The Scottish Government is committed to improving the quality of the built environment (Creating Places - A policy statement on architecture and place for Scotland) 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 where the public comes face to face with architecture. 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.
Scotland’s suburbs are set to expand significantly over the next 15 years. Key population increases are planned for Perth & Kinross, Edinburgh and the Lothians and Aberdeenshire of upwards of 20%. It is well researched - and a matter of fact - that good architecture 'adds value'. There is however an increasing perception that architecture is the province of individual 'signature buildings' with little engagement of architects in designing buildings and places which belong to the ‘everyday’, particularly in relation to volume house-building. The result in the majority of cases is a ‘product-led’ rather than ‘place-led’ approach to expanding provision in our towns and cities. This project will seek to redress these issues by prioritizing architectural design (in its most inclusive format) as the focus of a study to raise the ambition and future direction of suburban housing provision in Scotland. The programme will:
• examine the relationship between architectural design and volume house-building
• examine the potential use of design principles which identify common place-specific and environmentally-responsible criteria
• determine new mechanisms for ensuring the integration and longevity of design quality in the procurement of volume house-building
Through the facilitation of knowledge exchange across European borders and sharing of expertise among academia, industry, government and regulatory bodies across design, planning and policy, finance and housing, the programme will redefine the collective identity and character of contemporary suburban housing in Scotland and its particular relationships to our society, urban centres, landscape and environment.