Notes from the Green Party MEP for East of England. Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

No controls

Another post on the same kind of theme as the last one. After finding that the lights are not subject to human control in the Bodleian Library, I went to St Anne's College (Oxford) to hold a conference in their smart new building by the front gate. All very swish and the rooms were beautifully equipped for the kind of meeting we were having. But the windows were all sealed, and there appeared to be no air conditioning. When we asked if we could adjust the heat and get some fresh air, we were told that there was no way to adjust the heat or fresh air in the room, apart from opening the two doors marked fire exit (which open onto the garden). Well, fortunately it turned out these were not alarmed, and they could indeed be opened, which we did. But the choice was masses of fresh air from an open door, or two open doors, or none at all. And is it really best to heat the room and then cool it by opening the door? And ought it not to have a supply of fresh air anyway when there are a whole lot of breathing bodies in it? Why was it made with no controls and no air vents at the windows?
It was also impossible to raise the slatted blinds (though you could adjust the angle of the slats). My impression is that they don't want anyone to have any control over anything lest they do it wrong. No one should be permitted to make themselves comfortable. There is one compulsory condition of artificial light, no daylight and no fresh air. If that's not how you like it, don't live in the "state of the art" buildings we build today in this country.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Excessive lighting

The main reading rooms of the old Bodleian Library in Oxford were designed in 1610, and completed around 1624. They have wonderful large windows to let in the daylight so that one can read in comfort. The library had no artificial lighting until 1929, so it used to close at 3 pm in the winter.
I assume therefore that they put in the artificial lighting in order to enable readers to continue their work after dusk. That is, after all, the only time when it is too dark to read by natural light, aside from a few very wet and stormy winter days when the sun scarcely rises and you wouldn't notice if it had.
When I was in Oxford earlier in my career the lights were not normally on. They were also quite gentle. Now they are painfully and glaringly bright, and on all the time. I asked today if they could be turned off, since it is a lovely bright day and there is no shortage of light from the windows. "No" is the answer. They are on a time switch and cannot be turned on or off manually. So we have to suffer aching eyes and glare on the computer screen, and we have to burn electricity unnecessarily all day, for the advantage of whom, exactly?
"They will dim automatically as the brightness increases" she said. Well, you could have fooled me. It doesn't get much brighter than this, and the lights are as bright as any I've ever seen.
What a crazy modern world we live in. Who is in control? Not those whose needs are apparently supposed to be being met.
(By the way it is also too hot. Looking at the room, I would say that they have put in a false ceiling to make the room less high, so that we all breathe each other's stale breath instead of passing it into a good refreshing space above. Another folly of modern design, perhaps for another post).