Monday, 24 September 2012

Zone 0 Mapping with Floorplanner

I wanted to use our place as part of a design exercise on a session on retrofitting, which pushed me into creating some plans of the house at last. These are rough and ready and not totally to scale - this is more of a field map. I'm creating a fake estate agents document, so I wanted something that looks like it came from such a source.

I made these floor plans using the free ("Basic") version of Floorplanner ( which seems to offer an immediacy that SketchUp didn't. At some point I should probably get to grips with SketchUp, but it doesn't seem particularly pressing at the moment.

The floorplans were exported as jpegs (the free version of Floorplanner only allows low res exports) and edited using Photoshop (although a  freeware image editor like Gimp would've worked just as well).

I've been trying to get it to do the garden too, but the export options in the basic version restrict the size too much to be useful:
 You can do slightly better be exporting the plan as an A3 pdf, then cropping out the image as below:

Thursday, 20 September 2012

History, memory and green imaginaries

On 30th November I'll be participating in the symposium 'History, memory and green imaginaries' at the University of Brighton's Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories. Below is the abstract for the short talk I'll be giving based on my Reels of Resilience work, after which I'll be taking part in a  round-table discussion and Q&A alongside Dr Rebecca Bramall, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at University of Brighton, Tim Cooper, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Exeter and Victoria Johnson, Head of Climate Change and Energy at the New Economic Foundation (nef).

I was invited to attend by Rebecca Bramall who was interested in the dual worlds I inhabited as a film curator and a permaculture educator, so this should prove a good opportunity to present some design thinking.

‘Re-member, Re-vision and Re-claim – Using archival film to facilitate local conversations about community resilience’ 


British non-fiction films of the first half of the 20th century display an apparently different country, one that is localised, less atomised, and more self-reliant. Propaganda films of the 1930s to 1950s, in particular, celebrate community and local resilience in a manner that appeals to the similar concerns of current social activists. What purpose might they serve now in kindling re-generative human habitats.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Design: ALP Stage 2

I have been exploring some different ways of presenting the Action Learning Pathway for my Permaculture Diploma and also looking for tools to help me structure it most effectively. I was quite taken with the idea of considering the Diploma as a 'project' and using a Gantt chart to serve both the purposes described above.

I don't have any background in producing/using Gantt charts, just a basic concept of their operation, so this is experimentation with the form. I'm planning that learning how to use one for this purpose, will support me in using them on other projects in the future.

I plumped for using the open-source freeware programme GanttProject 2.5.5 (available for Windows/Mac OSX and Linux). There are some video tutorials on how to use it:

I'm not sure if it's going to completely suit my purposes, but if nothing else it has introduced me to the concept of the PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) chart. I think I encountered this idea before, while doing (the largely useless( APM Certificate in Project Management, but it wasn't described as a PERT chart then. I used GanttProject's inbuilt functionality to turn my ALP Gantt into a PERT, the end result looked a bit skewy - so I messed about with it to create the top graphic - which felt like the first tolerable output of the whole process, but has probably totally messed up the standard PERT infographic. Also, I don't understand the different colours in the diagram, I think they must relate to something I did at the input stage.

I obviously need to get to grips with Gantts, PERTs and GanttProject a bit more to realise their potential - but my main learning from this process has been that using these tools is over-engineering and over-complicating the task I need to achieve right now. As a personal project, the Diploma does not have the range of other players a large project might have & I should be able to come up with a reasonable timetable without going to the lengths of a Gantt project schedule.