Leicester's minis-only car park
Drivers who intended to use Leicester City Corporation's Wellington Street car park have been surprised recently by being turned away if their car exceeds lift in length. The car park has been re-laid out with smaller bay sizes for mini-cars only, the first shot in a Department of the Environment experiment that could produce considerable economies in the design of multistorey and ground level parks.
"At Wellington Street we've managed to provide bays for 100 cars where there were only 70 before," says George Thompson in the City engineer's department; 'with shorter cars you can reduce the amount of manouevring room required in the aisles and by excluding larger vehicles altogether the headroom in a multistorey park could be cut by 2ft down to only 6ft." For the developer this means a lower building, more parking spaces, smaller ramps and optimum site usage.
The success of the six-month experiment hinges on the amount of people regularly parking Minis or similar cars in the town centre, whether the larger vehicles displaced by this scheme can be absorbed elsewhere without additional provision of their own special parks and on the reactions of the small car drivers. Already the scheme has been criticised on the grounds that it discriminates against British cars - only the Mini falls below lift in the popular family car class whereas several Italian and Japanese models are within bounds. Some critics feel that the scheme will lead to greater pressure on Leicester's on-street parking plan.
Euroman and Eurowoman?
One highlight of the DIA Annual Conference on "Design for Europe" held at Exeter College, Oxford, in September was a lecture by Mark Lovell ("research director, Leo Burnett LPE) entitled "Is there a European?" Wittily interspersing statistics on number of telephones, and attitudes to women's lib with some on education and cultural factors he explored the difficulties of designing for "Euroman" neatly concluding with some examples of display advertising intended for several countries.
In spite of the early warning by its president, Sir Roger Falk, the DIA found it difficult to avoid sticking too literally to the limitations of a study project for private enterprise recreational centres for use in Britain and Europe. Although directed to seek solutions to the problem of briefing a designer for a complex international project, the syndicate groups not unnaturally tended to mix this objective with the much broader one of the meaning of leisure. A pity because the concluding discussion, chaired by Jack Pritchard, was too narrowly confined to amateur feasibility studies and seldom dealt with the major problem of involving designers in decision making management processes.
Bryan Llewellyn (managing director, Thomson Holidays) pointed our that although many complaints were made about package holiday deals it was less well-known that boredom was the greatest enemy of tourists and that well-designed imaginative leisure facilities should be based on a thorough knowledge of the market's varying needs. There was also some reference at the conference to Woodstock (Pop Festival) Man who Might have some lessons for the design of European leisure markets since he combined classless, gregarious and individualist attitudes with a capacity for low-coy enjoyment.
LOW SPIN-OFF BENEFITS FROM CONCORDE
The long vaunted notion that the man in the street gains immeasurably by the technological spin-off of vastly funded prestige projects like Apollo receives a hard knock from a report published by the recently formed Centre for the Study of Industrial Innovation. In two parallel studies conducted with manufacturers subcontracting on Concorde and Advanced Passenger Train contracts, the Centre researchers asked if there had been any transfer of a product developed specifically for the project into further markets and how far companies had to introduce new methods of quality control or had to become familiar with materials or processes new to them.
Only 14 per cent of the 161 Concorde supplier firms responding to the Centre's questionnaire reported that they had obtained new spin-off products from their Concorde works and 19 per cent said they had been able to improve the technical character of their non-Concorde products as a result of the work. Twenty nine
per cent of the companies had to fulfil some R&D work to fill their Concorde orders but only two thirds of these felt that it had resulted in an overall improvement in their R&D capabilities although 31 per cent of the companies found themselves imposing stricter technical specifications than they had previously needed. The report concludes that the majority of suppliers to a large development programme will be working on straightforward hardware with no more strenuous commercial or technical conditions than usual and that the view that a large project has a universal impact on the network of suppliers in terms of spin-off cannot be sustained.
The report on companies involved in the APT project, only 13 having orders over £5000 for parts of the actual train, bears out the Concorde findings but reveals new links between British Rail and two industries that it had never been in association with before, motor vehicles and aerospace. Significantly nine of the companies felt that their research design and development capability had benefited from their APT participation a higher percentage than Concorde suppliers. Companies stressed the need for production contracts to consolidate the advantages conveyed.
TIME TO RETHINK ON FORESTS - RAMBLERS' ASSOCIATION
A full scale Government enquiry into the affairs of the Forestry Commission is demanded by the Ramblers' Association in its latest "Brief for the countryside", Forestry: time to rethink.* Meanwhile, there should be no further expansion of the afforestation programme and the scope of the Commission should be limited by normal planning controls.
The Ramblers' Association pamphlet, developing a theme that has been muted in past forays between the two bodies, sets out to destroy the Forestry Commission's case for creating a large scale softwood industry in Britain, attacking it on past performance, need for strategic reserves, import saving, employment, and recreation/amenity - all points from which the Commission has argued the benefits of afforestation. On top of this, the Association contends that indiscriminate wilderness planting in Scotland (see DESIGN 262/66) and wholesale replacement of hardwood forests in Southern England with the much faster growing pines is doing great damage to the countryside.
