The Scottish Government is committed to improving the quality of the built environment yet no empirical evidence exists to unequivocally prove that the policy has had any demonstrable impact on the everyday physical quality of the built environment. We consider this unacceptable in a nation which proclaims the societal importance of architecture where, in effect, all our city edges are becoming the same. In particular, the continued acceleration of anonymous but market-friendly volume house building estates across Scotland suggests that the development of the suburbs has largely escaped critical scrutiny given that volume house-builders continue a populist but architecture-bereft sprawl across the landscape. Such developments pay no heed to the genius loci; the particular physical or cultural character of a place. Nor do house-builders seek to address the diverse and important emerging issues which contemporary housing raises including place making and place identity; changing family structures; the super-ageing population and digital health; passive drying of domestic laundry, energy creation and energy conservation.

The project objectives were to find mechanisms to prioritize architectural design (in its most inclusive format) in raising the ambition and future direction of suburban housing provision in Scotland to:

  • examine the relationship between architectural design and volume house-building;
  • determine new mechanisms for ensuring the integration and longevity of design quality in the procurement of volume house-building;
  • examine the potential use of design principles which identify common place-specific and environmentally-responsible criteria.

Programme Team

Professor Graeme Hutton, University of Dundee
Professor Chris Platt, Glasgow School of Art
John Brennan, University of Edinburgh
Dr Ombretta Romice, University of Strathclyde
Dr Neil Burford, University of Dundee
Professor Gordon Murray, University of Strathclyde
Matthew Benson, Rettie & Co.
Professor Dick Van Gameren, Technical University Delft, Netherlands

Final Report


Please contact the team for any outputs and follow-up activities.