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Knockroon show homes completed

October 4 2011

Knockroon show homes completed
The first three show homes at a Prince’s Foundation master planned settlement in East Ayrshire have been completed.

Developed in collaboration with Hope Homes and ZeroC Holdings Knockroon is being touted as a “heritage led regeneration” of the area surrounding Dumfries House, purchased by the Prince of Wales in 2007.

Architects Ben Pentreath and lachie Stewart have sought to reflect the architectural tradition of Ayrshire in their plans – which are being overseen by the development director of Poundbury, Andrew Hamilton.

The first phase of development work will comprise 88 homes (of an eventual 600), 12 work units, two commercial buildings and a local shop

The Chief Executive of the Prince’s Foundation, which continues to oversee the design, Hank Dittmar, said: “While the project follows the example set by Poundbury in creating a walkable, mixed community, Knockroon is resolutely a Scottish design, reflecting the character of Ayrshire while providing attractive contemporary living. Along with Dumfries House, Knockroon is set to become an exemplar of Scotland's leadership in community and regeneration.”

Anne Hope, Director of Hope Homes Scotland, said: “All visitors will be made welcome as we want everyone to have the opportunity to learn more about the excellent ideas behind the design of this new model community.”
Interior design work was carried out by Caroline Brown.
Interior design work was carried out by Caroline Brown.
Knockroon borders the town of Cumnock
Knockroon borders the town of Cumnock


#1 Posted by Divvv on 4 Oct 2011 at 14:55 PM
Is it too late to add these to the Carbuncle Awards Shortlist?
#2 Posted by wtf on 4 Oct 2011 at 17:14 PM
Plastic Fantastic!!! Particularly like the fake chimney pots (can't imagine you'd get that may open flues through SAP)...How much to live surrounded by different tones of grey tarmac?
#3 Posted by Barry on 4 Oct 2011 at 19:53 PM
I like it. I think the place is quite charming and if it brings joy to people's lives, and they like this place, then good luck.
#4 Posted by Michael on 5 Oct 2011 at 10:09 AM
The tiny chunk built so far is undeniably very attractive and, so far as I could see, very "plastic" free. I suspect it will turn out to be a very pleasant place to live. What I cannot quite fathom is the strange "darkness at noon" reaction of some other comments. I bet they don't get worked up about the acres of uninspiring, dismal and dull new housing that is unfortunately the norm in Scotland. Why don't they get out of their puritan "modernist" straight-jackets, take a reality check, and realise that traditional styling, handled well, can actually contribute in a very meaningful way to the attractions of a place in which to live. I don't think that one historicist (or"revivalist"?) housing estate represents a threat to anyone; but I do wonder why it excites them so much? Interesting question, that one.
Alan Dunlop
#5 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 5 Oct 2011 at 10:31 AM
Not really interesting, nor surprising Michael. The response to dull, dismal and uninspiring new housing is not this but good, high quality contemporary house design which recognises and accepts that we are no longer living in the 18th century. Instead of this car free, fake chimney, limited daylight, tarmac surrounded, imitation georgian pastiche.
Alan Dunlop
#6 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 5 Oct 2011 at 10:40 AM the way Michael, is Turquoise the new Avocado?
#7 Posted by Michael on 5 Oct 2011 at 11:32 AM
No, Alan, you really are already getting your blinkers on. Loosen up. There is some fine "contemporary-modern" housing out there. Unfortunately there is a great deal more, as you will freely admit, that is pretty dismal is visual appearance. So far we are agreed. But thereafter I think that you go down a narrow, intolerant route. Is historical styling really immoral? Are the fashion police really out there to stamp-out any literal references to the past? Why, at the end of the day, should a developer or architect have to toe the line to contemporary stylistic dogma (ignored, anyway, as we agreed, by most)? At the end of the day, this is housing. Where people will live, primarily. Maybe it is not as originalil (stylistically?) as your own work, but I don't see that it deserves the condemnation heaped on it by you. It is housing, and , having seen it, I feel that it actually works very well as housing. The interiors are the usual developer's show-home decor, but when I went around on the open day I certainly didn't find the interiors at all dark or ill-lit as you imply. Quite the reverse. The windows were large, and some of the ceiling heights unusually generous. And I was surprised the prices seemed very affordable.
It's time to get the blinkers off, Alan, and not just shout childishly "pastiche" every time something like this sticks its head above the parapet. There are things to be learned here, as much as disagreed with, if you are not too closed in viewpoint to take them on board. I'd far rather have another dose of Ayrshire vernacular derived design to look at, if as well detailed as this, as I go along the road than 99% of what is built.
#8 Posted by Michael on 5 Oct 2011 at 11:42 AM
...and your comment Alan, about Turquoise and Avocado? Please explain?
#9 Posted by WHATShegonnalooklikewithachimneyonhim... on 5 Oct 2011 at 11:44 AM
what the hell are 'fake chimney pots'?? surely if a pot goes on a chimney then it's real. no house is complete without a circular hole cut into the fabric to accommodate a boiler exhaust flue. oh wait...

michael, reasoned response there. i wouldn't expect one in return...
Alan Dunlop
#10 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 5 Oct 2011 at 11:48 AM
See Michael, that's the problem. This has nothing to do with style, fashion, dogma or blinkers but architects and architecture responding to how people live in the 21st century. That's our role. You're not sticking your head above the parapet at all but instead pandering to the lowest, least sophisticated level of taste.
#11 Posted by dirige on 5 Oct 2011 at 12:00 PM
But do architects respond to what people want? I mean the average everyday people who watch Xfactor, eat McVities for dinner and all that. They want the lowest level of taste which is why the landscape is growing with the scab of mass housing developments. They don't have the taste or money to appoint architects to come up with a sensitive, modern design. So architects just sit back, scorn from a distance, taking the role of bespoke designer and wishing the country was more like egalitarian Holland. So what to do? I think I would rather see some pastiche developments like this, which appeal to the same base taste (and also to tourism) rather than the noddy house/McMansions. Honestly, I would rather have houses looking like the Inverness Expo, but it will be a battle of attrition to try and turn the average jo's tastes and aspirations around.
#12 Posted by RDRR on 5 Oct 2011 at 12:13 PM
These ARE noddy houses.

They just so happen to not be built by Cala or Barratt.
#13 Posted by dirige on 5 Oct 2011 at 12:20 PM
Admittedly, the interiors are pretty shocking, reminds me of my grannies hoose.
#14 Posted by Divvv on 5 Oct 2011 at 12:27 PM
My granny would love those sofas.
#15 Posted by Stewart on 5 Oct 2011 at 12:40 PM

This is architects and architecture responding to how people live in the 21st Century.

They’ve addressed the frustration felt by many at the identikit, minimum space soul-less Noddy houses. Perhaps they have concluded that modern life, and how we live it is rubbish and therefore looked to the past for inspiration.

While I don’t buy the idea that life for all was wonderful in the 18thC/19thC that the aesthetic of these houses seek to reflect at least they have taken a different path to that of usual volume house builders.

It may not be your response but it is a valid response and therefore deserves a fair critical appraisal rather than moaning that it’s not a contemporary or modernist response.

Interesting that the one commentator on here who has visited it suggests there may be some positives despite the “Poundbury” approach. I intend to visit it before drawing my final conclusions.
#16 Posted by Barry on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:29 PM
@Alan Dunlop

These houses aren't "living in the 18th century". That's incredibly ignorant.Their styling refers to the past. So what?... people like that. People of your clique, the "cool modernist crew" do pastiches to -- it seems many 'contemporary' buildings strive to echo the buildings of Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe in terms of aesthetic first and foremost with the so called 'machine for living' philosophy being an afterthought. And since your buildings do not represent the absolute values of technical prowess, your solutions to 'contemporary' life are not necessarily any better than what this design proposes.

Who gets to decide what is contemporary anyway? If the building is sustainable and eco-friendly and doesn't negatively affect the environment, what does it matter how it is styled? Who are you to tell people that minimalist structures are 'contemporary'? You're essentially at war with the principle of traditionalism -- but who says the forms that your buildings create, are any better? Does living in a 'contemporary' house make people better human beings? No. Your buildings are stylistically 'contemporary' but these buildings are also fit for the modern world.