The pamphlet points out that Britain is traditionally a tree-importing nation and cannot hope to compete with Sweden or Canada without drastic programmes. Even the very hopeful target of fibre million acres of productive woodland set back in 1943 for the year 2000 would only supply 15 per cent of the national need. As far as having wood available for a national crisis is concerned, what was a meaningful ambition just after the first world war is now quite inappropriate. And the Commission's case for forestry as land for recreation is dismissed as little better than public relations talk. Although sensitive landscaping and provision of camp sites exists most plantations are, the pamphlet claims, impossible to use either because they are young and vulnerable or too thick to walk in.
On a BBC-2 "Man Alive" programme last month Christopher Hall, secretary of the Ramblers, Association, challenged Lord Taylor of Gryfe, chairman of the Forestry commission, to encourage a Government enquiry. However, Lord Gryfe replied that the commission, like other public bodies, was answerable to the public through the normal Parliamentary channels and that was enough.
* Ramblers' Association, 15p
RIBA COUNCIL TO ADMIT PRESS
The RIBA Council has voted overwhelmingly for admission of the press to its meetings three dissenters being the only remaining opposition to a move that marks the RIBA apart from other professional institutions. The decision followed a proposal that only representatives of the Architectural Press be admitted but this vitas later widened to include other journalists in view of growing interest in the RIBA's affairs. "Space is the big restriction," says an RIBA spokesman, "although when regionalisation takes place there will be less than the present 72 Council members." The plan may be a first step towards the admission of ordinary members to council meetings. Coincidentally the first meeting to which press will be admitted is the 1 December referendum on increased fees (see overgraze).
RIBAFACES INCREASED FEES FIGHT
A referendum on the RIBA increased subscription proposals was sent out to all members of the institute last month. The RIBA council decided to organise a referendum after the bitter hostility aroused by its new scheme to abolish a flat rate contribution in favour of a graded contribution based on salary. The verdict of the RIBA membership will be made known at a special RIBA council meeting on 1 December. If the resolution is approved the new scheme - charging 0 8 per cent of a member's earnings - comes into operation on 1 January 1972.
If defeated and RIBA byelaws require a majority against of at least 6300 - the RIBA will be compelled (under another of its bye-laws) to rub along painfully for two full years before it is entitled to bring new subscription charges into force. This would lead to a deficit, on current spending, of œ150 000 by the end of 1973. Economies being gloomily discussed at Portland Place include pruning many of the "invisible" activities of the RIBA - such as competitions, professional services, and interprofessional training - shortening the hours of the library, and possibly, cutting back on the regional offices programme. In addition, a (100 000 maintenance programme on the institute headquarters will have to be postponed until more funds become available. The building was put up in the thirties, and now needs rewiring and extensive redecoration; as an economy measure, it would be allowed to grow "shabbieriand shabbier" said a sorrowful RIBA spokesman last month.
The RIBA's main fear, however, is that win or lose the referendum it will still be left in a sticky financial position. A large number of resignations from the institute (feared to be as much as 15 per cent of the membership) could cancel out the advantage of the subscription increase. The main opponents of salary graded subscriptions are the fixed salary architects who form nearly three quarters of the RIBA membership. "I would like to see more salaried architects on the Council," says Thomas Stanley, an architect with the East Anglian Hospital Board and an active opponent of increased subscriptions. "At present the institute is heavily weighted in favour of architects in private practice. I don't want to resign unless I have to, but all I get out of the RIBA is the letters after my name and a monthly magazine." A detailed questionnaire giving discontented members an opportunity to air their views on what the RIBA ought to be doing on behalf of its members will also be attached to the referendum. The results of this should be even more interesting than the results of the referendum itself, though it would seem that even the most vehement opponents of the RIBA are apathetic or unhelpful when it comes to suggesting what kind of services the RIBA should provide.
Toy safety - hospitals could help
"It is obvious that a sense of danger is a necessary part of every child's life," pointed out toy designer Audrey Stephenson at a press conference to launch The Design Centre's toy display last month. "Every mother who has watched her child in an adventure playground of any kind must have been worried about possible falls. But no child would dream of playing there if everything was so safe that there was no possible chance of a fall. Again, children are regularly injured when using such things as bicycles and roller skates through no fault in the design or manufacture of the toy itself."
One problem in assessing the degree of risk in the toys now on the market was highlighted at the same conference by Katharine Hartley secretary of the Committee for Children's Playthings. Calling for independent research into the safety of toys Mrs Hardey said that hospital records are virtually useless as they note only the type of injury, not the cause.
