Making PoliNations sustainable with Carl Robertshaw
Carl Robertshaw, Lead Designer
Tell us a bit about your role in PoliNations.
I'm responsible for all elements of design from costumes and props to the large architectural trees and iconic plant sculptures alongside a team of architects, designers and costume designers.
How does sustainability fit into your role?
It comes into the thinking about the types of materials - how far have they travelled? How much do they weigh? As well as the design and legacy of anything we create.
What has been the biggest sustainability related surprise for you since starting on PoliNations?
Installing solar and wind power on the site would be more costly to the environment than using power coming into the site that is already green. [Birmingham City Council have 100% renewable electricity!]
What has been the most challenging aspect of trying to be sustainable?
We've had to adapt our design to be more sustainable but I think of this quite philosophically - any adaptations are generally going to make the project better and are a natural part of the process for a designer.
What advice would you give to other members of your profession who also want to put sustainability at the heart of what they do?
Design out non-sustainable aspects of your project. Think about how far things travel, resources that are used to make them, being conscious about single use - what can we reuse things for? Be creative with what you already have. Us designers can help figure out new ways of using things in an artistically attractive way. Things don't have to be heavy (!) and they can be implied, not literal. Keep these things in a corner of your working mind so that you are constantly interrogating what you're doing so that it leads to a more sustainable result.
What sustainability initiative are you most excited about for PoliNations?
The rainwater capture from the large architectural tree sculptures. Each tree can capture up to half a cubic meter of rain which will be used to water the plants onsite.
When I need a boost, where can I get inspired about sustainability?
David Attenborough's TV series’ e.g. The Private Life of Plants.
If you had a sustainable super power what would it be?
I'm really into things that fly and fluid- and aero- dynamics so I'd love to be able to fly without such a high environmental cost and have that amazing privilege of being held up by the air.