My First Week

After only a week at my new office, I had to go in to work on a Sunday!
But don’t worry, it wasn’t to do work, it was to help host our open day for Architecture Week. The building in which we work won a RIBA award a few years ago, and people from the general public and the architectural community are apparently always looking to get in and have a look at it. The residence half of the building is made from straw bales with a clear polycarbonate cladding over it to expose the bales, and the office half is clad in a quilted fabric on one side and exposed concrete sandbags to the other side, raised up over the entry undercroft by large gabions (columns made from wire cages filled with broken up recycled concrete.) We put display boards on the materials to show what they are, where they came from and all sorts of environmental details such as their CO2 emission, toxicity level, durability etc. We also put our 2 months waste on display in big cages to indicate what is recycled and what can’t be recycled and where it goes. Inside the office we displayed the environmental footprint of a number of office consumables including paper, pencils, tea and coffee, water, electricity etc, showing where they came from, distance travelled, and end of life after they leave the office. I had to quickly get up to speed on the history and materials of the building so I could be a good office guide to the visitors, which was a great induction into the office for me. I didn’t count but I think we had at least 50 visitors over the 4 hours. The dedication here is amazing, all week the staff were doing stuff for this open day during their lunch hours and after work (and during work time too) going into great detail. We now know that our office paper comes from a recycled paper plant in Kent and that our waste paper that leaves the office to be recycled goes back to the same plant to close the life-cycle loop, that our office drinks 6000 cups of tea in a year, that our large plastic drinking water bottles are refilled 70 times before being recycled, and that Thames Water won’t tell us what happens to the sludge separated from our sewer, apparently that’s classified information…
It hit me this week that I have just given up working on a 30 million pound high-end apartment complex to work on a school refurbishment worth 50,000 pounds. But that’s ok, despite the down-sizing in scale I am much happier with the office, the people and the philosophy. Of course if the bigger jobs don’t start appearing eventually that may become an issue but for now things are good!
Aside from that life continues as normal.
I have taken up yoga classes at the gym, and am attempting to use the gym facilities as well when the mood takes me. Our local leisure centre is in Whitechapel and therefore attracts members of the local muslim community. There is a separate women’s only gym so that women can get out of their burkas and niquabs and don their nike tracksuits! Although most of them don’t have specialist equipment and wear an assortment of things including the occasional long cotton kaftan-style thing and walking sandals, a bit odd when they are trying to run on a treadmill. Going past the main gym I catch glimpses of aged muslim gentlemen with their hennaed beards, sporting the latest adidas gym shoes, it’s an interesting look.
Choir is going well, we seem to be rehearsing all the time – I spent 5 hours at a Saturday rehearsal last weekend! Our performance is on the 11th July, in a church in South Kensington, we are performing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle which is a mass for four soloists and choir and goes for 1.5 hours. I’m sure Justin is looking forward to attending our performance with great anticipation.
Well that’s all for now, I must get back to work on my little job.

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4 Responses to My First Week

  1. Gaz says:

    Sounds like you have found a place that matches your ideals quite well. I hope it all works out.

    Does singing with an Aussie accent cause any issues? 😉 hehehe

    Regards,
    [email protected]

  2. Calinda says:

    Congratulations on your new job Jane. Sounds like the perfect job for you. I imagine in the current climate of more and more environmentally friendly everything your office will receive bigger jobs in the future. Good luck, hopefully it all goes well.

  3. Greg says:

    Hey you 2,

    Just spent a bit of time catching up on you both and wanted to send a cheery ‘Hi’ from me & Leisha. Sounds like things are getting better and better for you both.

    🙂 gsb.

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