gill moore photography

Archive for the 'eco-friendly' Category

British Design Classics on the new Royal Mail stamps


How very nice to see great British designs getting some deserving attention.  These images are all featured on the current edition of stamps from Royal Mail, you can download a preview pdf from their site.  One little tiny thing, it would be useful to have the year also listed but that’s just me nit-picking.

It is hard to argue with any of those choices.  My fave would have to be Harry Beck’s London Underground map – what an absolute feat of patience and genius.

I am sure I was reading the other day that the City of London is working on commissioning a new eco-Routemaster bus based very firmly on the original design.  Or did I dream that?

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What is ‘ecofont’ and where to recycle old printer ink cartridges? …


Many of us try and avoid having to print things out onto paper nowadays.   However, sometimes the need for a hard copy is impossible to ignore.  I stumbled across Ecofont the other day over at Manchester-based blogger Lucy Danger’s “3R’s Recycling” site and it sounds like an interesting idea.

Ecofont is a newly created print font which you can download for free onto your PC or Mac.  It has a crisp modern feel but because of the holes within each letter it aims to use 20% less ink than any other font.  Next time I need to do a printout I shall give it a go and report back.  You can download the font and read a little more about it on the ecofont website.

Continuing in the recycling vein, I recently had to replace a whole load of ink cartridges on my printer and spent some time researching the best place to recycle them.  It used to be difficult getting anywhere to accept Epson cartridges for recycling but it seem they are trying to improve their green credentials and now offer a free recycling box for companies which can be requested through their website.   For individuals it is possible to log onto their website and request a freepost bag or use their freepost address with your own envelope.

I had HP and Canon cartridges and used; very simple just visit the website, request a freepost envelope and pop your old ink carts inside and post back.

The greenest option, if you live in a town or city, might be to drop off used cartridges at your local charity shop.  Most of them offer this facility and the charity can sometimes get a small financial reward in the process.

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How does a rather excellent real ale and the UK’s largest sedum roof go together?


I recently saw a very large and impressive sedum roof at the Wildfowl and Wetlands site at Martin Mere, Lancashire. It got me wondering who can lay claim to having the largest sedum roof in the UK?

I felt sure it would be housed somewhere like the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth (Wales) or maybe one of the large regenerative building schemes undertaken over the last few years for eco-friendly social housing or public buildings?

I did find a few nice examples of sedum and regular green roof schemes:

Certainly quite a number of educational buildings such as St. Martins-in-the-field Girls’ School, London roof and one at Cambridge University plus many new build schools across the country.

The well-known Eden Project has a small green roof, the most picturesque I could find was the Gallie Craig Coffee Shop, Drummore, Scotland. Wow, I SO want a hot beverage there now! :-)


Sometimes the choice to create a green roof was by necessity, such as the restaurant within St. James Park, London; any design for the new roof there had to blend in with the surrounding parkland or it would not gain planning permission.

An award-winning illustration on my doorstep here in Manchester is the Norman Foster designed scheme called Budenberg HAUS which has 4,500 square metres of green roof sited on the edge of Altrincham overlooking the Bridgewater Canal.


The largest UK green roof (not wholly sedum) is at the Rolls Royce factory near Chichester which has a huge roof space measured at 40,000 square metres.

Eventually after a fascinating journey delving into various schemes I found a winner … and a real-ale brewery at that! Any real-ale fans will have heard of Champion Beer Brewers Adnams who are based on the Suffolk Coast in Southwold. In 2005 beer sales were up and faced with this growing demand they realised that a new distribution centre was required.

Adnams website lists their environmental goals “We aim to manage our impact positively on the social, natural, and built environment” and on this newbuild project they certainly went for it, not only creating the UK’s biggest sedum living roof but also building the Centre predominently from bricks formed using locally-grown hemp, lime and chalk.

These building materials certainly earn green brownie points (sorry I couldn’t resist!) but they also add effective functionality. Acting rather like a cellar, it maintains a steady 11 degrees celsius temperature within the warehouse, and means there is no need for expensive air-conditioning units. Heating for the offices is provided by solar panels. Though the initial build for the scheme was higher than a conventional approach, is has meant running costs are nearly half what they were at the Brewers smaller previous warehouse. So in the long term it will result in a considerable cost saving.

The roof itself is predominently sedum. These low maintenance, fleshy, thick skinned succulents have excellent insulation properties and also help filter out air pollutants. The plants are low maintenance and usually require no artificial irrigation, they absorb sound (useful in an urban environment) and can provide a habitat for birds and wildlife. The Adnams planting scheme also included regional wildflowers and wild grasses to supplement the sedum and to blend more naturally with local flora.

However, Adnams may soon be knocked off the top of their green perch. Work is ongoing on a scheme in Hemel Hempstead for a new Indoor Ski Centre. The sedum roof here will be a jaw-dropping 21,500 square metres and is set to open in the summer of 2009.

I have rather skirted over the pioneering use of the hemp and lime bricks on this project, but that is only because I am planning a longer post on this Stone Age plant and it’s modern applications in the very near future.

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Creative Studio sharing … a Danish example but it needs a green roof!

