Buildings and their Services

What is is about building services that we just cannot get them right? No matter how many times we design homes, apartment buildings, churches, office buildings, no matter how much care is lavished on the design of ducts, pipes, risers, laterals and entry points, as soon as the building is completed, along comes some ‘jobsworth’ and fixes a dish/aerial/conduit/meter/sign/pipe to it in defiance of taste or design. I am not seeking perfection, a perfectly ordered environment where everything is rectilinear and clean, where sunlight reflects from polished surfaces and all of life is hidden behind granite and glass. I am asking for the vandalism to be kept under control. If an unemployed youth drilled a hole in a facade and put a pipe through it and sealed it with expanding foam that dribbled down the front of the building, we would arrest him for criminal damage, if a heating engineer does it we shrug and say ‘it couldn’t be helped’.


Building and facility maintenance teams must shoulder responsibility for some of the damage, as they are the ones who either cannot be bothered to implement contractual agreements they have with their maintenance supply chain, or don’t even set up agreements in the first place that sets out what maintenance contractors can and cannot do.

Landlords should take this issue more seriously as this type of clutter devalues their asset and makes us all poorer. There is little excuse for housing estate managers allowing this dish rash. Cable providers have covered most of London and even unusual stations from abroad can be piped to most dwellings. The continuing drive towards faster broadband and fibre to the door should mean that most of these will become unnecessary in time. Will anyone come and take them away when they are obsolete. Not unless the metals they contain are valuable enough.

Gas-pipes This image demonstrates the folly of designing in a servicing strategy when the building is constructed that leaves no room for additional services. Or it could be an example of a gas engineer who insists on the supply pipework being ‘ventilated’. With the price of steel and copper rising, I wouldn’t bet on these being still there in a few years time.






I could go on.

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