Thursday, 13 January 2011


If every book needs an opening para which hooks the reader in, then every blog requires a striking picture. I thought that posted above abundantly 'fit for purpose'.

When viewing the videos below I had a niggling feeling of familiarity; then it came to me.

There of COURSE any resemblance ends as I couldn't POSSIBLY compare the movie of architect Malcolm Fraser giving a lecture to council members and planners of Edinburgh with the 1922 movie Nosferatu  (although the latter possibly had higher production values) and naturally I have not increased the household supplies of garlic to any significant extent. No sireee.

Image courtesy of

Thought these needed wider publicity as in the main a great deal of what Malcolm says I agree with (and vice versa?)  and mostly have touched on (see selection below*) in this 'ere blog before:

  • the madness of VAT inequality on zero rated new build v repair/re-use, which attracts the full 20% ;

  • the infuriating barminess and loss of industrial & transport heritage of the permission given for demolition of the Cat B listed Madelvic factory in Granton by the City of Edinburgh Council, which could & should have been re-used;

  • sustainability not always about high tech solutions which are complex, off putting for many, and may not recoup the outlay;  see Scottish Housing Expo posts, also the MFA 'people's choice' winning house design (you read it here first...). Sustainable design should be big on re-use of what we have, excellent insulation, natural ventilation, and use of sustainable materials (another plug for  timber & zinc);

  • architects should be designing for the 21st century without recourse to slavish copies of the past, with sensitivity to context;

...and no doubt other stuff besides (RMJM, and er.. RMJM... oh and Mr Duany...)

The Whitecross development, winner of the recent government Scottish Sustainable Communities Initiative competition, which Malcolm Fraser Architects won, against stiff opposition, was the reason for this lecture, though Malcolm clearly took the opportunity of a captive audience for a wee rant (I mean that in a good way) about a number of issues.

I hope those attending listened.

So here it is! Malcolm Fraser: The Movie (in three parts, so you can have an ice cream AND a popcorn break):

*Here's that staircase scene from 1922:

Most  of the movie is here:




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