BBC Great British Design Quest

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The Snap

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Hi guys,
The BBC has a poll on their homepage for the best ever British design.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/cultureshow/designquest

The description:
The Great British Design Quest is a vote to discover the public's favorite British design icon, organized by the Design Museum and The Culture Show. From an original shortlist of 25 design icons, we're down to a Top 3. Vote now for your favorite to win.
The London Underground map is in the final three, so I voted for it, as I think it is pre genius. What do you think?

Thanks,
 
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ChrisCooper

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Compared to pretty much all the other runners, the Underground Map has been coppied and imitated so many times, which surely shows how great a design it was. It's also great that out of all the runners it's one of the oldest, but is not only still in use, but new versions are being made all the time, and it doesn't seem at all dated. Also, unlike practically everything else on the list, it will probably still be in use in 100 years time and longer.
 

The Snap

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The Concorde was a revloution, but it wnet out of service. I don't think Beck's idea will ever fade out, do you? ;)
 

rbruce1314

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Concorde failed because the bean counters got their sums wrong.......and with the advances in electronics in 30 years there was no realistic chance of upgrading.

As to Beck's map - depends on what EXACTLY folks were voting for. As a concept it deserved every prize in the book, but the modifications in the last 70 years have been huge. What we have now is just right for 2006, but in many ways is nothing like the original map. Might have confused some of the voters
 

0118999

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Cockfosters said:
The results were announced yesterday, sadly Concorde won.
I think Concorde is a little more sophisiticated than a map ^o). That is gonna upset some people on here I know but, one hand you have a huge leap in technology, still unsuspassed and still hugely complicated, then on the other hand you have some ink on a sheet of paper. No contest chaps. The map is good, but someone else would have thought of it and done it sooner or later, logic dictated that.

rbruce1314 said:
Concorde failed because the bean counters got their sums wrong.......and with the advances in electronics in 30 years there was no realistic chance of upgrading.
Concorde's problem was never it's electronics or avionics, she still got around in modern airspace as well as she did in the 70s. Concorde's problem was fuel efficiency. They designed an aircraft to meet priorities of the past, priorities that had changed. Their was no realistic chance of upgrading, but not because of computers. It was because of the small number of units involved for new engines, which is what she really needed. No one was going to spend billions of pounds developing an engine for potential global sales of around 50 units - that would be crazy.

Concorde was ultimately a victim of a changing world, however she is still a technical masterpiece and something we can all be proud of.
 
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Tom

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I think one of the points of the map is that it isn't just ink on paper. It's something which is used worldwide, used by almost all metro systems. In fact, it probably is used by all. It's used by many different types of networks, it's the diagrammatical map, and you can't fault that.
 

Guinness

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tubechallenger said:
I think one of the points of the map is that it isn't just ink on paper. It's something which is used worldwide, used by almost all metro systems. In fact, it probably is used by all. It's used by many different types of networks, it's the diagrammatical map, and you can't fault that.
I don't think he is faulting the map just pointing out that Concorde involves a lot more work and is a lot more complex than coming up with a revolutionary mapping system for a Underground Train network. ;)
 

0118999

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Chaz said:
I don't think he is faulting the map just pointing out that Concorde involves a lot more work and is a lot more complex than coming up with a revolutionary mapping system for a Underground Train network. ;)
Took the words right from my mouth. I'm not saying that I don't think the London Underground map is good, I'm saying I think Concorde is more of an achievement.

The map may still be in use but it's not a machine, it's a concept, an idea, a way of doing something. Plus it's been continually updated and improved. The fact the London Underground map is the work of only one man (mainly) and Concorde is the work of two countries speaks volumes.
 

0118999

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It's still British, just not entirely. And the engine is almost 100% British, and without them the plane is more of a fancy expensive glider. The jet engine should have made it in my opinion, we invented it and it's changed the world more than just about anything else in that survey. Ah well...
 

yorkie

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I think it is a ridiculous comparison!

It's crazy that we're in the situation of having such a bizarre debate, but we are so here goes...

ckyliu said:
I think Concorde is a little more sophisiticated than a map ^o). That is gonna upset some people on here I know but, one hand you have a huge leap in technology, still unsuspassed and still hugely complicated, then on the other hand you have some ink on a sheet of paper. No contest chaps. The map is good, but someone else would have thought of it and done it sooner or later, logic dictated that..
Yes point taken but it was "greatest" not "most complex", I guess it depends how you define great. ;)

I'd rather be remembered for the rest of history as the designer of a map which went on to be used worldwide for ever (probably!), than one of the designers of a failed aircraft that was only used by a very select few at enormous cost, very inefficiently and causing massive pollution along the way, but that's just me ;)

Anyway let's get a comparison with a map out of the way as it's crazy... ;) I think something like the IC125 is far, far more important and "great" than Concorde ever was. IC125 was (and still is) used by many, many more times the number who used Concorde, it was used by the masses and revitalised the railways at a crucial time. Also Concorde consumed a criminally high budget, while IC125's design was far more efficient.

I can understand why people admire Concorde for it's power and all that, from an air enthusiast perspective (though I am not one, but I can understand why people are), but it's actual usefulness surely has to have serious doubt.
 

Guinness

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Let's say you said "Concorde" to an American, Canadian or whoever, there is more of a chance of them actually realising what you mean as opposed to you saying your example, an IC125. That's my brief understanding of the poll conducted by the BBC.
 

0118999

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I think something that is "complex" and harder to achieve is a far greater "achivement" than something easy to do. I would say it is far "greater" to have pulled together thousands of people and built a totally unique and unmatched technological masterpiece against all the odds with limited technology, rather than one bloke drawing some lines on a piece of paper.

