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Place Identity Dwelling: New Considerations in the Design and Procurement of Volume Housebuilding in Scotland Home Improvements Professor Fiona McLachlan,

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Presentation on theme: "Place Identity Dwelling: New Considerations in the Design and Procurement of Volume Housebuilding in Scotland Home Improvements Professor Fiona McLachlan,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Place Identity Dwelling: New Considerations in the Design and Procurement of Volume Housebuilding in Scotland Home Improvements Professor Fiona McLachlan, University of Edinburgh Social Housing Denny E & F McLachlan Architects, 2011

2 SUBURBAN : South Gyle (1995-97) inward looking, social and physical focus increased density compared with surrounding VHB housing protective “defensible space” clarity in public/private thresholds inclusive – rented and shared ownership including first shared ownership wheelchair user housing Own work E & F McLachlan Architects – place, identity, social cohesion

3 URBAN: Brownfield Holyrood North (1996-2000) brick island hierarchy of urban spatial thresholds public and semi- private very high density low income


5 SEMI – RURAL EDGE: Whitburn, West Lothian (2007) urban role, defining the gateway, reinforcing the edge fronts and backs social cohesion, mixed development, wheelchair user, frail elderly, mainstream

6 Eigenhaard housing, Amsterdam Michel de Klerk The expression of the entrance the entrance threshold, shared space Psychologically significant, protection, privacy


8 RURAL TOWN Denny (2011) innovative land release, informal terrace, socially integrated What do all these have in common? -Social housing -Non-profit organisations -Expectation of architect – led, traditionally procured

9 Volume House Building Design at the Heart of House Building 2007-8 Methodology The broad method, consisting of three phases was set by the terms of the Scottish Executive’s Research Brief: an initial widespread email questionnaire followed by a series of semi-structured interviews with a sample of house builders to investigate key issues in more depth, and a series of case studies developed in more detail from the second stage findings to highlight good practice Interview themes definition of design quality the integration of design into the development process the influence/role of ‘one-off’ design priorities in terms of design positive and negative influences on design quality good practice examples

10 Developers comments: “Quality as a place to live…..Design quality is the branding of the company…It is not about architecture, but about a good quality product that is constantly honed…Liveability and usability…..Ease of build versus cost of building…good design is what sells….privacy, good spec, good amenity….design is wide ranging - it is part of everyday activity…the balance between functionality and cost….traditional or contemporary” Defining design quality the definition of design quality is a complex mix of factors (internal design; external building design; site layout and urban design; buildability) developers believe customers’ interests do not reflect what they believe designers (i.e. architects) are predominantly interested in concerning design

11 LAND RELEASE CRITICAL -Land acquired through competitive bids tends to need to be developed quickly resulting in standardised products and reduced design time -Land which has been ‘land banked’ offers more opportunity for architectural input more likely to be used for ‘one-off’ or customised -Cul de Sacs – often generated by random release of land parcels -More recently increased emphasis on place-making and identity, masterplanning and the design of infrastructure should help -Developers need to reduce risk in planning process and masterplanning can give more certainty BUSINESS MODEL CRITICAL -Market – high, low, mid-range defines investment in ‘design’ -Profit margins higher at high end, more time invested in design, identity, image -Cost of land therefore directly affects design time invested -Lack of ‘Buildability’ is seen as the main issue in one-off architect designs

12 The location of new housing development is critical, as is layout and design. We do not intend to repeat the mistakes of the past with large, single-tenure housing estates, poorly connected to jobs and services or dependent on the private car for those connections and designed in a way that does not foster a sense of identity or community. Good design is about more than just architecture and the aesthetics of individual buildings. Some of our finest conservation areas are not necessarily defined by great individual buildings but by the spaces they enclose.” Firm Foundations, 2007 p 13 Forward by Nicola Sturgeon Evolving Scottish housing policy 2007-2011

13 Designing Places 2008 PAN 83 Masterplanning 2008 Literature Review - Evolving Scottish Guidance and Planning Policy 2010-2014 Designing Streets 2010 Creating Places Scottish Planning Policy - 2014

