E Floor

Jan 09 - 2020

Sustainable materials and products – masses of them out there apparently, but how do we properly assess exactly how sustainable anything is? There are various schemes, labels and means of accreditation, great variation between and within countries, huge scope for monetising the sustainability industry and the larger the organisation the more obscure the details.

One way of negotiating this minefield is to seek out smaller businesses who produce one or only a few things. For example Foresso who have a single product, a timber terrazzo sheet material made from timber and plaster waste and 0% VOC resin cast onto an 18mm birch plywood substrate. Locally sourced, using 85% recycled material and aiming for 100% asap by developing a resin-free binder, the finished product is inherently durable and can be returned and ground down to start again at the end of its use.

Perhaps because this is a relatively small business, or maybe because they are highly skilled and totally committed, Foresso have clear sight over their whole operation and make all decisions based on environmental consideration.

A beautiful material, with clearly described sustainable credentials.


Foresso timber terrazzo

Dalston kitchen flooring

Azure Mono / British Oak in a pale blue binder

Ivory Duo / British Walnut and Cedar of Lebanon



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Foresso kitchen floor Foresso Ivory Foresso Azure

Simple Luxe

Sep 29 - 2019

Grand Parc: Cheap is more

Employing their trademark luxury in simplicity, or cheap-is-more, Lacaton & Vassal have revived an unloved block in Bordeaux by changing its face and restoring interiors: a fast, low budget scheme with no displacement and minimal waste or environmental impact.

Original facades have been replaced with a new layer of winter garden providing an impressive public front, more internal space, improved energy efficiency and glorious views across the city from each apartment. In total 530 flats were refurbished in 12 to 16 days, at around €50,000 per unit, roughly half as much as a new-build scheme.

Compare and contrast with the typical approach in London where unfashionable blocks on large areas of green space are seen not as homes to be improved, but opportunities for private profit. Elephant and Castle is a case in point with the Heygate and Aylesbury estates razed, communities split and residents ‘relocated’ for dense blocks with minimum so-called affordable rents.

Travelling in Europe I am struck by the difference in attitude to building and managing urban communities. In France and Spain there is a positive commitment to making the city liveable, with open spaces, modern markets, small scale industry, trams and cycleways fully integrated with commerce and civic activity. In the UK profit rules, with no widely-heard public debate on the value or relevance of the developer-led built environment, and little room for the kind of clear design-thinking exhibited at Grand Parc.

UK, could do better, 



Grand Parc before, after, winter gardens

Aylesbury Estate SE17 demolition



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Grand Parc before Grand Parc after Grand Parc winter gardens Heygate SE17

24 hours in Milan

Mar 27 - 2019

Broken Nature Design Takes on Human Survival

Alice Rawsthorn wrote about Paola Antonelli and this exhibition in Wallpaper and in her series of Instagram posts on women in design, which led me to visit this vast, staggeringly beautiful, revealing and even hopeful exhibition.

Humans and the natural world: what have we done, what are we doing, and is there such a things as restorative design? Too much to see and take in in one visit, I'm working through the catalogue.

One example, a housing project by Chilean architects Elemental where limited resources are used to design and build half a good house, for completion as and when by the resident. Incremental design, shifting prejudices and addressing social inequality.

XXII International Exhibition of La Triennale di MilanoMarch–September 2019 

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Elemental Chile Broken Nature Broken Nature poster