I take it we'll knock down Edinburgh's old/new towns then too because they're not of the awe-inspiring white render and brick architecture currently sweeping Scotland.And while we're at it, people are banned from singing classical/opera music aswell because that's just "oh so 1832".
Alan Dunlop
#17 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:31 PM
Don't think so Stewart, it is absolutely indentikit, but the kit of parts are just borrowed from another century. It's also disingenuous, a sales pitch masquerading as a well considered, pro active and sensitive resonse to the output of volume house builders. Such a project does nothing to improve the general poor standard of developer housing in the UK.

Alan Dunlop
#18 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:34 PM
Forgive me Barry, you know nothing about me.
Time to leave this debate I think.
D to the R
#19 Posted by D to the R on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:39 PM
Never mind that .... theres no bog roll ! Check it out - better sort that before Nana moves in .... oops - 'Not again'
#20 Posted by dirige on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:41 PM
Don't fret, there is a towel at hand.
#21 Posted by shandy on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:41 PM
Hey Alan, don't forget we've got our monthly meeting of the "cool modernist crew" tonight at 7.30!
#22 Posted by Barry on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:43 PM
@Alan Dunlop

How do people live in the twentieth-first century Alan?

They eat, sleep, go to work, get married, laugh, cry, argue, yadda yadda.Just like the past. The difference now is that we have materialistic products which mark our culture distinct from the past.We're more advanced in essence.

these buildings represent the lowest form of taste.And your square, angular, poor man's Mies Van der Rohe buildings with a wonky 'feature' wall style of architecture is taste personified. lol. Oh, and I wouldn't slag off the turquoise bathroom if I were you -- that wee thingy called the Radisson you designed has a big, em, greeny-turquoise wall on it which responded beautifully to what the people of Glasgow wanted since I assume you surveyed them all before you designed it.............

And you don't respond to what people want Alan. You design from your own microcosmic platform. You're every-bit as deterministic as the designers of traditionalist buildings. Infact, you lot are worse since you ram your (often disliked) architecture down our throats.

Alan Dunlop
#23 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:48 PM
Shandy, I've had it im my iphone since August. Barry....... you seem a decent enough lad but are clearly disturbed.
#24 Posted by Barry on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:51 PM
@Alan Dunlop

I know nothing of you? Em, I'm commenting on YOUR words in this comments section which is what em, a comments section of a site is for. I don't have to own a restaurant in order to be a food critic. And I don't have to 'know you' in order to comment on your words.

#25 Posted by Divvv on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:52 PM
I'd rather live in a garden shed designed by Alan Dunlop on the back of a fag packet than in a house like above.
#26 Posted by dirige on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:55 PM
I think that these Prince Charles-type developers should look at somewhere like New Lanark for a historical precedent for rural planning: compact, dense, self sufficient etc.
#27 Posted by Michael on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:56 PM
Alan, sorry but no. I do think that all you are troubled about is the historicist "style".That is really the only 18th century element of the whole thing. Ignoring the astrallaled windows and the much discussed chimneys etc, we are talking about modern houses with comparatively generous interiors. The other thing that is different is that a great deal of thought appears to have gone into layout, variation of many house types, massing of houses in conjunction with their neighbours, individuality of appearance of houses, value for your money (as far as I can see), and at least an attempt(and a decent one) to create a real sense of community through design. Where is your line over designing for modern people, not for 18th century people, now? Architecture, as you well know, is usually a far more 3 dimensional eqation than simply the "stylistic issues". All in all, Knockroon is pretty good. Even the tarmac you mention looked like only the temporary base for future stone flags etc. Now, as for that Georgian styling, it is convincingly handled externally, without actually conning anyone into thinking that this really is Georgian. Someone suggested it was "Noddy" housing. No, I really don't think so. There is no useless stck-on tacky bits of plastic trim or pointless, unnecessary decoration. It all looked quite logical and well thought out. Like someone designing in Georgian style rather than glibbly and ruthlessly using Georgian details to their own ends (which is what I would think of as pastiche). I'm not saying that the Georgian styling doesn't matter. In fact, I see no reason on God's earth why we should not have a diversity which allows us to accept this for what it is - well detailed historicism . And I still await someone actually giving me a REAL reason why a well handled histioric-referenced style is not just as valid for a housing estate as any other. It does not cut ice to abandon reasoned debate and claim that the other point of view is tastless or common or whatever the phrase was you used. Think hard, and come back with some real debate.
#28 Posted by Barry on 5 Oct 2011 at 13:58 PM
@Alan Dunlop

You say "you seem a decent enough lad but are clearly disturbed." On what basis please? I assume aswell as being an angry architect, you're also a qualified psychologist to determine I'm disturbed from my valid comments on a comments section of a site.I'll wait for you to post a report to back up that wee claim you made.Or if you can't, I'll assume your were talking oot of that wee thing your call an arsehole.

Alan Dunlop's architecture moral : if you like traditional architecture, you have bad taste. And if you call of Mr Dunlop's ignorance it means you are mentally disturbed.

Aye mate.
Alan Dunlop
#29 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 5 Oct 2011 at 14:00 PM
Would you feel the same
Alan Dunlop
#30 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 5 Oct 2011 at 14:00 PM
Would you feel the same
Alan Dunlop
#31 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 5 Oct 2011 at 14:00 PM
Would you feel the same
Alan Dunlop
#32 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 5 Oct 2011 at 14:03 PM
As I was about to say before my fingers hit submit before finishing.

Would you feel the same Micahel if it were convincingly handled Tutor or Anglo Saxon, or Pict?

#33 Posted by Michael on 5 Oct 2011 at 14:45 PM
Alan, your question raises two issues. Firstly, the issue that it is not so much the style you use as the way you use it. Secondly, the relevance of the style to the circumstances (or age?) in which it is used.
Architects such as Wren or Bernini or Lutyens have skillfully used and developed past styles, sometimes irreverently in the case of Lutyens, and managed to pull off great and memorably inventive buildings. The Scottish 19th century architect William Burn happily used English Jacobean and Elizabethan styles, putting them through his own mill and adding to the mix his own interest in efficient planning. Some other architects of the past have managed to run respectable practices by being a bit more derivative. As someone correctly mentioned, architects today certaily can be derivative (or fashionably up to the minute) by scanning not past styles but the pages of the journals. I think that it is pretty evident that what really counts is not what "style" you build in, but how wellyou use or refine or adapt or integrate or develop that style. A lot depends on whetheryou want to design a significant building, or just an attractive one; whether you want to be Great, or just Good, on whether you are any good, or on many other things.
As to the relevance of a style? Well, arguments have been made in the past, usually by the modern architects of their own day pushing their own ideas. Pugin or Gilbert Scott, for example, arguing that only Gothic was appropriate for their Christian society. It can be a good sales pitch too, for your own product. Architects if they have any sense always spin a good line. I wouldn't personally take any of that too seriously, though I always empathise when I hear them. Is Knockroon relevant in style. Well, it is commissioned by a man well known for his trad views in architecture, whose team can doubtless put up a good argument as well as any. It seems appropriate to me that he would want to build in a style he has often lauded. A bit like putting his money where his mouth is. I respect him for it. In so doing, he leaves himself open to criticism... but I would like to see criticism and appreciation that just doesnt get hung up on that single aspect - style.
So, to answer, your question, I think that there is not much surviving Saxon architecture about, so I think that it might be a bit limiting! Tudor? Why not, though it might raise political/nationaistl issues to design in a deliberately English style in Scotland today. Pict? Well, I suppose you might see P&P's bid drumkinnon Tower at Lomond Schores as a sort of modern interpretation of Glenelg broch.!!! My answer, it depends on how it is done really. I admire much of your work, but it doesn't stop me also appreciating or criticising Knockroon as an historicist piece of work.
#34 Posted by Alastair on 5 Oct 2011 at 14:46 PM
Interesting debate and I can't help but praise your reasoned arguement Michael. I'm afraid to say that I come up against the stubborn minded modernist architect attitude far too often. I work in the development industry and we are 100% following this exact same approach with our new developments, and indeed have worked with the Foundation on some sites.

