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University of Dundee launch suburban housing design study

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August 18 2014

University of Dundee launch suburban housing design study
The University of Dundee is to lead a study zeroing in on the quality of design (or lack thereof) of new suburban housing, in an effort to boost standards ahead of projected suburban expansion over the next 15 years.

A spate of sprawl is anticipated in Perth & Kinross, Edinburgh and the Lothians and Aberdeenshire as local authorities scrabble to meet an expected 20 per cent population increase.

By bringing together academia, industry, government and regulatory bodies the study aims to assess how architecture can be prioritised through new methods of procurement in the delivery of volume housing.

Professor Graeme Hutton, head of architecture and planning at the University said: “The Scottish Government has already outlined its commitment to improving the quality of the built environment yet no empirical evidence exists to unequivocally prove that the policy statement has had any demonstrable impact on the everyday physical quality of the architecture and environment being presented to the public.

“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. What we have continued to see in the majority of cases is a `product-led’ rather than `place-led’ approach to expanding provision in our towns and cities.

"It is well researched 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 Glasgow School of Art together with the Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde are also collaborating on the venture.

4 Comments

A Local Pleb
#1 Posted by A Local Pleb on 18 Aug 2014 at 13:25 PM
I'd like to know what housing developers will be involved and what commitment there is from them to respond to any outcomes?
I think the density of developments has to change, people are paying huge sums of money for very little external space between adjacent plots - it has certainly put me off a lot of what I see! Little thought is given to communal space and landscaping because it provides no direct financial return! Increased role for Planners in terms of urban planning?
Also is Joe Bloggs unhappy with his lot or is it just the academics who get hot an bothered?
Egbert
#2 Posted by Egbert on 19 Aug 2014 at 10:37 AM
Good stuff - this is urgently needed given the woeful state of most developer-led housing in Scotland today. What's particularly galling is that despite the Designing Streets guidance having been in place for four years most volume housebuilders seem to be completely ignoring it - apart from a bit of shared space here or there developments are still overwhelmingly roads-led with frontages dominated by parking, pointless and indeterminate grass verges everywhere but no meaningful communal space, and next to no integration of civic or commercial facilities with housing areas. The recent planning applications for the expansion of Haddington - a fine town with a history of innovative and characterful housing - are a depressing case in point. That local authorities are still turning a blind eye and waving acres of sub-standard dross past for the sake of housing targets is frankly unacceptable.
DennisPennis
#3 Posted by DennisPennis on 19 Aug 2014 at 14:17 PM
This is 20 years overdue. Look at the expansion of Inverness and the bland mono-culture of housing. Density is not the problem. I watched the BBC programme on the Fittie Squares in Aberdeen and how high density with communal spaces has worked and remains desireable for generations. What we need is variety as this will encourage good practice. We have too few developers leading to very little competition. Much more should be done to open the market up to a variety of developers, including self build (which we lag far, far behind other European countries).
EL
#4 Posted by EL on 20 Aug 2014 at 09:18 AM
@Egbert;
you can't blame the house builders for lack of schemes with Designing Streets. As far as I am aware there were a number of the larger house builders who were very proactive in the early days in trying to push this philosophy. Roads are the ones who are belligerently fighting against it. You can only bang your head against the wall for so long.

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