Annual sales of toys in Britain are now well in excess of œ100 millions in value, of which some two thirds are sold in the pre-Christmas shopping spree. But toys are not only big business: they are also an obvious target for everybody from child psychiatrists to the consumer protectors. As a result hardly a Christmas goes by without some newspaper scare about toys. 1971 has been no exception, with those two balls on a string cast as the villians. But "clackers" seem to have died away as rapidly as they appeared, although whether this was due to the adverse publicity or merely because children grew as tired of the noise as their parents is impossible to say.
The British toy industry - with exports running al nearly, £30 millions a year - has a good reputation both for imaginative design and for safety, and many of the toy safety scares are caused by imported toys. It would seem to be a sufficient safeguard for parents and others to buy toys made by reputable manufacturers and sold by reputable shops and, of course, to make sure that the toy is not too advanced for the child, as this too car lead to accidents.
CFF Grange consortium
The design partnership Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes and industrial designer Kenneth Grange have set up a new design consultancy to be known as Pentagram. The consortium will operate from new custom-designed offices overlooking a branch of the Grand Union canal at Paddington. Commenting on the aims of Pentagram, Colin Forbes, one of the senior partners, said that "the partners realised that a more formal structure and closer working relationship would enable them to offer a broadly based design service that would have a value to new and existing clients beyond what each could offer alone".
Kenneth Grange's association with CFF began about three years ago when the two firms were working on different aspects of design for Kodak. Several other joint works, like Roche Pharmaceuticals where Grange was concerned with packaging and CFF with graphics, and BP service stations have occurred since.
ICI start textile transfer service
ICI has announced a new service to the textile industry with the setting up of a subsidiary group,
ICI Inprints, offering transfer printing facilities - using dye transfers to colour synthetic fibre fabrics - a new design collection and an advisory bureau. Transfer printing is a simple dry operation in which the fabric to be treated is passed round a heated roller together with paper on which the multicoloured design is already printed. Operating temperature is 200øC and the time taken to transfer the dye is between 15 and 30 seconds. Dress lengths or garment pieces can be treated in a heated press instead of the rollers.
ICI Inprints already have a collection of designs for a wide variety of end uses and a company spokesman says that the collection win be regularly updated so the balance of the collection reflects market trends. Textile firms can buy designs from Inprint on a non-exclusive basis or at a small extra cost reserve a particularly colourway for their own use over a limited period. The new subsidiary can prepare transfer papers to customer's own designs in up to six colours and also intends to produce transfers to simulate piece-dyed effects.
CALL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL BALANCE SHEETS
Fred Pooley, Buckinghamshire county architect and planning officer, has suggested that local authorities should draw up an annual environmental balance sheet for public consumption, showing at a glance whether local community life was improving. Speaking at a conference of the National Housing and Town Planning Council held in Scarborough recently he said he found "that people are very cynical about planning and that a brief fan sheet like a bank statement showing figures like the number of trees felled and replaced and the acres of land given over to development might fill the credibility gap."
A more detailed breakdown would be even more value to the planning authority itself, says Pooley, and could show population and employment, pollution, land reclamation, the amount of landscaping and conservation, Pooley is particularly worried about cavalier attitudes to land utilisation and the destruction of the land pattern as we know it today. Motorway projects are in danger of cutting the countryside into little pieces, he said, and he foresaw when they would have to go underground.
Alick Smithers will be responsible for all visual aspects of Royal Doulton's promotion as new display manager for the tableware group.
Christopher Haines has been appointed managing director of Conran Associates, the new consultancy set up to provide design services over a broad field including Habitat stores, merchandise and displays. He also becomes a director of Habitat Designs Holdings.
Ernest Hoch has become an associate consultant with Negus & Negus and taken a post as reader in typography at Reading University.
Dr Seymour Gang, educationist and former research professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, has become academic vice president of New York's Pratt Institute.
D J Morantz has been appointed deputy principal and director of higher studies at the London College of Printing together with a new assistant principal and director of studies A D Roberts.
R A Fleming, former director of COI's exhibitions division, has been appointed acting controller (home) succeeding Donald Bickerton who has become COI director general.
John Dugdale is to chair Telford Development Corporation following the resignation of Sir Frank Price.
K C Smith has been appointed environmental applications manager in charge of a new British Oxygen Company department specialising in sewage treatment, fume control and effluent disposal.
D J Riordan and J S Stephenson join the Ryman board as assistant managing directors in charge of retailing and office environment respectively,
R D M Grant, new managing director of Van Heugten International, heads an organisation set up to handle British sales of Heuga carpet tiles.
A change of identity commutes the Conran Design Group to CDG the group now being responsible directly to the Burton Board. Ron Baker, John Bampton and Peter Crutch have been appointed to the CDG board and Richard Austin, Michael Howard, Dick Morgan, Jim Northover, Eric Thompson, Martin Warnes and Colin Wiltshire have become CDG associates.