I will admit that I am a fan of some, bespoke modern architecture when it is done cleverly and sensitively. However, far too many architects either let their egos run wild and design proper carbuncles or they pander to the greed of many mass production builders to design the cheapest possible house to maximise what little profits they can.

I know that I would put my money down for one of these style houses in this sort of development any day over a replicated suburban development style house. Good quality modern architecture is fine but far too expensive to do well, especially on a large scale so in the meantime, I think this is a wonderful solution to creating housing that actually has a bit of character about it and creates a place that feels 'nice' to be in. And bring on those chimenys - they make the roofline far more interesting!
#35 Posted by WTF on 5 Oct 2011 at 15:37 PM
Let's not pretend these are about catering for the desires and preferences of the x-factor watching, biscuit munching majority - if they where they'd be detached, have room for 2 cars at the front door and they'd have to cost a fair bit less than these double fronted jobbies will...

These are about some hazy view of the past but without any rigorous examination of
- why village structures where as they where and why people moved out of them when life changed
- how such places may be revived as real places rather than lifestyle choice dormitory towns
...And if spending money on blocks and mortar, flashings and pots to make a style gesture isn't a splash of egotism I don't know what is!!!
#36 Posted by Alastair on 5 Oct 2011 at 16:06 PM
Asking why people moved out of village structures is starting from an incorrect premise as many people across the country still live in them, and many continue to flock back to them. If anyone takes a longer term view of development as well, and looks to a time when cars simply aren't economical to run (it may be 10 years, it may be 100 years away) then there is a school of thought (one that I subscribe to) that says we will end up living back in smaller local communities. Then it doesn't matter whether your house is modern looking or not, but the essential layout of to be correct - something Knockroon has tried to design in from the get go. Add to that the fact that traditional achitecture, whether modernised or not, does create attractive places to live and that has been proved so it makes sense to learn from the lessons of the past rather than try to reinvent the wheel for the sake of it, and often, as in the last century of so, getting it

I completely agree that reviving real places is a much better goal, and I would tentatively suggest that the way to do that is to be building his very thing, with community facilities and commercial, industrial etc space built into the fabric. Until there is the infrastructure for people to stay in a village town and not commute, they can't and won't.
Finally, in response to your last point I was say spending money on flashings and pots, to me at least, is less to do with ones ego and more to do with spending on making my environment a nicer place for me to live in and be around.
Auld cynic
#37 Posted by Auld cynic on 6 Oct 2011 at 09:14 AM
If this is the future…then oddly I think I prefer the past?

Why is this kind of pious solution seemingly endemic in Scotland at the moment?

Is it reflective of a nation so lacking in cultural and economic confidence that an imaginary past can only be better than the future?

Why are we building thousands of these new settlements across the country when our cities are full of empty sites?
Who is going to live in them, where do they live at the moment? Where will they work, how will they get to work? Where do they keep there bins even...

Housing has nothing to do with style and everything to do with designing appropriate, practical and inspirational spaces and places for living?

Have a look at Accordia outside Cambridge, pick a Scandinavian architect’s website – almost at random?

Look at the kind of contemporary living spaces Hertzberger is making right now
and have a look again at the photo’s above and wonder at the kind of future and aspiration they represent for our country.

I’ve seen the future…and its probably elsewhere.
#38 Posted by Michael on 6 Oct 2011 at 10:59 AM
Dear Auld Cynic,
I'm baffled by your visual experience of modern Scottish housing estates. Can you name another housing estate in Scotland which attempts tradition in a way which isn't clumsy and oafish? I can only think of several very small developments, and both done over ten years ago. Can you come up with a recent one? It seems to me that Knockroon is very much a one-off. I doubt very much that we are about to be swamped by architectural historicism. As far as what we will get in the bulk of God awful housing developments here in Scotland, it would be a merciful blessing if it was so, but it isn't! While decent contemporary modern is at a premium, so is decent traditionalism, only much more so. I have no problem with well detailed traditional stuff. Why not? Why do you think it is apparently immoral or dangerous? I'd like you to come up with a decent answer to that. The only real answers I have had back are off the cuff remarks and cynical jibes. Using an historical style well is clearly not living in the past, since these are very modern homes also. But what carefully considered and detailed references to the past can do is create atmosphere, a sense of place, of identity, look very attractive and give people a sense of pride in where they live. I don't think Knockroon is Great Original Architecture, but having seen it I do think it is a very good development, at what I thought was affordable prices. So why are you and others talking such puritanical nonsense about the sins of historicism? It may be unfashionable, but that doesn't mean it will bring darkness at noon and the end of the world. And, if you bothered to read the debate above, you would perhaps have noted that there is some reason to believe that it may well be more fit for purpose in its other aspects than most other housing estates of today.
#39 Posted by Divvv on 6 Oct 2011 at 11:57 AM
I think Auld Cynic is spot on.

Michael, when you say "Why do you think it is apparently immoral or dangerous?" I don't think anyone is saying that it is immoral or dangerous, just that its tacky, not well thought out, uninspired and unambitious. Not just in style terms but in other terms too.

And the constant comparisons to the noddy homes/ volume house building/ awful housing developments etc I think miss the point because no one is saying that they prefere these. You could justify any number of bad architecural/ design choices by saying "well, at least its better than most of the housing built in Scotland today".

If anything, I'd bet the Knockroon development makes the same mistakes as these houses- (i.e. WTF's #35 comments)- they'll be surrounded by cars, roundabouts, etc etc...
Auld Cynic
#40 Posted by Auld Cynic on 6 Oct 2011 at 12:53 PM
Michael, I did say; that in my opinion it’s really nothing to do with style, just good innovative inclusive design, and nor do I think that is being puritanical to believe that that is what people should expect and deserve?

I did not refer to any particular Scottish housing estates, nor can I honestly name one which successfully attempts tradition, as you put it.

I am though surprised at how many such estates and settlements such as Elsick and Knockroon are currently being proposed and approved in the ‘New Urbanist’, manner with guidelines specifying so called ‘traditional’ styles, and I wonder whether this is truly the panacea that you and other’s seem to imply?

I really don’t pretend to know the answer. But many years ago I lived on a Wates estate in South London (after Eric Lyons span houses) and designed by Austin Vernon in about 1965. It was a tile hung entirely non-descript looking terraced town house with a clever, practical, flexible plan and section affording light filled rooms, in an intriguingly laid out estate of tree lined avenue’s, cul-de -sac and little squares.

Families, couples, singles, old and young lived there very happily often ‘flipping’ to a different house type as there needs changed, or (because the walls were non load bearing) altering the layouts to suit.

Clever, but really very ordinary stuff. Built by a developer, designed by an architect.

It was a delight to live in and even today conspicuously and unapologetically ‘modern’ in ambition and conception.

As I suggested, if Knockroon and Elsick really are the future, we really should revisit the past?
D to the R
#41 Posted by D to the R on 6 Oct 2011 at 13:25 PM
Who IS the best ..... Dunlop or Barry ..... there's only one way to find out ...... FIGHT !
#42 Posted by Michael on 6 Oct 2011 at 16:26 PM
I think we have all been here already, Divvv. We have to move away from the subjective thing (its tacky / no it isnt ) and get a bit more serious debate if we are going to get anywhere. Why do you think it is tacky? or uninspired? or unambitious? What particularly about it is tacky? If it is the concept of using a past style which troubles you, then say why exactly this so rouses your ire. But it is not enough to say that it is not fit for purpose, or "living in the 18th century", because it clearly will have appeal and funcionality as a modern housing estate. If you think that we are all about to be threatened by "traditional developments", you have to be able to find more than just one other example to put against the hundreds of recent run of the mill estates. And you have to tell us what about that- using a traditional style - is so bad in your view. So too, you cannot just speculate about cars and roundabouts when there isn't going to be a roundabout in the whole place, and the developers there are actuaklly trying to tackle the car thing to some extent.
And yes of course relative merits DO count. You can't just demand the best and, when you fail to get it, refuse to rank or rate the alternative. If this blasted place is better than most, then that is something. If more people criticised the dismal visual aesthetics of most that is built, we might actually get somewhere in Scotland. Instead, we seem to do a very good line in shouting down any out-of-the-ordinary attempts which don't meet our own (rather dogmatic?) expectations, and happily accepting the dross . Is that not the case?
Lastly, I know it is not cool to like Knockroon. And I certainly am not for advocating it as the way forward or as the future, or as the panacea that Auld Cynic mentions; but I have seen the little of it that has been built, and I find myself defending it, simply because the criticisms seem very unjust, unrealistic and, in some cases, just a tad intollerant of architectural diversity. I also have a sneaking suspicion that I am the only commentator on this site who has actually seen it. As an experiment, I think it deserves serious consideration.
Walt Disney
#43 Posted by Walt Disney on 7 Oct 2011 at 12:51 PM
What an extremely enjoyable debate. Lots of architects lambasting housebuilders and the tasteless public - i.e. the Client and the Customer. Do architects not appreciate that without either, architects wouldn't exist.

