.

Alongside her professional experience, she has taken part in volunteering and sustainability activities. She was a founding member of Farrells’ Sustainability Group, supported the work of climate action groups, and volunteered as a RIBA Ambassador in 2019. In her spare time she has developed skills in HTML and CSS to develop personal and volunteer projects designing websites and apps.

Research topic

Updated sumaries

December, 14, 2021

September, 14, 2021

A framework for sustainable and affordable housing using Industrialised Construction

 

Industrialised Construction (IC) is a broad term which encompasses systematic and controlled production. IC is no longer synonymous with mass production and prefabrication, and novel methods are more often taking place on site. Today IC is used to deliver customer-oriented housing through mass customisation and is increasingly used in combination with ICTs such as BIM to implement lean methods. Recent advancements in IC and ICTs have created a paradigm shift in the Architecture Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry, with a different view of the building lifetime that goes beyond practical completion.

 

There is growing attention on utilising IC to provide innovative solutions for today’s housing challenges in sustainability and affordability, in addition to managing building complexity and coordination with various fields. Recent ambitious EU targets to deliver Net Zero Energy Buildings and to incorporate circular economy have put increasing pressure on the construction industry to shift from the current paradigm to a more sustainable one. When used in conjunction with economies of scale IC can improve build quality, minimise waste, and reduce cost and time of construction. However, there needs to be a greater understanding of IC by both technical and non-technical stakeholders for its benefits to be fully realised.

 

This project will investigate the benefits that a combination of industrialised methods and ICTs can provide in delivering sustainable and affordable housing. The research will seek to establish methods suitable for housing within a BIM-centric framework, demonstrating the benefits in terms of sustainability and affordability supported with case studies in collaboration with construction company Grupo Casais. The methodology will include establishing indicators in conjunction with Life Cycle Analysis. This will cover all building stages, including beyond the end-of life-stage for a circular approach. The proposed outputs will include a framework and guidelines for actors involved in the delivery of housing.

A framework for sustainable development of housing using Industrialised Construction

 

Industrialised Construction (IC) is a broad term which encompasses systematic and controlled production. IC is no longer synonymous with mass production and prefabrication, and novel methods are more often taking place on site. Today IC is used to deliver customer-oriented housing through mass customisation and is increasingly used in combination with ICTs such as BIM to implement lean methods. IC raises the question of what constitutes a ‘home’; arguably some of the innovative methods intended for other purposes such as travel, military use, or product design, which have been adapted to housing are inherently unsuitable.

 

There is growing attention on utilising IC to provide innovative solutions for today’s housing challenges in sustainability and affordability, in addition to managing building complexity and coordination with various fields. Recent ambitious EU targets to deliver Net Zero Energy Buildings and to incorporate circular economy have put increasing pressure on the construction industry to shift from the current paradigm to a more sustainable one. When used in conjunction with economies of scale IC can improve build quality, minimise waste, and reduce cost and time of construction. However, there needs to be a greater understanding of IC by both technical and non-technical stakeholders for its benefits to be fully realised.

 

This project will investigate the benefits that a combination of industrialised methods and ICTs can provide in delivering sustainable and affordable housing. The research will seek to establish current methods suitable for housing within a framework, demonstrating the benefits in terms of sustainable development supported with case studies in collaboration with construction company Grupo Casais. Using a systems approach, the methodology will include establishing indicators in conjunction with Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). The analysis will cover all building stages, including beyond the end-of life-stage for a circular approach in line with the Level(s) framework. The proposed outputs will include a framework and guidelines for actors involved in the delivery of housing.

