Grand Designs Live - Greener Technology for your home

Meera explored Grand Designs Live at London's Excel centre to find greener ways to fill your home with gadgets.....
09 May 2010

Interview with 

Kevin McCloud, Anthony Goody, Brit O'Sullivan


Chris -   Now, it's time to join Meera Senthilingam for a bit of a technology update because this month, she has been at the Grand Designs Live Show.  This is a London based exhibition which is inspired by the television program of the same name, and it celebrates innovation in architecture, and Meera's been along to find out a bit more...

Meera -   This week, the Grand Designs Live Show has been taking place at the Excel Centre in London.  There are over 500 exhibitors and displays, showcasing ways to design, improve and power your home.  There's a whole host of technology and gadgets on display so I've come along to see what's on offer.  Now I'm here with the man behind Grand Designs Live, Kevin McCloud.  Now Kevin, what's Grand Designs Live all about?

Corrugated cardboardKevin -   In a sense I suppose it's about bringing the television shows to life.  So it's about giving people the experience at an exhibition which is rich and exciting, and educational.  What we can do is show people all the stuff that goes into buildings and what makes them tick and work, and give them a good time.  There's a lot of seminars and events for them to take part in.

Meera -   What are the key themes about this year's show in terms of house design?

Kevin -   Year-on-year, we try and steer it more and more in the direction of sustainability.  We now have a full green audit of every single exhibitor and of the whole show.  [In the Kevin's Green Heroes section] there are ten products which represent different aspects of construction and design, from furniture through to insulation and carpet which are little known.  And there are some really fun things here as well.

Meera -   There's a great variety actually.  So there are recycled clothes pegs, there's a wonderful wardrobe over there made of cardboard.

Kevin -   Yeah.

Meera -   Which actually looks quite sturdy.

Kevin -   Yeah that's Giles Miller.  He's cardboard king.  He makes beautiful cardboard, and beautiful cardboard lampshades too. And the eco-force clothes pegs!  I put them in because somebody said to me, "you know clothes pegs, there's a company that make them out of recycled plastic."  I said, "Yes."  Well surely, all clothes pegs are made out of recycled plastic and I thought, we just have to put them in just to make the point really. 

And we're standing on this - look I have to show you - this is amazing stuff.  This is carpet we're standing on.  They're carpet tiles, about 12 inches square.  They're brown and black and gray.  I think they look quite glamorous and they're very durable and hard wearing, and I've got one here.  Each carpet is just a backing and on it, the strips are 12 inches long and it's just a piece of car tyre.  It's just a piece of car tyre that they then brush to bring out the pile of the fibres that were inside the tire.  This is a minimally processed product.  It's made from tyres and it looks beautiful and glamorous.  I love that.  The problem is at the moment about 7 percent of tyres are recycled and we throw 486,000 tons of old tires away every year in this country.  We can't put them in landfill anymore, you can't even put the rubber crumb in landfills, so we need to think about what we're going to do with the stuff, and we should think about doing that in a way which minimally processes them.  I put this in because it just ticks all those boxes.  It's an amazing product.


Meera -   With me now is Anthony Goody who's a technology expert for Media Tech.  We're inside the Phillips House of the Future and so, what exactly will the house of the future be about?

Anthony -   The house of the future will be adopting some different themes of how we move forward of all our future technology. Our main one is energy conscious living.  So it's how we reduce the impact our homes have on the environment in the future, from everything from reducing our water consumption to reducing our energy consumption.  Switching to LED lighting for instance could actually reduce power consumption at home by up to 90% when compared to standard light bulbs in the home.

Meera -   Now we're inside the House of the Future.  It's very white.  It's very bright and there's very cool looking gadgets all over the place.  So you've mentioned LEDs already which lots of gadgets and lighting around here seem to be made of, but what are the other new gadgets that are on show here?

Anthony -   One of the key products on the show at the House of the Future this year is actually our wireless power technology and this is essentially the ability to deliver power over a distance.  So it's time to cut the cord and to remove our cables from our laptops, and our phone chargers.  So essentially in the future, you'll be able to enter the house of the future, your mobile phone will instantly start charging and you'll never have to plug your laptop in again to get it charged. All of your devices, gadgetry will all be powered wirelessly.

Meera -   So at the moment, it requires localised hot spots, doesn't it?

Anthony -   That's correct, yeah.  We got localised hot spots that deliver energy power transfer around the distance of 20 centimetres, so you could have a special place on your coffee table in the lounge that charges your laptop or a special place in your kitchen that you could have to power your blender per se.  But in the future, they've actually got trials going on in America at the minute, that are delivering power in a distance of up to 3 metres.  So essentially, you can vacuum cordlessly.

Meera -   So I guess lastly, how would you summarise the house then?  It looks very pretty.  It looks very futuristic.  Is this going to be your home of the future, do you think?

Anthony -   This is definitely my ideal living scenario of the future.  This is what my home would definitely be like.  We've absolutely got everything on display here.  Obviously, we're heading this up with wireless power.  All of the devices as well are connected so all of our lighting is controlled by one central remote controlled unit.  It's just all about usability and easability of living in the future.  And of course, a smell reducing toilet just to top it off!


Meera -   Staying on the eco theme, I'm now in a home, a very comfortable home out on a roof terrace, but surprisingly, this house is made out of shipping containers.  And with me, to tell me a little bit more about this is Brit O'Sullivan who works with the company making these which is Eco-Modular Living.

Brit -   We brought with us to Grand Designs a two-bed one-bath home on two floors which is made of four shipping containers, two on top of each other.  The house is made out of standard shipping containers.  It takes 21 days from them looking like ordinary second-hand shipping containers to being turned into a home which includes carpets, recycled plaster-board walls, a kitchen, a bathroom, with all the doors, and fixtures and fittings.

Meera -   What are the main reasons for people to go for this kind of home?  What are the environmental benefits of it?

Brit -   It is very environmentally friendly.  We're using a recycled product already.  You Eco Modular Livingcan bolt on as many sustainable credentials as you like, so you can have a living roof, solar panels attached.  It's currently signed off as code 4 of the sustainability code, but if it's actually sat within the right environment, it would reach zero carbon.

Meera -   What's the market for these?  So who are you trying to attract?

Brit -   Our client base is quite diverse.  So if you think both public and private sector, we've got individuals who want to do a self-build.  Also, we are very popular at the moment with councils.  We're actually presenting and designing for various councils across the UK for affordable housing.

Meera -   I'm very comfortable out here on the terrace and I'm not yet a homeowner, so what's the retail price of this?

Brit -   This one at the moment is 95,000 which gives you two containers on the ground floor, giving you a kitchen, dining, and living area.  And then on the first floor, it gives you two bedrooms and a bathroom.  Just get your land and then we'll be there within 21 days.

Kat -   Absolutely fantastic stuff of the future.  I for one will be first in the line for the smell free toilet, living with three boys.  Anyway, that was Brit O'Sullivan from Eco Modular Living and before that you heard Anthony Goody from Media Tech, and Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs, taking Meera through the latest futuristic and environmentally friendly technology for the home.


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