Friday, 28 September 2012

I'm not afraid to admit...I'm a Kevin McCloud fan

For many visitors to the 2012 Grand Designs Live event in Melbourne the show offered a chance to see a range of new products and services aimed at homeowners housed under one roof...but for me it was about Kevin McCloud.

I have followed the TV show closely for the past 10 years, watching barn and water tank conversions, glass, timber and straw new builds and of course the trials and tribulations of the self-builder.

Kevin has always given a no holds barred critique of the design and build process of these ambitious projects, often at times appearing a bit harsh in his criticism.

But for those of us who listened to his presentation in Melbourne last weekend we got a very different impression of the man.

The fact the theatre was bursting at the seams an hour before he arrived showed the level of celebrity Kevin now has, he is no longer just a guy hosting a design show, he commands a crowd because you can really learn something from him.

He was genuinely taken back by the support he received and gave a down to earth presentation which was both personal and educational.

He talked about the risk in creating a grand design, despite the known facts of budget and schedule over runs, stress level increases and difficulty in getting it 100% right, ultimately its human nature to want to create your own haven and the reward at the end of the process is well worth it.

Kevin also shared his own passion for sustainable housing, now in his 5th social housing development in the UK, Kevin allowed the first project to be filmed but says the process was horrible and an invasion of privacy for the home-owners and for that reason her won't be doing it again. His honesty in admitting where he went wrong was to be admired. 

During his `slumming it' program where he went to live in Asia's largest slum for 2 weeks to learn about the sense of community, his research uncovered an alarming statistic that it is estimated by the time the world's population reaches 9 billion, 3 billion people will be living in slums.

When it came to discussing some of his favourite episodes Kevin didn't just talk about the buildings, architecture and design, in fact in most cases what he talked about was the people. We discovered many of the owners had become friends and Kevin continued to be a part of their lives long after the show.

In terms of the future of moden architecture he believes we are starting to create new design languages rather than re-labelling traditional styles from past eras like the 50's.

This current project of a stacked box style design with camouflaged windows was given as an example of the type of exciting design he is starting to see.

Following the 30 minute presentation I left the theatre inspired and wandered the show floor to soak up all I could, it was great to see so many Australia companies and designs of world-class standard and it was evident the celebrity of Kevin McCloud had attracted a high standard of exhibitors.

If you get a chance to attend this event in the future I highly recommend it and of course watch Grand Designs for your Kevin fix.

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