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Current Issue: January 2007

  Welcome to the first issue of Materials World for 2007. I hope that you all had an enjoyable break and that you didn’t pile on too may kilos over the holiday. I mention this because it ties in with our theme — the built environment. How? Well, new NICE (National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) guidelines on obesity call for buildings and spaces to be designed to encourage physical activity. As a result the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) — the UK Government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space — has produced a briefing examining what this means.
  According to the report, most sustained exercise is taken during the course of everyday activities, such as travelling to work or going to the shops, rather than specifically for health purposes. Therefore, the built environment should provide a network of routes to maximise the potential for activity on foot or by bicycle, rather than by motorised transport. The needs of cyclists and pedestrians should be put first — and drivers second. The document also advocates better signposting of stairs in the workplace and the availability of showers as an incentive for employees to cycle to work. Personally, I am not convinced that signposts and showers would make me more active, although I can see the advantage in well laid out parks and public spaces.
  Our features for this month will not bring you a miracle cure for obesity but they will inform on traditional building materials and their response to water. We also see how the ambience of an Italian shopping centre has been created using polycarbonate.
   News items report on the development of a new process to make hollow ceramics with reduced waste and the announcement that British scientists have succeeded in electro spinning fine threads of biocompatible silicone that contain viable human brain cells. The group hope the material may one-day aid in tissue regeneration.

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