I've worked in housebuilding for 20 years and have had many bad experiences with private practice architects, so instead of slagging of housebuilders shouldn't the profession concentrate on being client focussed or isn't that cool? You might find that it pays the mortgage and pays your staff's wages.

Housebuilders emply in-house architects and planners. Its true that our primary goal isn't to get awards or get published in a 'luvvie' architectural magazine. Our goal is to deliver value, at the point of purchase to our customer. When we don't deliver value to the customer we fail and go bust. When we do, we provide quality homes to families, employ thousands of people, provide apprenticeships for the future and help fund and deliver schools, low cost rental housing, care homes and community facilities. So we're sorry that we don't light up the architectural press, but we're too busy working.

As for Knockroon. Its a good start. It offers an alternative. It looks to be well built and well delivered. Its also doing it in a tough location in a tough market with a build and procurement strategy that looks expensive, so I take my hard hat off to them although I assume that they picked up the land for buttons which will help.

It would be interesting to see what type of house your average polo neck clad architect lives in. I'll put a fiver on there being a lot of Edwardian terraces, Victorian tenements and Georgian apartments.
...and one last thing...
#44 Posted by ...and one last thing... on 7 Oct 2011 at 13:27 PM
Walt, I’m too fat for a black polo neck these days. But I did build my own house and I am very average.

If most architects chose to live in ‘traditional’ properties it might be because they have ‘traditional’ qualities like big, flexible rooms, full of natural light and solid well built walls you can’t push your fist through.

Exactly the opposite of Knockroon, and unlike the product produced by most main stream housebuilders?

Why don’t you build something to break the mould, challenge your own preconception’s, reduce your margins and see whether you can get your first architect customer?
#45 Posted by Stewart on 7 Oct 2011 at 13:42 PM
Walt makes several valid points. The level of debate, and calling it a debate is generous, typifies architect’s at their – whinging, self-indulgent best. Any debate about housing standards and the RIBA’s call for greater space standards are a great starting point needs to be inclusive and not dismissive.

I am generally ambivalent about the stylistic appearance if these houses but any perusal of the website housetypes would conclude that they clearly seek to reflect local vernacular Ayrshire village architectural styles. As such the kit-of parts is at least an attempt to address/ respond to local context and not a set of housetypes that one could expect to trip over in any Shire the length and breadth of the UK never mind Scotland.

Like Walt I take my hard hat off to the fact they have chosen to build and invest in that location and at this time. Selling those houses would be a hard sell in any market conditions but especially so in the current financial climate.

On paper this development seems to offer a different approach with some positive aspects. Let’s hope the positives are realised.

Architect’s and housebuilders need to work in partnership to raise the bar in housing and estate design. Have a look at the Polnoon development outside Eagleshem to see what could be achieved.

Demonising housbuilders will leave architect’s further removed from the debate rather than at the heart of it where we should be.
Walt Dis
#46 Posted by Walt Dis on 7 Oct 2011 at 15:10 PM
I find Walt Disnae’s comments excruciatingly arrogant. Is it just me?
You don’t pay my salary Mr house builder, or most of Scotland’s Architects and staff. Your generic and tragically dull products are usually whipped out of filing cabinet and cobbled together by your own in house team or your lap dawg architects practice who are punting out this drivel out at astonishingly low fee levels.
Admittedly there are a few overzealous turtle necked clad [‘luvvies’?] who I must imagine are difficult to deal with and fail to see your enlightened side of the debate. Luckily my staff and my mortgage are happily provided for, thanks. This is as a result of sheer hard work and dedication which results in our [intelligent] client s paying us fees for our clever ‘products’. In fact, most architects that I know are committed professionals who understand the need for both commercially successful deliverability and well designed, safe, sustainable and quality residential environments.
Your drive for ‘value’, or increased profit margin, has brought the standard of construction quality, suburban planning and residential architecture to a depressingly low level over the last 20 years. In my considerable experience of working with house builders, the only time there has been consideration of real design issues has been when having to smooch up to the local planners in order to get a coveted consent. These issues are soon forgotten about or diluted as the projects progresses on to site.
This approach shows a complete lack of respect for the public and their own customer base who are spoon fed this dross. They are not a tasteless bunch and demand a bit more than the ‘Montrose’ or the ‘Glenalmond’ housetypes.
Yep, I can’t think of any architects who would actively choose to live in one of your products. We know too much.....
Frank Lloyd Wright
#47 Posted by Frank Lloyd Wright on 7 Oct 2011 at 15:12 PM
What an extremely enjoyable debate. Lots of builders and the tasteless public lambasting architects - i.e. the Client and the Customer. Do architects not appreciate that without either, architects wouldn't exist.

I've worked in architecture for 17 years and have had many bad experiences with contractors and house builders, so instead of slagging off architects shouldn't the industry concentrate on being quality focussed or isn't that cool? You might find that it enhances peoples lives and the environment whilepaying your staff's wages.

Architects are employed by house builders and private clients. It’s not true that our primary goal is to get awards or get published in a 'luvvie' architectural magazine. Our goal is to deliver value, throughout the design and procurement for our client and, ultimately their customer and the wider society and environment. When we don't deliver value to the customer we fail and go bust. When we do, we provide quality homes to families, enable the employment of thousands of people, provide training for the design and construction professionals of the future, develop regulations and safety as well as help deliver schools, low cost rental housing, care homes and community facilities that get better every year. So we're sorry that we don't like plastic chimney pots, but we're too busy working.

As for Knockroon. Its a good start. It offers an alternative. It looks to be well built and well delivered. Its also doing it in a tough location in a tough market with a build and procurement strategy that looks expensive, so I take my hard hat off to them although I assume that they picked up the land for buttons which will help.

It would be interesting to see what type of house your average hard hat clad housebuilder lives in. I'll put a fiver on there being a lot of crass, overscaled mock Georgian/classical kit houses with badly laid out proportions and metallic effect wall tiles.
Walt Disney
#48 Posted by Walt Disney on 7 Oct 2011 at 16:00 PM
A few points of clarification:

1. Value doesn't equal margin. Value = delivery + quality - cost.
2. Housebuilders love to work with architects who are innovative, proactive and customer / value driven. In order to deliver conistent value to customers, housebuilders maintain portfolios of standard product - in the same that VW keps a standard range. We do this to ensure cost and delivery certainty. Sure we'd all like a custom Aston Martin but can we all pay for one? We offer different product to different sections of the market, from 2 bed mid terraces to open plan bespoke villas.
3. Architects do not build anything. They provide designs for others to build to.
4. I must have missed the part of my architectural studies where I was appointed as arbiter and custodian of all things that are tasteful and good and sent out into the cursed earth to preach to the unwashed, tasteless masses. I thought the customer was the king, not me.
5. Profits / margin = jobs. The private housebuilding sector in Scotland put £6bn pounds into the Scottish economy prior to the crash. Over 100,000 people were directly associated with the housebuilding industry.
6. Instead of standing at the window and shouting, why don't architects engage in housebuilding and with housebuilders? How many architects are members of Homes for Scotland? How many architects attend BRE / HfS events? Does housebuilding not carry enough cache? Is it too difficult to get into the AJ with a 100 unit housing scheme? Or is it just much better to stand on the outside and criticise?
7. Housebuilders tend to live in the houses that we build : as we tend to get a company discount, we like what we build and we know that water won't pour through the roof from some ill considered, fashionable detail drawn up by a year out student on £12k a year.
#49 Posted by Douglas on 7 Oct 2011 at 19:34 PM
Total entertainment listening to the petty point scoring. At the end of the day the VAST majority of occupants / customers / recipients of architecture lost confidence with few exceptions with architects many many years ago.

