Consultation on the Plans for the former Civic Centre Site.

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Coventry University’s Master Planning consultants, Turnberry, are holding a public exhibition of the University’s plans for the former Civic Centre site (opposite the Council House). This will take place on Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th January 2020 in the covered court of the Herbert Gallery. The exhibition will be open from 15:00 – 18:30 on each day. The project team will be on hand to answer questions and to record your feedback.

The plans include new academic and social facilities, including a new auditorium, alongside residential accommodation for visiting lecturers and researchers.



Building with Hemp


Hemp has a very long association with human history. It was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fibre some 10,000 years ago. Hemp is used to make a variety of things, including rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation and biofuel. Also if you mix shredded hemp, with sand and lime it can be used as a material for construction and insulation. Called Hempcrete or Hemplime it is a bio-composite material. A mixture of Hempcrete is easier to work with than traditional lime mixes and it lacks the brittleness of concrete and consequently does not need expansion joints. The result is a lightweight insulating material ideal for most climates as it combines insulation and thermal mass.

Hempcrete has been used in France since the early 1990s to construct non-weight bearing insulating infill walls. Hempcrete does not have the requisite strength for load bearing construction, but with a framework of another material that supports the vertical load it can be used for internal walls. Hempcrete walls are fireproof, transmit humidity, resist mould, and have excellent acoustic performance.

In the UK a new show house has been built to show off the capabilities of hemp. Called ‘Flat House’ it is located on Margent Farm, a 53-acre farming facility in rural Cambridgeshire. Practice Architecture worked alongside hemp farmers to erect this zero carbon home, from pre-fabricated panels in just two days.


Practice Architecture additionally saw the project as a chance to trial using hemp and pre-fabricated building techniques on a large scale. “We have been working with hemp for a while but this is the first project where we have designed and employed a pre-fabricated panel system,”

“Developing an offsite system allowed us to build efficiently, at speed and to build through the colder months of the year – something that can be difficult with standard hemp construction.”


Working off-site with engineers and material specialists, the studio developed large panels made from hempcrete. These were then transported back to the farm and, over the course of just two days, erected to form the structural shell of Flat House. The property was constructed over the footprint of a pre-existing barn.

The project also saw Practice Architecture and Margent Farm develop hemp-fibre tiles, which have been used to clad the house’s external facade. Each tile is bound with sugar-based resin sourced from agricultural waste. “The materials are breathable meaning they regulate the moisture in the air, resisting damp and mould and leading to a healthier environment and air quality.”


A growing number of architects and designers are experimenting with hempcrete in the light of the current climate crisis.

Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp both derive from the species Cannabis sativa, Hemp has lower concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The legality of industrial hemp varies widely between countries. Some governments regulate the concentration of THC and permit only hemp that is bred with an especially low THC content.

There is more about the Flat House here.

100 Years of the Bauhaus

Our Chairman, Paul Maddocks, reflects on a century of the Bauhaus.


“As the centenary of the founding of Bauhaus comes to an end, it may be worth looking at what influences it had on all aspects of design today from architecture to furniture.

“When I was at art school in 1969 we had a slide show and we were all given a presentation from a visiting lecturer. He was one of the students that was taught at the Bauhaus School, sadly I do not remember his name. It was to celebrate Bauhaus 50th birthday, I had not heard of this school before or what they did, but I did recognised some of the designs that had come out of its creative process.

“Bauhaus was a school for modernism. It ran from 1919 to 1933. Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, in 1919, as a new kind of art school based around a holistic approach to the creative disciplines. The German term Bauhaus—literally “building house”—was understood as meaning “School of Building”, but in spite of its name and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus did not initially have an architecture department.

“The objective was the creation of a ‘total work of art’ in which buildings and everything in them were designed as a whole entity. The Bauhaus promoted a unified vision for the arts that made no distinction between form and function, and therefore Gropius wanted the school’s architecture to reflect these values. Bauhaus style, also known as the International Style, it was marked by the absence of ornamentation and by harmony between the function of an object or a building and its design.

“In 1925 to 1932 Bauhaus moved to Dessau and Walter Gropius designed the school to reflect the Bauhaus values.


“The Bauhaus Dessau’s most striking features are its glass curtain walls, which wrap around corners and provide views of the building’s interiors, and its supporting structure.

“It is worth looking up Bauhaus and its interesting history, its influences it has had on today’s design in furniture and buildings.”


A photograph of the Wassily Chair, it is one of the most famous pieces of furniture connected to the Bauhaus. Designed by Marcel Breuer, the iconic tubular steel chair was inspired by bicycle frames and made with the latest in steel-bending technology at the time. It is named after Bauhaus master Wassily Kandinsky, and close friend of Klee, who praised the piece.


A photograph of the famous cradle which is a combination of geometric shapes and primary colours by Peter Keller. A student at the Bauhaus between 1921 and 1925, Peter Keller was a versatile designer, artist and architect. While at the school in 1923 he designed a baby cradle for the first Bauhaus exhibition in the Haus am Horn in Weimar.  Peter was influenced by artist Wassily Kandinsky, who was a master at the school.

Ancient Amarna and Post-War Coventry


For the second meeting of CovSoc’s 50th Anniversary Year, we have a talk about the links between Coventry Precinct and the ancient city of Amarna.

Roger Bailey, a Blue Badge Tourist Guide and city councillor, has been researching the fascinating history of the links between the rebuilt Coventry and the ancient Egyptian city.