14 Variation and standardisation in design standard house types are normal and repetition is seen as providing better quality in terms of liveability, usability, and build quality through trial, testing and evolution bespoke or ‘one-off’ design tend to be solutions for specific sites, to suit topography, planning briefs bespoke designs may not provide better build quality but usually better urban design Image credits:, Mactaggart & Mickell

15 Cutting the cloth Constructing the analogy Developers made reference to external “jackets” used on standard internal layouts to suit specific sites, regional materials, planning requirements, and markets favouring ‘contemporary’ or ‘traditional’ Image credits:

16 Mactaggart & Mickel “Raasay Rural” apartment As dressed by Roan Rutherford of Wren Rutherford Austin-Smith:Lord at the Drum, Bo’ness

17 Mactaggart & Mickel “Staffa” house In suburban attire In rural attire

18 Ambiguity

19 Houses as product Marketing of private housing is dominated by constructed lifestyles Customers shop on-line for products by name There is little sense of lifetime homes, housebuilders want their customers to buy another product to suit the change in lifestyle In some cases the designer label is clearly part of the decision, the company design ethos being strongly promoted …Bronte, Shakespeare, Hardy …Forth, Fyne, Jura, Keilder …Gigha, Raasay, Isla, Tarbert

20 MacTaggart & Mickel Aidan’s Brae, Glasgow Architects : George Reynolds and Roan Rutherford, Wren Rutherford Austin Smith Lord “….plenty of room for your morning Pilates..” Domestic space marketed through use and lifestyle


22 Academic output – Article RIBA Journal of Architecture Vol 15, No 2, 2010 Jenkins P and McLachlan F Authority and Identity Architects value: individual creativity a sense of design identity/ethos a direct response to context, connectivity and a sense of place architects’ copyright tends to be forfeited to the developer who can then modify and adopt as a standard company product

23 AHRC : Home Improvements KE Project 2012-14

24 Home Improvements main website : Outputs: Reports: Housing Practice Research Report Research Practice Guide Final report - Knowledge Exchange in the Creative Economy Events: Call for notes of interest from architectural practices -October 2012 (36 responses, 9 invited to submit bid) Ideas Lab – Sheffield December 2012 (3 out of the 9 selected for funding) Research in Commercial Practice Symposium, October 4, 2013 - University of Sheffield, Arts Tower Space to Park Parliamentary Launch, February 12, 2014, Portcullis House Home Improvements exhibition at the AHRC Creative Economy Showcase, March 12, 2014 - King's Palace, London

25 Home Improvements Research Report in Practice Research in Practice (led by Sheffield University with RIBA) Recommendation 1: further research There are many diverse areas of housing that require immediate research. We identify two broad areas that require significant research: a) Long-term Building Performance Evaluations (BPE) that will help to develop a body of knowledge concerning how buildings perform socially, economically and environmentally. This would provide architects with a strong evidence base of successful outcomes. b) A better understanding of housing delivery mechanisms, including procurement, will provide pathways to enabling greater innovation in housing.

26 Home Improvements : Final Research Report 2014 PDF available to download

27 Home Improvements main website : Three ‘embedded’ KE projects: Ash Sakula / Sheffield University – Collective Custom Build URBED / University of Edinburgh – Parking Space Satellite / Kingston University – Public Realm : A Street Primer

28 Space to Park – Final published report Westminster Launch February 2014 Website : http://www.spacetopark.org



31 Summary ’Home Improvements’ encouraged collaborative research to bridge the gaps between academia, practice and industrial partners The ‘ideas Lab’ event was highly successful as a means of promoting dialogue, particularly as the outcome was financial support for research KE projects are time-consuming particularly in the early stages before clear dialogue is established, greater lead-in time would have been of benefit There is a wealth of knowledge embedded in practice which is often not considered as research and which tends to be isolated from access to funding Research in practice occupies a grey area between research and consultancy.

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