Maybe one day I will dabble in a bit of studio sharing. I often think it sounds like a stimulating and fun environment to work within, different creative skillsets all housed in one building with the possibility of collaboration plus the practical benefits of sharing facilities. Whilst savouring the wonderful design work on the bloesem site, I discovered a successful creative workspace enterprise called ‘Lynfabrikken’ (the lightning factory) based in Denmark.
I suppose the closest thing we have here in Manchester would be The Craft and Design Centre but it rents out only small units and does not have the space to attract photographers/musicians/film-makers. Maybe Islington Mill has the potential to grow into something bigger, though the Danish example seems to have a more central location and therefore the ability to morph itself into trendy cafe, place to be seen plus a gallery and performance venue. Lynfabrikken is open to the public with opportunities to buy and view unique work and provides a meeting spot for all the creative tenants and their clients.
I shall carry on with my idealised daydream for the Perfect Studio ….
Of course it would have to utilise all roof space, maybe a green living roof similar to the Unicorn Grocery roof project in Chorlton, their site has a live web-cam (you can actually control the camera movements!).
The Unicorn scheme provides a green escape for their employees and was designed specifically to attract the rare black redstart, a bird happy in the urban environment but rapidly disappearing from the UK. There have been reports of at least one breeding pair of these birds this summer in the centre of Manchester (near the CIS building) so maybe they will wing their way over to Unicorn one day soon.

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Who will be crowned England’s premier Cycle City? Cycling England Funding up for grabs …







Did anyone know that 19 towns and cities in England have reached the final shortlist in a competition to find the country’s first Cycling City and ten new Cycling Towns?  I certainly didn’t, but  I was delighted to see Manchester is in the pot for the Cycling City Award.  The winner is to be announced in early June 2008.  A list of all the shortlisted towns and cities can be found here.

There have been 6 pioneer Cycle Demonstration Towns operating a pro-cycling policy for the last 3 years.  These are Aylesbury, Brighton & Hove, Darlington, Derby, Exeter, Lancaster & Morecombe.

Some of the benefits a winning area will gain are extra funding (up to £500,000), advice on best practice, access to other Cycle England funded programmes and support with promotion and monitoring.

Is it all hot air?  I guess if it pushes cycling up the news headline barometer, no bad thing.  To take an example from one of the previously successful “Cycle Demonstration Towns” namely Brighton,  here it certainly seems to have kick-started the Council to become more cycle-friendly.  They match-funded the Cycle England’s contribution, which promises a £3 million investment in cycling over the next 3 years.  Brighton is a town which has seen cycling increase by 47% since 2000 and with 45% of city-workers travelling less than 3 miles, then this presents a fantastic opportunity to inform and tempt those workers to ditch the car and travel on two wheels.

UPDATE :  Today it is Wednesday 18th June and still NO announcement and NO explanation on the cycle demo towns decision.  I guess we’ll just have to keep watching on the Cycling England website.  Of course I will post the winners as soon as the “powers-that-be” make a decision.

UPDATE TWO : Yes the decision is out this morning (Thurs 19th June 2008), Bristol is the winner,  it will become the UK’s first “Cycling City”.  It is probably not a massive surprise as historically Bristol has always projected a very strong supportive relationship with local cyclists and aimed to encourage cycling in the area.  Sadly (for me anyway) Manchester doesn’t get a look in, it is not even on the demonstration town list of winners, those are: York, Stoke, Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Leighton, Shrewsbury, Southend, Southport and Woking.  Read more on this story here.  Good luck to all the chosen towns and cities, hopefully this extra money will allow and encourage more people to cycle and using pedal-power becomes a more enjoyable, respected, desirable and safer experience in urban areas. There is further BBC piece here which looks at Bristol and attitudes to the city winning the award and the difference it could make.
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Chelsea Flower Show 2008: My 3 favourite design ideas.






The Chelsea Flower Show 2008 has been taking place this week and amongst the showy big-budget affairs you can always pick out a few clever and inspiring designs.

Three of my favourite ideas were:

1) The walls on the “Pemberton Greenish Recess Garden” by Paul Hensey and Neil Lucas. Awarded a Silver Gilt Medal.






One of the main designers is Paul Hensey based in Lancashire, England. His background is in product design and I think his roots shine through brilliantly within this garden. He frames the planting by creating tactile and innovative walls, one is made from recycled blocks of off-cut wood which has the added benefit of absorbing sound, very useful in an urban setting. Simple, neat and brilliant.

2) The use of mosses in the “Midori No Tobira (The Green Door) Garden” by Ishihara Kazuyuki . Awarded a Gold Medal.











This Japanese designer draws inspiration from “the smell of moist earth, the softness and sheen of wet rocks, the irregular flow of water” and always brings elements of innovative Japanese garden design to his work. Using vertical “living walls”, planting on spare roof space and working to a perfectly natural colour scheme of white, blue and green his creations are always wonderfully soothing spaces. Inspirational and relevant.

3) The firepit in the “Fleming’s and Trailfinder’s Australian Garden” by Jamie Durie. Awarded a Gold Medal.









Created with a budget of £400,000 and featuring a myriad of native Australian plants this garden is a stunner but probably a little out of reach for your ordinary Pom. The neat design of the firepit within a central circular table may prove useful though. Imagine being able to brave a chilly UK evening with a clear dusk night falling, some “al fresco” dining could be possible with a crackling fire providing some warmth. Turning the fire pit into a barbecue would give still more functionality. A win-win for me.
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