Grand Designs Live paves the way towards zero-carbon living & celebrates the architects of the future

by Francesca

From 29th April to 7th May over 71,000 visitors attended Grand Designs Live at London’s ExCeL, enjoying hundreds of carefully curated brands, innovative cost and energy saving solutions, and a myriad of informative and educational talks. Over the 9-day show, over 1,500 sessions of free expert advice were held across Ask an Expert and the Green Living Advice Zone powered by OVO Energy highlighting solutions for zero-carbon living.

Grand Designs Live has always had innovation, environmental, and sustainable development at its heart, and Kevin McCloud said;

“Fifteen years ago, at this very show, we started talking about Heat Pumps as the exciting new thing, like mythical tech. Today we’ve got the major brands here selling them, government grants for installations, and bags of advice in our live expert advice centres on how to choose and use a Heat Pump in the home. Who knows what the next 15 years will bring, Green Tech is an evolving and fascinating area and we’re already giving young graduates the opportunity to showcase extraordinary ecological and low-carbon ideas through supporting GREEN GRADS. I find it exciting and energising to be involved with the forefront of change.”

In the Green Living Advice Zone powered by OVO Energy the most asked questions revolved around solar panels and heat pumps.

Giving an insight into the priorities of visitors to Grand Designs Live Mat Moakes, Chief Commercial Officer, OVO commented;

“It’s been an exciting week speaking to people in the Green Living Advice Zone, helping to answer questions and give advice on decarbonising the home – on everything from solar panels to heat pumps. Visitors were keen to understand the process for setting up EV chargers at rental properties, how much they might need to pay for solar panels and – the most important one – where to start in their zero-carbon living journey.”

There were daily talks across three stages, Grand Designs Magazine Theatre, Interiors Stage and the Sustainable Future Theatre powered by OVO Energy, featuring an extensive variety of experts and personalities including Kevin McCloud, Max McMurdo, Oliver Heath and Kunle Barker throughout the nine-day event covering issues and topics including sustainability, restoration, renovation, upcycling, recycling, energy and money-saving advice, decarbonising, interior design, self-building for less, and much more.

This edition of Grand Designs Live also had a substantial focus on ‘green’ brands, technology and development, with the return of GREEN GRADS, showcasing 24 recent graduates who have developed products and brands that are actively eco-conscious, ranging from upcycled furniture from waste to sustainable biomaterials, to a heated blanket that runs off a solar panel, and beyond. Also on show was Kevin’s Green Heroes; handpicked by Kevin McCloud, to showcase the finest, revolutionary sustainable innovations; including GULP, the sustainable, long-lasting washing machine filter that captures microplastics from every laundry cycle.

The Sustainable Future Theatre powered by OVO Energy hosted a number of exciting and informative talks throughout the show, including a panel session with Kevin McCloud, Mat Moakes, Chief Commercial Officer at OVO and Brian Horne, Technical Knowledge Lead for the Energy Saving Trust, where ‘Zero Carbon’ was up for debate. Deep discussion on how, and if we can get to zero carbon ensued, with everything from Heat Pumps to ‘Green-washing’ debated.

Richard Morey, Director of Media 10 comments;

“As a nation we’ve all become more engaged in how we can ‘go green’, not just because we’ve had to with the cost-of-living crisis, but because we’re more aware of how our home and energy use can impact not only cost but ultimately our carbon footprint and the climate. This awareness is key to reaching our carbon reduction goals, and we hope that Green Living Live and our green-centred discussions throughout Grand Designs Live can make a difference to visitors.”

Free consumer advice from experts has always been at the heart of Grand Designs Live and this year the show featured two areas for visitors to get that essential information; the Ask an Expert area featured experts from a range of fields including architects, interior designers, landscape gardeners, and planning experts.

Official Ask The Experts partner Dara Chen, Founder & CEO at HiiGuru says;

“Making design and build expertise accessible to all has been my mission since the founding of HiiGuru. Due to a successful show last year, and the clear alignment of our missions, we were excited to elevate our partnership this year with Grand Designs Live. As the official expert partner, we have had experts across the full ecosystem of design and build available daily at Ask an Expert. We held our inaugural Designathon where visitors could watch our interior designers transform visitors’ spaces through creating 3D renderings, live, at our stand. We are thrilled with the results of all the effort we put into making this a successful show. We have received tons of on-the-spot bookings and expect more to come after the show. But more than that, we are absolutely thrilled that the visitors see the value in our innovative platform and that we’ll be able to support them throughout their home renovation and build journeys.”

This year, to celebrate the architects of the future, Grand Designs Live and Kevin McCloud tasked pupils in Year 7 at Prendergast Ladywell School in Lewisham with becoming ‘Mini Grand Designers’ by designing houses that they would love to live in, including elements of recycled materials.

The 9 shortlisted entries have been displayed at Grand Designs Live with the Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice winners announced on Saturday 6th May on the Grand Designs Magazine Theatre at London’s ExCeL. The judges for the competition included design guru Kevin McCloud, Matthew Freeman of BIID, Elena Marco from Architects Registration Board (ARB), RIBA Architect Satwinder Samra and Grand Designs magazine editor Karen Stylianides.

The judges named Coco Barwell for her Beach House as the winner of the Mini Grand Designers Competition, and The People’s Choice winner was ‘Our House’ a collaborative design by Byron Pakes, Aiden He, and Tyreece Causon-Holloway who were chosen by scores of visitors over the show’s duration. These lucky winners received a Grand Designs Live award and a prize supplied by Choconchoc.

Exhibitors across Grand Designs Live reported an exciting and successful show, with interest and sales high.

Al Bruce, Director & Founder of Olive & Barr Premium Kitchens said;

“It’s been busy and we’ve had lots of strong leads; we’ve already booked a larger stand for next year.”

Brand Development Manager for Lusso20, Ebru Hayvaci said;

“The show has been successful were happy to be here, the visitors have a vision and are looking for premium quality, so that has really suited us.” In the Build sector Mark Podobnik, Director of Pirnar said, “We’ve already booked Grand Designs Live London for 2024 and Grand Designs Live for Birmingham this year.” While HomeGrid’s Managing Director for EMEA, Brian Dargan, in Green Living Live, commented, “This is the first show that we’ve launched Lithion at in the UK and we’ve had a really good reception to it and the footfall has been brilliant.”

Richard Morey said of the show;

“We have had a really busy show, welcoming thousands of visitors eager to discover the latest in-home build and design. Our practical workshops and educational free expert advice sessions have become an invaluable resource for people, and the live talks on all 3 stages have delivered entertaining and insightful conversations on everything from sustainable interiors to the future of Custom Build.”

Grand Designs Live London 2023
Grand Designs Live London 2023

The next edition of Grand Designs Live and Green Living Live will take place at Birmingham’s NEC from 4 – 8 October 2023.

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