Blog

Recent activity

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Nicosia: The divided city

Posted on 13-12-2021

Due to Covid-related delays, the first RE-DWELL summer school took place last month at the Cypriot host institution in Nicosia. The week-long activities served to enrich the development of our individual research projects whilst enabling us to build on our connections with fellow Early-Stage Researchers (ESR), the supervising team, and external speakers. Despite Nicosia being the capital city of Cyprus, the urban scale was much more modest than I had expected. The historic area had a village feel, which was mainly residential and generally only built up to 2 storeys high, with many friendly stray cats roaming the streets. Nicosia is in fact Europe’s last divided city, bearing similarities to the German capital Berlin which was divided for approximately 50 years – Nicosia has so far been divided for almost as long. The Turkish-Cypriot border reaches across the island and extends up into Nicosia, neatly dividing the circular Walled Old City into two halves [1]. This week was therefore not only valuable in terms of workshop activities, but also in understanding the political and social situation there, and how it has manifested in the city masterplan and architecture.   The division I began to learn more about the history behind the divide through casual conversations with the locals, including the two ESRs based in Nicosia, as well as with the host supervisors from the University of Cyprus: Nadia Charalambous and Andreas Savvides. At the end of the week, we were given an informative lecture by Athina Papadopoulou, the conservation architect and head of the Greek Cypriot Nicosia Master Plan team since 2010. The official division of Cyprus took place in 1974 and resulted in a Greek-Cypriot south side - occupying around two thirds of the island - and a Turkish-Cypriot north side (Oktay, 2007). This resettlement programme displaced populations of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, creating refugees on both sides. During our visit we learned about the temporary refugee housing which at the time included tents and brick and mortar homes, the latter of which still exist today. Papadopoulou presented to us the bi-communal initiative to develop a twin masterplan which was funded by USAID through UNHCR & UNDP. This project is based on restoration of individual sites on both sides, such as houses, markets, and historic monuments to name a few. On our visit to the Turkish-Cypriot side of the Walled Old City we were able to visit some of these on a tour with Papadopoulou.   The buffer zone The UN has the responsibility of securing the buffer zone – also known as ‘the Green Line’ – and its checkpoints, as well as facilitating communication between the two territories. As explained by Papadopoulou, the buffer zone itself presents additional issues as houses and buildings left in this strip of land are falling into disrepair, with many at risk of collapse. The buffer is a demilitarised zone that shapes the urban fabric; it is non-uniform, with wide and narrow sections. However, limited access to the area (which requires a UN guide) creates a barrier to efforts to repair any of the buildings located here. Interestingly, I learned from a ESR based in Nicosia that the border also restricts the movement of animals, so for example you cannot visit for the day and casually take your pet dog with you. It seemed strange to me to enforce such restrictions on an island with a single ecosystem where the large populations of stray cats, birds and other small mammals are constantly freely crossing the border.   Planning for the future Whether or not the city and the island are politically unified will undoubtedly influence house prices on both sides. The cost of living and rent is currently considerably cheaper on the Turkish-Cypriot side. Speaking with an ESR, who is also an economist, I was able to get a better understanding of the financial implications to the possibility of reunification. As housing is also considered a financial asset, there is incentive for developers and private individuals to buy properties in the historic centre whilst prices are low, in the hope of the value increasing with reunification. Therefore, capitalist motivations may also inadvertently have a shared interest in reunification efforts - particularly within the Walled Old City.   The summer school ended with the viewing of documentary film ‘Anamones’ followed by a discussion with architect Andri Tsiouti who collaborated on the production of the documentary. The film investigates the sociological impact of designing in starter bars (structural steel rods) protruding from the roofs of homes in Cyprus for “future use”. Interviews with parents who had the starter bars built had ‘speculated’ that their children would want to build an additional floor to live above their parents. This film included some light-hearted and humorous interviews with the young adult generation, the majority of whom expressed that they would prefer to live more independently and have more distance from their parents. This served to highlight the importance of knowing what the end-user needs are in the design process in housing, which is one of the key issues being explored by the RE-DWELL network.   Looking forward to Cyprus’ future, there are hopes for reconciliation with projects for cohesion also taking place in the form of social bi-communal events that include meetings, gatherings, and conversations for peace and reunification. I am keen to see how these architectural, urban, and social projects will be able to reshape the city of Nicosia and the island as a whole in a positive way in the years to come.   References Oktay, D. (2007) ‘An analysis and review of the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus, and new perspectives’, Geography, 92(3), pp. 231–247. doi: 10.1080/00167487.2007.12094203.   Bibliography https://unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/thepep/en/workplan/urban/documents/petridouNycosiamasterplan.pdf

Summer schools, Reflections

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Links between sustainability and BIM