If professionals could just prevent their image of self importance / sole arbiters of good design for other folks then we could perhaps give the "wee folkl" someting they want, desire, cherish and VALUE (aesthetically, lifestyle wise and economically) without "throwing the baby out with the bath water". Let's listen to the broader opinion that is out there and still muted, until a real disaster is designed.

Just accept that architect's can lead appropriate development fitting the appropriate location, consider that other people have opinions too, meet them if they can be met and move on. In other words nice development which will hit the spot with, what do you call them, ah yes...... the residents.
#50 Posted by Matthew on 10 Oct 2011 at 16:09 PM
@Alan Dunlop

Last time I looked we all still had two eyes, a nose, hands and legs and all the rest, and ate and shat pretty much the same way as we did in the 18th Century.

So, if people are just the same as they've ever been, why should architecture change? We can easily live in an 18th Century building today. The things that we demand now - elecricity, central heating - can easily be added. Just like hundreds of thousands of 18th Century houses around the country.

I liked these houses, I thought they looked generous, well built, nicely related to each other and the street, and the style is a clever adaptation of the past without copying much, in fact. I suspect they will be wildly successful, providing as they do a change from the norms of development, be it developer's boring standard plans or architects' dated futurism.
#51 Posted by FW on 10 Oct 2011 at 18:35 PM
We, we live in an age where stupidity and crassness are common place and yet Matthew, you are without a doubt the dumbest individual that I have ever read. I would reply more thoroughly but I fear your head would come off.
#52 Posted by Wilhelm on 10 Oct 2011 at 19:17 PM
"Architects Ben Pentreath and Lachie Stewart have sought to reflect the architectural tradition of Ayrshire in their plans" - Well done! Creating a real sense of place. I believe that the architectural identity of a place arises from continuing building traditions that are directly associated to that place through history, culture, climate, materials, and building systems that the local carpenter and mason can easily manage to keep going. Simple, refined, well detailed, easy to maintain, attractive.
Actually no changed my mind.... this is not the future, where is the glass curtain, the extruded aluminum and timber cladding, where are the sharp flat roof projections, the random explosion of openings, the cantilevers and impossibly amazing angles of architectural flair. Sarcasm.
#53 Posted by Barry on 10 Oct 2011 at 21:40 PM

I echo your point too. Who actually gets to decide and moreover define, what is 'contemporary' design?

If buildings, which reflect the local vernacular, are eco-friendly, green and non-damaging to the environment, why must 'traditional' aesthetics be looked down upon.Especially if people, that is the buyers, like them?

I think the major beef modernists have with traditionalism is actually centred on style (and cultural snobbery). Modernists think their architecture is better -- the shapes they form are cooler, edgier, better for humanity etc. And traditional forms are backward, inward looking etc.

Is there any proof that contemporary design is any better than traditional? Does it make people happier? Do people achieve more in life by living in a contemporary house as opposed to a house that is modern but with a traditional twist?

All a society can ever do is make the best use of its technology at a given moment in time. And since we have an understanding of what constitutes healthy design, if we make our buildings eco, green, and in sync with the environment, then we've done well.And if those buildings are happen to have 'contemporary' stylings or traditional veneers whilst still being eco, green and in sync with the environment, I'm happy for either to be built.

I think we're at a point in humanity where we can look over our history and appropriate the past for own if we so wish. As long as our buildings satisfy eco standards, I personally think all styles are valid -- it's down to the discretion of the individual.

...and one last thing...
#54 Posted by ...and one last thing... on 11 Oct 2011 at 09:20 AM
What a lot of sycophantic drivel.

Lachlan Stewart lives in a castle, buys mugs, teapots and rugs and makes them tartan to make them Scottish. He markets an idea of Scotland and life here which is of little relevance to the majority, but sells product.

It’s all very lovely indeed.

However, a teapot is a teapot whatever colour or pattern you paint it?

The real question is will its design stand the test of time, does it make a nice brew and does it pour well?
#55 Posted by Murphy on 11 Oct 2011 at 10:48 AM
I can't claim to argue my case like some of the high school debating champs that seem to be commenting on this thread but I will throw my coppers into the hat;

On the point of developers, in some ways they should be applauded for following (at least on paper) basic urban design principles and is a massive improvement on the standard rubbish that the majority blight our beautiful country with. However I am yet to be convinced that just because they can build to a masterplan they actually give a damn about anything other than squeezing every last drop of profit out of their 'sustainable' product.

On the question of style I find it hard to believe we are having this debate, architecture is a product of its time and place - like any other form of art. If no one had invented any new music or style of painting in the last 200 years this world would be a pretty boring place. The evolution of ways of living will only occur by making a series of small steps forward, not copying a stage 200 years ago. We have to learn lessons from the past, reinterpret this for today and design for the future.
#56 Posted by Divvv on 11 Oct 2011 at 15:08 PM
There are a whole lot of different points in this discussion, but I think two central ones for me are:

Firstly the difference between 'reflecting'/ 'referencing' (etc) and 'copying'. These houses don't reference or reflect anything; they just blindly copy a style from centuries ago without any ambition. Architects/ Designers do not learn or work in a social vacuum, so will always take inspiration from the past, but the homes above are the equivalent of an artist re-painting the Mona Lisa (badly), and then selling it on for £20. There is nothing morally wrong with this- its just not art (in the Mona Lisa case), or creative architecture (in the Knockroon case). It’s just a bit unadventurous, un-ambitious and, I would argue, shows a lack of confidence in our ability to plan, design and build for the future.

And secondly an almost paranoid fear of ‘modernists’ or even simply ‘architects’ as if they are an identifiable group of cultural snobs who sit about swilling brandy and scoffing at cultural proles. It’s as if some people on this board where childhood victims of modernist bullies who dragged them behind Basil Spence buildings to beat them up. Appreciating contemporary architecture does not mean that one loves all glass boxes and hates all stone relics: just as there are many contemporary eyesores, there are numerous ‘traditional’ eyesores- the only difference is that the traditional ones, largely, have been demolished and forgotten. Tradition is not all good- Contemporary is not all bad- and vice versa. The Knockroom houses above are neither traditional nor contemporary but pastiche.
#57 Posted by FW on 11 Oct 2011 at 16:41 PM
Sad really that a project so lacking in ambition should be held up as good design and sadder still that it should take up so much space with so many ill informed and frankly stupid comments. This is a developers money making excercise, nothing more not a counterpoint to poor developer volume housbuilding. If you should choose to live there above all else then you're welcome to it. But to ignore the many and wonderful housing developments worldwide and the potential of modernism shows ignorance in the extreme and has no place really on an architecture website.
#58 Posted by FW on 11 Oct 2011 at 16:57 PM
And before some dullard named Alistair, Matthew or Barry responds with the anticipated arrogance of architects retort, I am not an architect but a mechanical engineer but with enough creative insight to know how brilliant good contemprary house design can be.
#59 Posted by Divvv on 11 Oct 2011 at 17:16 PM
While your at it FW, Im not an architect either, nor have have I visited Knockroon, and I don't beleive either of these facts change the validity of my comments.
#60 Posted by Barry on 11 Oct 2011 at 18:32 PM

Traditional architecture has no place on an architecture website? Why -- because you dlislike it and you want rid of it? Who made you the resident gestapo chief? Yer maw?

If someone dislikes a traditional form of music, say opera, should that be the determinant for banning it since hip-hop is popular these days?

Fact is, no-one is denying there is good modernist stuff about. But equally, traditionally styled buildings are also valid and since MANY people get comfort from them (physically, emotionally etc), you'll just have to deal with that.