Concorde is exceptionally useful too. I don't know if you've ever heard of Airbus (they turn over about 19.8 billion quid a year, so not a lot) but much of their success can be attributed to Concorde. You see whilst Concorde itself may not have made any money, Airbus (which used much Concorde technology) does. Concorde made many innovations that we see on many aircraft today (fly-by-wire, thrust-by-wire, high pressure hydraulics, full-regime autopilot with autothrottle etc), even in our own lives in fact. ABS... you can thank Concorde for that.

Furthermore Concorde is not inefficient. Inefficient by subsonic standards perhaps but by supersonic standards she is something of a bulimic, even for today. It dosen't pollute either - it actually rebuilds the Ozone layer (although insignificantly

Now in the comparison to the arguably mighty HST, I still think Concorde is the "greater" design. The HST used existing technology and did things that were already been done, albeit not in this country. Concorde was a far greater step in technology and departure from existising designs than the HST ever was - hence a far larger budget requirement.

The HST raised speeds from 100mph to 125mph, Concorde raised speeds from 650mph to 1350mph, quite a contrast. It increased cruise altitudes from 40,000 to 60,000 feet in a stroke as well. Concorde was a step in to the unknown, the HST was simply refining of existing technologies.

The HST used updated carriage design (Mk2 to Mk3) and used two power cars instead of a single locomotive, increasing British speeds to 125mph - something other countries had already achieved. Concorde scrapped conventional aircraft design altogether, with an entirely new wing shape and new engine design, new systems, new technlogies and new ways of solving old problems. It doubled previously accepted limits across the globe in a single stroke.

And what about the icon that is Concorde? As Chaz said, Concorde is recognised globally and is symbol of our nation - can you say that about the HST? Do the majority of British people even know what a HST is or what is special about it? I think not... You ask the same about Concorde and you will get those answers. Perhaps that is what makes a truly great design, one that is iconic and is remembered - the panama canal, the dyson vacuum cleaner, the telephone, the electric light bulb etc, and of course, Concorde.
 
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Tom

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ckyliu said:
It's still British, just not entirely. And the engine is almost 100% British, and without them the plane is more of a fancy expensive glider. The jet engine should have made it in my opinion, we invented it and it's changed the world more than just about anything else in that survey. Ah well...
I would actually say the diagrammatic map has changed the world more than a jet engine. If we didn't have diagrammatic maps, we would have mass confusion of foreign visitors visiting rail networks / metros, etc.
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ckyliu said:
And what about the icon that is Concorde? As Chaz said, Concorde is recognised globally and is symbol of our nation - can you say that about the HST? Do the majority of British people even know what a HST is or what is special about it?
I can quite safely say yes to your question. Say Intercity 125, and almost every person knows what you're on about. They know what's special about it too, it was the first intercity high speed train to run at 125mph in the UK. It was a GREAT BRITISH design quest, surely it should have inventions with only Britain involved?
 

Guinness

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tubechallenger said:
I would actually say the diagrammatic map has changed the world more than a jet engine. If we didn't have diagrammatic maps, we would have mass confusion of foreign visitors visiting rail networks / metros, etc.
Without the Jet Engine those foreign visitors couldn't visit London. ;)

I can quite safely say yes to your question. Say Intercity 125, and almost every person knows what you're on about. They know what's special about it too, it was the first intercity high speed train to run at 125mph in the UK. It was a GREAT BRITISH design quest, surely it should have inventions with only Britain involved?
I've just asked it to my parents downstairs neither knew what it was. Ironically my dad thought it was an airline. I'll have to ask more people! ;)
 

0118999

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tubechallenger said:
I would actually say the diagrammatic map has changed the world more than a jet engine. If we didn't have diagrammatic maps, we would have mass confusion of foreign visitors visiting rail networks / metros, etc.
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Diagrammatic maps have been around for years - just some bloke decided to use it for a metro train network rather than electrical circuits... it's no big deal and someone would have come up with it sooner or later, it's a logical choice.

As for the jet engine, well, I think its made made far more of an impact. You know those foriegn visitors, well as Chaz said, the majority come by jet powered aircraft. Had it not been for the jet engine then the only way to fly around would be with piston aircraft which would take 4x as long to travel the same distance and on which a ticket would cost you more than Concorde per mile - think what that would do to tourism. Think what it would mean for your holidays... you're not gonna get much further than Italy by road and by sea it still takes weeks to reach the USA from here - plus it's a lot pricier.

Furthermore it would cause a collapse of the global economy today as you know it (something a missing tube map or non-existant HST wouldn't going to cause). Without the jet engine long-distance logistics would be a nightmare and be frightfully expensive, with most items coming by ship (and come to think of it, most people too), not to mention how much slower it would be.

Not only that, the global airline industry would be tiny compared to what it is and all those jobs in the aerospace industry would disappear.

It would also jepordise national defence as the jet engine is in almost all combat aircraft these days, not to mention many cruise missiles and even ships. Without them we would not be as capable at defending ourselves.

Gas turbines also suppy power in many other applications, not just aircraft. They are extensively used in maritime applications and power generation. Blips in electricity demand are often covered by turboshaft engines and on many ships they provide some, if not all of the power.

You can't even begin to imagine the world without the jet engine. It has brought us closer to the world, and the world closer to us. Global business, economics, politics and trade would not be possible without it.

Next time you fly somewhere, you have some parcel shipped from aboard or see tourists/friends/family from abroad, spare a thought for the great man himself - Sir Frank Whittle.
 
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