Posted on 10-12-2021

The Lisbon workshop not only facilitated training activities, but it was also the first opportunity to finally meet the fellow Early-Stage Researchers in person after 3 months of online encounters. During the 3-day workshop we were able to have fruitful conversations and some lively debates ranging from the use of the term ‘vulnerable people’, to how to ethically carry out community-led projects in practice, to intersectionality. Activities included a roundtable discussion, lectures, and site visits to the Boavista eco-neighbourhood and self-build housing in Marvila to name a few. These provided different lenses with which to view a holistic sustainable approach such as more intangible social aspects, as well as ways to digitally support and represent this information.   Discussions about BIM Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a methodology that focuses on emerging technology to parametrically model and operate building information within a digital platform (Love et al., 2013). BIM will play a crucial role in the future of housing to be able to measure and meet sustainability targets through improved energy and resource efficiency throughout the entire lifespan of a building. We had two lectures which focused on BIM, one given by Miguel Pires from construction company Grupo Casais and another by Miguel Azenha from Minho University in Portugal. Grupo Casais’ lecture gave valuable insights into how BIM software is currently being used within industry. Miguel Azenha’s lecture provided a methodological perspective covering standardisation and circularity, according to whom standardisation is affecting BIM and influencing the way people in construction are using information. In addition, circular economy principles are implicit to the concept of BIM and support the feasibility for Design for Deconstruction (DfD). Interestingly, BIM was also described as object-oriented modelling, in which even voids are modelled as objects. This lead me question how can ‘intangible’ social sustainability factors (such as health and wellbeing of residents) also be represented in a BIM environment which is object oriented?   Social sustainability and impact on communities As mentioned, the workshop included visits to neighbourhoods in Lisbon that had incorporated sustainability and affordability into their design, including a visit to Boavista (a new sustainable neighbourhood providing rented social housing) led by architect Miguel Brito from Lisbon municipality [1]. The homes in the completed and inhabited pilot neighbourhood were based on a modular design - though built using traditional construction techniques. Within the project, there was a focus on improving energy efficiency to reduce fuel bills, whilst upgrading and rehousing an existing community previously located only one road away. During the trip we were invited inside the homes on a small tour where we were able to talk with residents and find out what life is like in the new neighbourhood. Importantly, this pilot project provides the opportunity to address any design issues for the roll-out of the planned future neighbourhoods in Lisbon that will be based on the same design.   Another project which centred on dialogues with residents to foster community participation was informal settlement Terras da Costa (located 10km from Lisbon) presented by architect and urban researcher Joana Pestana Lages (Pestana Lages and Gouveia Braga, 2016). The informal settlement is home to a Cape-Verdean community that has lived in the area for decades. The municipality planned to rehouse the residents in a resettlement project, the social implications of which were discussed by Lages. The new housing solution had the potential to socially isolate residents as well having a negative economic impact, as some residents relied on the land to keep livestock as part of their livelihood. Conventional European housing therefore posed the potential to radically change the lives of the residents that would move into them. The numerous issues raised by Lages in the case of informal settlements and the human right for all to live and thrive in our cities (Harvey, 2003) is relevant across Europe. There are informal settlements in several member states currently under transformation in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including Cuñada Real in Madrid which is Europe’s largest informal settlement.   How to link social sustainability and BIM? Coming away from the workshop, I have been keen to ensure my own research project provides holistic solutions to sustainable and affordable housing in combination with ICTs such as BIM. The importance and challenges of incorporating social aspects of sustainability is represented by a growing body of research in Social Life Cycle Analysis (SLCA). This can be understood as a component of the “Triple Bottom Line” (TBL) model of sustainability which integrates environmental, economic, and social indicators. This can be achieved through using the corresponding methodologies of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) (environmental), Life Cycle Costing Analysis (LCCA) (economic), together with Social Life Cycle Analysis (SLCA) (social). BIM plays a key role in measuring and unifying these holistic indicators. This is important to document during the typical 50 to 60 years of a building’s lifespan to ensure that not only environmental targets are met, but to ensure a high quality of life for inhabitants. This information becomes even more crucial at the ‘beyond building life stage’ when housing is ultimately deconstructed and reused - long after the working lifetime of the original design team. These themes are currently being explored during the forming of my individual research project, in which I am investigating Industrialised Construction in connection with BIM and sustainability.   References Harvey, D. (2003) ‘The Right to the City’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27, pp. 939–941. doi: 10.1111/j.0309-1317.2003.00492.x. Love, P. E. D. et al. (2013) ‘From justification to evaluation: Building information modeling for asset owners’, Automation in Construction, 35, pp. 208–216. doi: 10.1016/j.autcon.2013.05.008. Pestana Lages, J. and Gouveia Braga, J. (2016) ‘There is Africa in Lisbon’, in Embodying difference in the discourse and practices of urban planning. Zurich, pp. 1–11. Available at: https://ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/conference-websites-dam/no-cost-housing-dam/documents/Lages_Paper.pdf.   Bibliography Further reading on BIM and object-oriented modelling: Van Nederveen, S., Beheshti, R. and Gielingh, W. (2010) ‘Modelling Concepts for BIM’, in Underwood, J. and Isikdag, U. (eds) Handbook of research on building information modelling and construction informatics: concepts and technologies. IGI Global Publishing, pp. 1–18. doi: 10.4018/978-1-60566-928-1.ch001.

Workshops, Reflections

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Embracing transdisciplinarity

Posted on 15-07-2021

I have to admit, before embarking on this journey with the Marie-Curie International Training Network I was unfamiliar with the term transdisciplinary. The work of myself and 14 other Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will use this concept to carry out our research with RE-DWELL, crossing the boundaries of our respective projects within the areas of design, policy and finance, and community participation.   My first practical experience getting to grips with transdisciplinarity - in the context of learning – began with our kick-off workshops last week. This was the first opportunity to meet the other ESRs, hailing from Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. As a part of the introductory sessions, we were tasked with defining sustainability, affordability and transdisciplinarity in small groups.   This was a particularly interesting task, as we were put in mixed groups with ESRs from different professional and academic backgrounds. It was also the first opportunity to speak one-to-one and get to know my fellow ESRs, and gain an understanding of their perspectives on the core issues of sustainability and affordability, relative to their field. My group consisted of two architects (myself included) and a political-scientist. Combining our mixed experiences brought up some interesting points which I am sure would not have been considered, had it just been limited to architects.   Since the current Covid-19 pandemic online working environments are now the norm. But it is hard to imagine otherwise how these workshops could have been delivered as efficiently and effectively. The use of visual concept boards and virtual breakout rooms meant we could be organised in groups and present information with ease (plus it meant we significantly reduced our carbon footprints!). Of course, this isn’t a replacement for in-person collaboration, and I look forward to meeting the ESRs and the wider training network in the coming months. However, these workshops have demonstrated the usefulness of online working environments to facilitate transdisciplinary learning.

Workshops

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