Modernists seem to think that having buildings which are utterly devoid of any traditional references and are what in design aesthetic are labelled 'contemporary,' will usher in some golden age of humanity.Proof for that?

It comes down to some truths -- if traditionally styled architecture is in no way inferior with regards to eco credentials and thus doesn't negatively affect the environment, then building traditionally styled buildings which are still fit for the modern age is fair game. And since many 'dullards' like them, these people should have their voices heard too --and if architects, the kind who have orgasms lookings at Mies Van der Rohe buildings don't like it, then tough!
#61 Posted by Barry on 11 Oct 2011 at 18:42 PM
@ Divvv

You're missing the point -- it is clearly people who appreciate modernist architecture who are hostile to anything else.Look to @FW when he openly states that these traditionally inspired buildings "have no place on an architectural website". That's quite a statement and one which has no argument behind it -- just an aggressive statement.

How many of the pro-traditional peepz on here have said contemporary architecture should not exist? The answer is none.Funny that -- many, including myself, have acknowledged good design is the key but good design need not exclude elements of design which psychologically impact a person in a good way -- that is, some nice traditional elements incorporated.

Our entire architectural discourse is dominated by modernists. Think RIBA etc. But their way is not the only way. And indeed, traditionally styled buildings can have a place in society and still be very fit for the modern age.
Carlo M
#62 Posted by Carlo M on 11 Oct 2011 at 18:42 PM
Ye dae sound like a bit of a twit Baz, nae harm tae ye.
#63 Posted by Barry on 11 Oct 2011 at 18:59 PM
@Carlo M

That's your opinion. You're free to own. But since this topic is concerning architecture and not your speculations upon me, I think your comment in misplaced.

It's a funny ol' world -- when men with inferiority complexes such as Carlo M cannot articulate a point, they resort to insults totally unrelated to the topic at hand. Sad but predictable.

But it does prove my point -- this debate has shown quite clearly how it is 'modernist' enthusiasts who are overwhelmingly the most rude of all parties involved in this discussion.

It appears that people who endorse traditional architecture ASWELL as good modernist stuff must be insulted to silence our views.But design nazis, who can''t abide anything bar their own perceived view on contemporary architecture not only denounce other approaches but are actively rude to those people.

Round of applause chaps -- your buddies back at the design-gestapo HQ will be proud.

*post 61 should say CABE and not RIBA
Santa vs Alien
#64 Posted by Santa vs Alien on 11 Oct 2011 at 23:42 PM
If the chimney pots are fake then why is there a basket of chopped firewood in the living-room?

Or is it not chopped firewood at all but, rather, blocks of nougat for Jesus?
#65 Posted by Neil on 12 Oct 2011 at 12:38 PM
To return to Alan Dunlop's first comment (if I may do so without inciting another wave of humourless trolling) there is a serious point about the sheer amount of tarmac surrounding these - somehow public realm seems to have escaped the care and attention to detail (pastiche or otherwise) shown elsewhere. Not only visually jarring but also with rather worrying implications for a new town - buildings are of course only ever half the story...
#66 Posted by God on 12 Oct 2011 at 12:41 PM
Let's all go back to point 56 and read it together out loud. With the odd exception eveything else before and after is repetitive taxi patter.
#67 Posted by Neil on 12 Oct 2011 at 12:43 PM
I second that.
#68 Posted by basil on 12 Oct 2011 at 12:51 PM
Barry has mockintosh furniture. Fact.
#69 Posted by Barry on 12 Oct 2011 at 14:11 PM

Yep. That comment is related tot he topic how exactly? Oh, it isn't.......

It appears you're more concerned with commenting on me than the topic. Speaks volumes about you hun.
stu d
#70 Posted by stu d on 12 Oct 2011 at 14:59 PM
People, show a little initiative and investigate before making blind assumptions about the amount 'tarmac' and other elements. You'll notice the only tarmac in the photo is within the street in front of the houses (the street is quite narrow btw and framed by granite kerbs) and the pavements between said street and houses. As I understand it, having visited the site, the pavement surface is just a base treatment which will be finished soon and not as 'tarmac'. Also the 'tarmac' in the foreground is actually gravel (being part of the site compound), which will eventually be built on. Think you all are just reaching to find something to criticise just because you don't like the architecture. Lazy. Especially as it looked to me to be an exemplary development in terms of its urban design and construction quality (not to mention at quite reasonable prices). Then again this misrepresentation is entirely too common in the thread above and appears to be the standard architect's knee-jerk, puerile, uninformed opinions stated as if they are facts.
#71 Posted by Michael on 12 Oct 2011 at 17:02 PM
Just returned after a few days to see how this debate has advanced, and I'm sorry to say that real debate has been absent. It seems to me that those who are prepared to rate Knockroon as something worth a second look are quite prepared to justify their view with some supporting points. But its detractors, though zippy with ripe put-downs, are a bit short on justifications. I ask yet again, if this is to be a real debate, how about some argument on why you consider Knockroon's historical styling to be such a bad thing? Inaccurate comments on tarmac (it has now been established twice that the tarmac is only bottoming for flagged pavements), on chimneypots (yes, there are actually woodburning stoves and boilers in every home), on tartan teapots (don't even go there), and so on, do not help with the credibility thing. If you think it is badly detailed historicism/ pastiche/ revivalism, how about saying how it falls short. If you think a traditional style is bad in itself, why not say so. It seems to me a well thought out development and more fit for purpose than most I have seen, however much it may reference trad detailing. I genuinely would like to know not just your opinions, but how you justify or advance them.
My own view is that too many people seem to place importance on the choice of a "style", whether contemporary or traditional. The real truth (as architects such as JJ Burnet and Basil Spence knew only too well) is that its not so much the style that counts, but how you handle it.
#72 Posted by Jimbo on 13 Oct 2011 at 08:45 AM
Very well said, Michael... the comments on this article reflect comments on this website in general in my opinion. The (dare I say enlightened) minority of people have taken the time to offer some carefully considered critique – positive and negative. The majority offer straightforward criticism, as the negative comments come flying straight off a big ol’ knee-jerk!! As for my thoughts on the scheme, it looks like the old houses in my Aunt’s village in Ayrshire and is certainly more attractive than the recent infill development in the same place, which for me is as good an indicator as any!
Walt Disney
#73 Posted by Walt Disney on 13 Oct 2011 at 14:21 PM
I attended a lecture many years ago at the art school given by Leon Krier. The great and the good were there including Macmillan and Metstein. The heads began to nod in agreement as Krier talked about urbanism, human scale, pluralism, identity, community etc. He then started to show slides of the work he was doing with HRH on Poundbury and that's when the sh!t hit the fan. Forget about al the great things that were going on. The houses liiked old fashioned. Cue various outbursts from the Glasgow Glitterati and bemused looks from Krier. All of these educated architects in one room and none of them could look through the wrapping paper and appreciate the present. This is just the same.
baw sucker
#74 Posted by baw sucker on 13 Oct 2011 at 15:02 PM
Whatever style Poundbury was made in it would still be pure shite- its a rich middle class suburb where stepford-housewifes drive everywhere in 4x4s and gossip bout each other's gardens. Its a gated community without the gates. What is there in Poundbury thats different form any other town accept the "new urbanist" marketing gimick and design codes to stop you doing what u want to to your own house? So you can walk about? WOW thats amazing...
#75 Posted by Michael on 13 Oct 2011 at 16:41 PM
Dear Mr "Sucker",
What exactly would a gated community be without gates? It would be, err, a not gated community. We don't have any gated communities that I've ever come across in Scotland. Can you name a single Scottish housing estate with locked gates? I very much suspect that these are few and far between if not non-existent in Scotland.
I have no idea about Poundbury, never having been there. I have been to Knockroon, and that is what we are debating here. It looks very well designed to me, very attractive, and also VERY AFFORDABLE. If you don't like it and its ethos you don't need to buy there, full stop. So what's your beef about it then? What do you really not like about Knockroon? My guess is that you actually don't know why you don't like it, and your reaction is based on a series of mis-apprehensions, assumptions and, very probably to judge from the bitterness which seems to shine through your words, on very possibly just a little chip on your shoulder which has nothing to do with Knockroon.
I'm sure we'd all really like to hear back from you if you can tell us why exactly Knockroon is so bad in your view, or what exactly is so wrong with New Urbanism? Come on, give it a go. Have a big think and we might get some meaningful exchanges out of this. So far, intolerance only seems to be a hit with the intolerant.
baw sucker
#76 Posted by baw sucker on 13 Oct 2011 at 17:10 PM
I quite like Knockroon actually. Poundbury's shite but. And New Urbanism is just "We're gonna build a town... with a centre... and people can walk in know, like ... ALL TOWNS... except, we'll call it "New Urbanist" and get Charles to pose for some advertising, and jack up the prices!"
basil the rat
#77 Posted by basil the rat on 13 Oct 2011 at 17:19 PM
@Barry it's totally relevant.
And I'm not a hun I'm a jambo.
#78 Posted by Michael on 13 Oct 2011 at 19:33 PM
I take your point about New Urbanism, Baw. But perhps restating the obvious isn't too bad an idea. My wife spent some time in the US and she tells me that some towns were so designed for cars that walking to the local shops was a bit like trying to walk to Chas de gaulle Airport! And some drivers were so insensed by the sight of someone purposefully walking that they opened their windows and jeered while stuck in traffic. It seems to me that on a number of levels Knockroon is actually trying. I still can't quite get at the reason for so much opposition to it, when no one seems to get worked up by the usual design of housing estates which, frankly, isn't at all "ambitious" in any sense.
basil the rat
#79 Posted by basil the rat on 13 Oct 2011 at 20:44 PM
Michael, any profit led, uninspiring nonsense building showcased on architecture website and ruthlessly defended by vitriol spewing architect haters would generate the same reaction. As someone might have said the 'style' is irrelevant.
The END.
Carlo M
#80 Posted by Carlo M on 13 Oct 2011 at 20:50 PM
Please let this thread die, it's embarrassing. New Urbanism does not deal with the real world, let Duany and his crew tackle brown field sites on Glasgow's riverfront or the east end.
#81 Posted by Michael on 13 Oct 2011 at 23:22 PM
Not quite sure who is in "the real world", since you are all so fast with opinions but never offer much justification. And where are you coming from, Basil, when you appear to believe that profit and architectural achievement seem to be incompatible? Perhaps I am misinterpreting your meaning a little, though it is not exactly clear to me. Do you perhaps mean that profit is only bad when it results in "uninspiring nonsense"?
Knockroon as a housing development makes perfect sense to me, as do many contemporary-modern developments. But why do YOU think Knockroon is "nonsense"? How do you reach your conclusion? What do you base your view upon? How do you counter the points in its favour already made? And why do YOU think style irrelevant, when it is (presumably?) its style which causes you to consider it "nonsense"? Or what? I don't know if anyone else cares, but I'd like to know WHY EXACTLY people hold such extreme views about Knockroon.
(Vitriol? Never use it. Nor nonsense either).
#82 Posted by Barry on 13 Oct 2011 at 23:36 PM
I asked @basil the rat for proof of a speculative (and wrong) claim he made of my supposed taste in furniture.