Roger will explain how it is that the symbol of Aten became incorporated into the memorials to the rebuilding of the city in 1948. Coventry was rebuilt after the Second World War by Donald Gibson, who like many of his profession, was seemingly inspired by Amarna in the 1930s.

In 1948 the foundation stone for Broadgate House was laid, and a single tall, slender column put in place, using scarce materials which a member of the architect’s department was obliged to acquire on the black market. A stone placed on the north face of the column was carved with an inscription recording the role of Princess Elizabeth in the ceremony.

On the south side the young Coventry letter-carver and sculptor John Skelton carved emblems of the city’s weaving industries: scissors, a teasel, a cap and a loom. At the base of the same column another emblem refers to a system of belief which had a simultaneously private and a public dimension.

Gibson asked Skelton to carve there the symbol of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhnaton, who had become something of a cult figure after archaeological excavations resumed at Tell el Amarna in the inter-war period. During the 1920s, Tell el Amarna came to be viewed in terms of a lost utopia, an ideal city dedicated to the worship of the sun. It was described and depicted in terms of a prototype of the garden city, with extensive housing quarters and broad, well-planted avenues.

This meeting is being held in a different venue and on a different day to our normal monthly meetings, to allow people to attend who might not otherwise be able to.

The meeting is being held on Tuesday 21st January 2020 in Committee Room 3 in the Council House at 7.30 p.m. Ticket numbers are strictly limited to 40 so please book your seat via our Eventbrite Page. Attendance is free for members and we ask for a donation of £2 from visitors and guests towards the cost of refreshments.

Artist drawing from archaeological digs of the ruined ancient city of Tell el-Amama, also spelled Tall al-Amarna or Tall al-ʿAmarīnah

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The Future of Housing?

3D printed house in Tabasco, Mexico

A pair of 3D-printed homes were built in 24 hours by the ‘world’s first 3D-printed community. A team of designers and philanthropists constructed two 3D-printed homes in 24 hours.

The printing process is relatively simple: The printer churns out layers of cement, which amass to form the walls of the home.

The company’s cement mixture is stronger than traditional building materials, so it can withstand extreme weather conditions.

3D printer in operation.

Non-printed fixtures like doors and windows are installed at the end of the process.

The homes are part of a planned community for low-income residents in Tabasco, Mexico. Residents of the 3D-printed homes will be required to pay a mortgage of 400 pesos (about $20) per month for seven years.

In a rainy, rural site in the Mexican state of Tabasco, a pair of 3D-printed homes represent a milestone: They’re the initial two structures in a community that aims to be the world’s first 3D-printed housing development.

This month, a team of designers and philanthropists unveiled the houses, which are part of a planned 50-home neighbourhood for low-income families.

Inside a 3D printed house

It’s the result of a collaboration between New Story, a San Francisco-based housing non-profit, and Icon, a construction-technology company that designs 3D printers.

At 500 square feet each, the homes take just 24 hours to print. The new homes come with two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom.

However the remaining 48 houses will not be built using this technique. Instead they will use a material called Eco-Block: a type of brick made from organic waste that’s stronger than traditional concrete and produces fewer carbon emissions. The non-profit will then compare whether Eco-Block or 3D printing holds up better over time.


This article was extracted from Yahoo News.

Wales Comes to St. John’s

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12th January marks the New Year in the Julian calendar, and this date is still celebrated in some parts of Wales.

Our friends at St John the Baptist Church, Fleet Street, are hosting a musical celebration that evening of Hen Galan, the Old New Year, with Traditional and modern folk songs and tunes from folk band Greengrass and Plygain from Welsh choir Cor Cymraeg.

Cor Cymraeg.

Sunday 12 January at 7.00 pm. Free entry (donations)

All Welcome! Croeso i bawb!

Refreshments will be served at the back of Church. More info on 02476 711687.

Archaeological Finds at Baginton


Nigel Page from Warwickshire Archaeology will be giving a talk to the Coventry Society on Monday 13th January at 7.30pm at the Shopfront Theatre, City Arcade.

The talk will focus on the Anglo-Saxon Archaeological finds at Baginton, adjacent to the Lunt Roman Fort. The dig was completed before the building work on the new Jaguar Land Rover site started.

Nigel is a Senior archaeologist with Warwickshire Archaeology, which is part of Warwickshire County Council.

Earlier evaluation of the site by Oxford Archaeology in 2012 had identified a few features of interest and, perhaps most importantly, a cremation cemetery. It was thought likely that this was associated directly with the Roman fort or the local Anglo-Saxon neighbourhood or settlement.

The site proved to be a very large archaeology dig site and the underlying geology consisted mostly of sand which is easy to dig, even without modern tools. The cremation cemetery contained over sixty burials. Items within burials included numerous complete pots, two mirrors, two glass bottles, brooches, the odd coin (one definitely of Vespasian), pins, a ring with an intaglio and the remains of at least two copper bound boxes plus a copper alloy hanging bowl. The star feature consisted of a large pit with 23 near complete pots and an oil lamp.

Archaeologists believe two of the graves contained a “high status” ranking officer and Roman girl, aged between six and 12.

We look forward to Nigel Page telling us all about all these exciting finds.

You will have time to ask questions about the dig, the future of the finds and where the Section 106 money from JLR will be spent, as well as the future developments at the Lunt Roman Fort.

The meeting is on Monday 13th January at 7.30pm at the Shopfront Theatre, 38 City Arcade. CovSoc meetings are free for members. Guests are invited to make a contribution of £2 towards refreshments and meeting costs.

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