LEAF London 2008 kicked off on Tuesday night with a rousing speech from Design for London’s urban design manager Mark Brearley about the architectural renaissance shaping London’s future.

The beginning of the three-day event, held at London’s Royal Horticultural Halls, brought together some of the leading lights in architecture.

Events opened with a panel discussion that included RIBA president Sunand Prasad, Ken Shuttleworth, a founding partner of Make Architects, and Jonathan Fenton-Jones, global procurement and sustainability director of Gazeley Limited.

The main focus was on how practices can establish their own “eco-template” and what Prasad described as a “clear connection between offsite and sustainability”.

Chairman of Carey Jones Architects and president of the British Council for Offices, Gordon Carey, highlighted the misconceptions architects and even clients have about offsite construction and how this needs to be addressed.

Ken Shuttleworth brought his experience working on high-profile projects such as the HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong and London’s Swiss Re tower, aka ‘The Gherkin’, to champion offsite’s “meccano-style” advantages.

Shuttelworth also tantalisingly predicted a future where buildings will not be demolished at the end of their lives but become “kits and bits that can be used over and over again”.


The late morning saw two presentations: one on schools, led by Alan Jones from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and the other on healthcare, led by Paul Jackson, strategic business director at NG Bailey.

Bernard Williams and Alistair Gibb, professor of construction engineering management, Department of Civil Engineering, Loughborough University, followed this with an examination of the offsite market.

Williams presented sobering research that identified the UK and Ireland as two of Europe’s least efficient construction markets when compared to Belgium and Norway, where offsite formed a significantly larger share of the market.

Williams also highlighted offsite’s potential to provide more highly skilled personnel to produce better end products in a healthier, efficient market.


After lunch, there was a case study looking at building a GlaxoSmithKline facility model by Nigel Barnes, VP global project management, and supported by Martin Wood and Frank McLeod of Bryden Wood McLeod Integrated Design and Engineering.

The discussion centred on why clients are demanding this form of architecture and the advantages of adopting OSC/MMC methods and the long-term implications this will have on business.

Stephen Taylor, principal specialist inspector from the construction division technology unit at the Health and Safety Executive, gave a sobering presentation on ‘Reducing the Risk Factor’.

Taylor examined what CDM implications and new legislation means for architects, health and safety within OSC and how MMC mitigates risk.


In anticipation of today’s exclusive visit to Heathrow Terminal 5, Anna Winstanley, director of strategic design, Laing O’Rourke, gave a fascinating presentation on ‘Design for Manufacturing and Assembly for airport buildings’.

Points of interest included looking at designing for predictability of time and cost.


The day ended with a lively panel discussion on ’21st Century Solutions for the Home of the Future’ led by Darren Burford, vice president, KNX, sponsored by Siemens.

The discussion looked particularly at the need for innovation and technical solutions to create a zero-carbon homes.

Delegates then relaxed with a champagne reception followed by dinner at the Louise T Blouin Institute.

The event brings together leading architects from around the world, and is organised by designbuild-network.com’s sister publication, The LEAF Review.

Brearley will talk on London’s strategic areas of architectural change from public space to the Thames Gateway area of east London.

The three-day show will also look at carbon neutral buildings and eco-design with Prasad and Shuttleworth.

By staff writer