basil the rat was unable to reply with proof thus his post was clearly just provocative for the sake of it and thus equal to trolling.

With regards to this topic and therefore scheme, I still think it looks nice and if people get enjoyment from living here, then good luck to them. That's always important in housing -- to actually like your environment.

This project might not be 'edgy' or 'cool' or make it into the pages of all those self-appointed "we know best" style magazines, but who so what!
basil the rat
#83 Posted by basil the rat on 14 Oct 2011 at 00:11 AM
Who so what indeed.
The END.
#84 Posted by Barry on 14 Oct 2011 at 00:43 AM
@basil the rat

lol @ u

Comments are free to all. So, from the sanctuary of your wee computer, do not tell people it's the end of discussion just because your ignorant debate has been exposed. Many here are genuinely interested in this discussion.

#85 Posted by Edwardtheconfessor on 14 Oct 2011 at 15:46 PM
Good lord, what a bunch of angry people. Calm down you lot, it's only a housing development and it's Friday after all.
Methilated Spirits
#86 Posted by Methilated Spirits on 16 Oct 2011 at 21:52 PM
I've been reading these comments with interest, and I have to say that I've been greatly entertained! To an outsider, it would appear that the 'defenders' of the Knockroon development and its style have the upper hand in the articulation of their views, in complete contrast to the standard response of many in the architectural profession who have been brainwashed through their education into an incredibly elitist, dull and narrow view of architecture - that all new buildings must pick-and-mix from all the current fads, whether monopitches, wooden cladding, horizontal-shaped windows, plastic cladding made to look like wood, you name it! And these buildings must, of necessity, give absolutely no clue as to their location in the world, whether in materials or traditional features, because to do so would lose the architects credibility with their peers.

Traditional-looking buildings are dismissed through use of that offensive word 'pastiche' or perhaps by some of the disarmingly rude remarks above, without realising how such an attitude comes over to the general public. Some in the architectural profession consider that 'education' of the unenlightened is the answer - as, for example, when architects in Edinburgh questioned people in the street about a well-known hotel of traditional design in the Royal Mile and were shocked to find that the overwhelming majority actually liked it!

It seems to me that a similar situation has arisen here with Knockroon whereby its detractors are unable say why it's so wrong that a development should reflect national and local tradition in its design. Even where attempts to reflect local opinion are made to get away from bog-standard modernism by subtly reflecting the basics of what might be a 'Scottish' style, as in the Oatlands development in Glasgow, the architectural 'style-police' cry 'carbuncle' as did the first post about Knockroon above! Regardless of the derivation of that term in architecture, it is clear to me that the Knockroon development is as far removed from being a 'carbuncle' as it is possible to be.

Hopefully, the Knockroon development will encourage all concerned to 'up their game' in the design of the other 95% of speculative housing in Scotland. Instead of criticising competent approaches to housing and neighbourhood design, the detractors of Knockroon should face up to the fact that the development industry is never going to be able to provide everybody with a bespoke house or building which can be praised in 'emperor's-new-clothes' fashion in the architectural press and try instead to approach the situation in such a positive way that their expertise can be realised and appreciated more widely.
#87 Posted by Divvv on 17 Oct 2011 at 11:31 AM
I don’t know where this idea came from that all architects are anti-Knockroon, and all the “general public” love it.

And I really don’t understand why some people seem to assume that if someone insults another on this thread it’s because they are a “modernist” architect, and not a 15 year old teenager having a laugh.

The post above says “It seems to me […] detractors are unable say why it's so wrong that a development should reflect national and local tradition in its design.” I have tried to address this issue, and have argued above that Knockroon absolutely does not “reflect” or “reference” tradition (whatever “tradition” is), but copies it blindly. In a discussion purely about aesthetics, this, I would argue, is unoriginal and uncreative.

Genuine “traditional” architect has many amazing examples, and should be celebrated. There is no contradiction if a designer wants to live in a Georgian townhouse whilst designing contemporary glass boxes; I can love Beethoven whilst writing hip-hop songs. (I can also take inspiration from Beethoven- but if I just copied and pasted the music, I would be laughed at by music critics-even if the general public loved it).

In other countries this whole discussion would be unimaginable- designers just get on with it. Middle class families live healthy and happy lives in modernist “super human scale” tower blocks, or in contemporary-styled suburban housing. A forward looking, optimistic, healthy, happy society does not create this fake, fear-based, escapist housing like Knockroon so its owners can bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they live in some sort of 1950s (1850s?) (1750s?) (1650s?)- (do they themselves even know?) fantasy world.

I simply am not pessimistic enough to believe that architecture or design has reached an ‘end-point’, and that we are never going to better the past so we might as well not try. Learn from the past, reference it, but don’t just repeat it. I’d rather designers try something new and fail, than repeat mediocrity ad nauseam.
#88 Posted by FW on 17 Oct 2011 at 11:51 AM
divvv, many of the comments are from people, web designers and agencies involved in the Knockroon project, there intention is to keep the comments going by promting architects and others to answer.
#89 Posted by Barry on 18 Oct 2011 at 06:14 AM

The insults have came from self identified modernist aficionados towards the people who are open to traditional architecture.This thread SHOWS THAT.

Your Beethoven analogy is not very prudent imo. You say you would be laughed at if you just copied it. Em, no, if you copied it well or took inspiration from it as many classical musicians do to prove their worth, they become celebrated for demonstrating such accomplishment in a very demanding field of music. And to worry what 'critics' might think is silliness -- some bloke disapproves of this or that. Tough.You might want applause from the trendy CABE crowd who have their own ideas on design, but people should not have to be subjected to architecture they hate just because certain 'styles' have taken over. However, this building development isn't akin to 'copying' outright the past thus your Beethoven analogy fails. This development still fits the modern world. It just appropriates elements of the past which evidently, harmoniously fit into today's world.If people didn't get some comfort from the past then they wouldn't want these homes -- thus, the fact they do clearly illustrates something about our human need to appropriate our history but in a good way.

You said:

"A forward looking, optimistic, healthy, happy society does not create this fake, fear-based, escapist housing like Knockroon so its owners can bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they live in some sort of 1950s (1850s?) (1750s?) (1650s?)- (do they themselves even know?) fantasy world."

What proof is there for this claim? So, we live in modern styled houses which don't function any better than Knockroon and that makes us 'better'? Can I have a link to your sources for that please?

What other countries just get on with it in their modernist styled homes? Considering the developed world (western world especially) has the highest rate of drug use, suicide, depression etc, where are these modernist garden of edens letting everyone live happy lives as you claim? A third of all Europeans suffer from some sort of mental affliction -- so I guess your suggestion that "in other countries" their modernist buildings are aiding their amazing lives is slightly out of sync with fact.
#90 Posted by Michael on 19 Oct 2011 at 11:46 AM
Divvv - you are the only commentator knocking Knockroon who has provided argument to back your claim. Your argument is, as I understand it, that Knockroon's design is simply copying the past, and that it is "not Art". Earlier, I think you produced the analogy of copying the Mona Lisa. My apologies for not picking up on this. I am with you on this in so far as I know that Knockroon did indeed go out to research the local styles to intentionally base its designs on them. You can see this as copyism to an extent if you wish. As for it not being "Art" or "great original art", I am with you there too. But what I have been saying from the start is that it is good housing. I think this is probably what quite a few of the defenders of Knockroon have been saying. Actually, Knockroon is considerably "better" than most housing estates in many respects. I am certainly not an architect-hater or a hater of contemporary-modern styling, nor I have anything to do with Knockroon. But nor do I see the adoption of 18th and 19th century detailing, if handled well or reasonably well, as worthy of denegration. It has been quite effectively used for modern houses at Knockroon, and works quite well. I don't see any essential difference between doing this and the people who build volume housing with a watered down blend of what they have seen P and P or Elder and Canon or Richard Murphy or whoever doing a some years ago.
My main point really is that Knockroon is actually very good housing so far as I can see and a very good overall proposal for the whole development, all things considered, and that there is nothing essentially evil or cheesy about a trad design if handled reasonably well. I don't think anyone is claiming that Knockroon is great "Art"; I doubt even that Alan Dunlop or his fellow contemporary-modernists think they, for their part, are on a par with Leonardo and the rest. We are talking housing estates here, and if art is to be found and evaluated it is in the total effect and intention, not just in the intentional and obvious indebtedness to local historic styles.
The real thing which is constipating the development of contemporary architecture is a very complex issue which would make a very interesting debate, but I do not think that it is one reasonably detailed trad styled housing estate, name of Knockroon, that is the problem.
#91 Posted by jobbytuch on 20 Oct 2011 at 13:12 PM
Having carefully read over the debate and taken into consideration all the main points from both sides, I now hate everybody and everything.
stephen m
#92 Posted by stephen m on 20 Oct 2011 at 13:56 PM
I have been reading all of the comments, and was thinking about this at length last night.
There is a huge amount of debate, particulalry over the architect/non-architect/housebuilder perspectives on design etc which have been argued to the death. However I cant help but feel that that everyone is missing the point slightly.
Just for reference. I am an architect - I design where possible clean, sharp and modern buildings, but I live in a tenement from the 1890's. It is wholly possible to enjoy both traditional and modern design.
It is at this point where I feel a lot of people are sort of missing the point...... arguing about 'style' is completely arbritary. Opinion is fluid, and the 'style' whether liked or disliked is completely irrelevent to the discussion. My major problem Knockroon - is not the varnacular, because as correctly pointed out - it is a widely used, liked and appropriate rural village language in Scotland. The problem for me is that it is overly 'try hard'. What I mean by that is the quasi 'character' which is designed in, is completely false. Historic street in this language have varied materials, lines,pitches,arches etc because they evolved naturally as a result of function. Not as an aspiration of what character 'should' look like. It is sort of like bing at disneyland - you may like it.... but there is always a sense of the 'thinness' and the 'contrived'.
Whether or not it is a successful house, or street or town - for me is sort of un-important. The big issue - is that it is a missed opportunity. Why could we not have taken a similar apporach to what they do in Europe - Berlin, Utrecht.... take a site, set basic principals, then allow each plot/terrace/town to evolve naturally with a genuinely varied and characterful nature. That is how you create a real sense of place...
Methilated Spirits
#93 Posted by Methilated Spirits on 20 Oct 2011 at 22:29 PM
Sorry, I'm back again, but had to respond to the usual references to things being done so much better in Europe. I had forgotten about last summer's Housing Expo in Inverness which was meant to be a showcase for contemorary domestic architecture - in Scotland! I was reminded about it by a report on the front page of this Tuesday's 'Inverness Courier' - apparently only one of the 25 Expo houses being marketed by the Highland Housing Alliance (at £200,000 to £320,000) has been sold, they are now trying 'shared equity' and apparently they will offered for low cost rent or sold as 'affordable' if not got rid of by next April. While personally I think that there is place for sensible modern design, the following quote a local councillor is interesting and relevant to the discussion in hand: "We warned this would happen. The homes were not Highland designs, it was futuristic designs, where architects were given free reign". Oh, and by the way, I have nothing to do with the Knockroon, just like to see competent use of local vernacular in building design.
jimmy K
#94 Posted by jimmy K on 21 Oct 2011 at 18:14 PM
Seems that people don't like architects and after reading this, rightly so. I think architects have clearly let us all down and they should apologise to us on these terms:

An architect's apology to developers & contractors
1. Sorry for the 1960's tower blocks that were actually designed by Ogilvie.
2. Sorry for taking the blame from the public for your piss poor housing developments and pfi kingspan boxes.
3. Sorry for being on minimum wage while you swan around in your drophead Bently.
4. Sorry that you could afford build your own house.
5. Sorry that you didn't a suitcase full of qualifications to barge your way to the top while we spend most of our youth getting our back sides kicked in architectural schools.
6. Sorry that for the one chance we get to experiment with a tiny housing development that everyone queues up to kick our heads in.
7. Sorry that any value our profession had has been divvied up and handed out to various consultants and our professional body has let us down for the last 30 years.
8. Sorry for becoming effeminite over the years and not standing up for ourselves.
#95 Posted by What.a.numpty on 21 Oct 2011 at 22:32 PM
You're forgiven.
#96 Posted by Matthew on 27 Dec 2011 at 04:43 AM
Anyone who resorts to ad hominem insults in their first posting has failed. I can see why you don't use your real name.
Everyone else:
I'm an architect too. I have worked in award-winning modernist practices and for myself. I've designed modernist and traditional buildings. I think it's a case of horses for courses. Some clients like one, others like the other.
At Knockroon, the developer is building for sale. Do we really think cutting edge modernism will sell to the population at large? If so, why hasn't it done so in the last 90-odd years that it's been on offer? Why does it remain a minority choice, when choice is available? Why has it only been built at scale as council housing, when none of the inhabitants had a say in the end result?
I conclude that what modernist architects have to offer the house-buying public isn't something they want.
#97 Posted by craigdattons on 6 Apr 2012 at 17:30 PM
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c d

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