SUST. [ www.sust.org ], the sustainability programme devised by The Lighthouse in collaboration with the Scottish Executive, is a ground breaking attempt to nurture and bring to life practical projects which best demonstrate sustainable design in architecture in three key areas: namely resource use, energy and travel. The twelve month campaign, will provide practical assistance available in the shape of web based guides and suppliers directories (not to mention plans for an accreditation scheme for architects who can demonstrate a sustainable design approach), and by March 2004, a legacy of real life building projects will be in production. These projects will include a community housing association, a future public sector education scheme and a luxury commercial residential development, and all will demonstrate how sustainable design concepts can enhance industry best practice.
Re:Motion: New Movements in Scottish Architecture, a touring exhibition curated by The Lighthouse and Glasgow's Graven Images, is the flagship public attraction of SUST., and recently made a high profile appearance at the inaugural Rotterdam International Architecture Biennale. The exhibition - on show until 31 October 2003 at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park at Lomond Shores, Balloch - attempts to address the key issues of sustainability with particular reference to mobility, and eight of Scotland's best architectural practices have been let loose to explore ideas on transport related issues and their impact on the built environment in Scotland.
The eight practices are:
Sutherland Hussey Architects
Gareth Hoskins Architects
Page and Park Architects (with Miles Glendinning)
NORD (Northern Office for Research and Design)
Gross Max Landscape Architects
McKeown Alexander PJMP
Dualchas Building Design
Bennetts Associates Architects
The various interpretations on the theme couldn't be more diverse. An exciting starting point is Sutherland Hussey Architects' utopian proposal which aims to demonstrate that new forms of transport infrastructure can be integrated into the heart of the city, obviating the need for ring roads and rural airports. Why not, they suggest, follow the example of the Victorians who built the great railway stations in our city centres, yet this time it could be our airports. For example Edinburgh Airport could be on top of Waverley Station? OK, this "Vision of Alternative Transport Networks at the Heart of the City" is probably pie in the sky but it's nevertheless a compelling idea.
Airports also crop up in Gareth Hoskins Architects' exploration of an alternative and sustainable approach to travel. This time it's Glasgow Airport and GHA posit the notion of adopting the use of the River Clyde as a main artery from Glasgow Airport to the city centre. The project also focuses on creating routes and modes of travel through the relocation of population from suburbia to newly created housing within the "blue field" site of the River Clyde. This new type of habitation would then open up many possibilities for alternative and sustainable forms of travel that will ease existing congestion. This is another compelling argument and this time not so pie in the sky.
Another realistic proposition is presented by Page and Park Architects, who together with architecture historian Miles Glendinning, have explored the concept of a 'Pedestrian City' for Glasgow. Focussing on walking as the most sustainable mode of transport, David Page explains that "The idea was to focus on a people-driven way of thinking. And so we came up with the pedestrianised motorway - one huge monumental route linking the city of Glasgow to the East End, a place where people could walk and cycle in a delightful manner to the heart of the city. It is much in the vein of Edinburgh's Meadow Walk with the facility for cars to get near and buses to get through." It is a viable option that rests on the reconciliation of old and new: an integrated system that minimises our dependence on transport but that celebrates its contribution, while highlighting the benefits of 'zoned' landscapes, including vehicle free areas for people to move through freely.
NORD have focussed their attention on the remote Scottish island of St Kilda for their presentation on 'The Politics of Remoteness'. St Kilda was a model of self sufficiency, yet through the lack of transport and communication systems, island society eventually collapsed. 'The Politics of Remoteness' addresses the issue of isolation and prompts us to consider the real implications of its true effects. It reminds us that remote communities are only sustainable through interconnection, infrastructure and a social and economic interdependence that enables us to plan, not just for the day, but for the future.
In contrast to the rural isolation of St Kilda, Gross Max have taken as their inspiration the futuristic construction of Cumbernauld New Town. Fundamental to the Gross Max proposal is the idea of examining the perceived negative aspects of the 1960's megastructure, and turning them into positive factors through a manifesto entitled 'Grow Your Own Town'. Eelco Hooftman of Gross Max explains, "The structure is there, so the idea is to work around it. All that surrounding land so near to the town offers a chance to play with the landscape, to bring it right into the town. Rooftops can become sheep farms; motorways evolve into drive in gardens. And the fact that it was based on the Italian hill-top towns makes it a bloody windy place, so there's an incredible amount of wind energy there to power the town."
McKeown Alexander have sought to explore a far less constrictive, more malleable way of living. They propose a contemporary interpretation of that gloriously nostalgic, yet slightly outmoded, symbol of a carefree existence: the mobile home. Prompted by Le Corbusier's all-encompassing villa designs of the 1920s and Scottish Parliament architect Enric Miralles' view that architecture, "contributes to shape a world in constant evolution," the mobile home expands on the theme that, "…rather than just fit into our given space, we should look at new ways to evolve within it."
Issues of re-inhabitation and long term sustainability on the Isle of Skye are at the heart of Dualchas Building Design's proposal. The Skye based practice examined the profile of post-Clearance Skye and have proposed a series of connecting structures and didactic shelters. "We thought about the old settlements where different generations of peoples had left their mark, like the Vikings and the Gaels, and looked at mobility in that context: the mobility of peoples," says Dualchas' Neil Stephen. "We wanted to show how these wildernesses were, for centuries, once populated, by thriving self-sufficient communities, and how politics of social change shaped the 'natural' landscape we see today. We also wanted to show how these factors are still hugely relevant to life here now."
Highlighting the history of these severed communities, Dualchas is forging a parallel with the dangerously diminishing populations of the Highlands and Islands today and the communities that still battle against serious lack of infrastructure. In so doing, the practice is drawing attention to a pressing political question: if today's remote communities are not given the requisite resources to develop, how will they survive?
Finally, as increasingly dramatic architectural shapes and forms continue to mould the landscape, John Miller of Rab Bennetts Associates suggests that "perhaps we are in danger of becoming too preoccupied with the look of the finished product." He believes that what is needed is, "a more holistic design approach that is not based purely on aesthetics but seeks to minimise the negative impact of buildings on our environment."
Bennetts Associates, as part of the Movement for Innovation Sustainability Working Group, has been actively involved in the development of a series of Environmental Performance Indicators (EPIs) for the construction industry. In a significant step towards providing guidance for less environmentally damaging buildings, six EPIs have been developed. These represent a widely applicable set of measures that can be used by construction professionals to gauge the overall sustainability of buildings. Against this backdrop, Bennetts Associates offers a thought-provoking exploration of the factors relating to transport that must be considered in order to achieve a thorough sustainable design approach.
Re:Motion won a Roses Design Award in October 2003.
Sutherland Hussey Architects
After studying at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, Charlie Sutherland and Charlie Hussey joined the internationally renowned practice, James Stirling, Michael Wilford & Associates. Sutherland was credited as Associate Architect on The Lowry Centre in Salford and the British Embassy in Berlin. A tenure at the Renzo Piano workshop in Italy, meanwhile, resulted in Hussey's involvement in the building of Rome's new Concert Hall, before Sutherland Hussey Architects was established in Edinburgh in 1996.
Last year the practice won two RIBA awards for The Barnhouse, a domestic house in London, and the Lynher Dairy in Cornwall. A new project to develop low-energy buildings for an education centre at the Grizedale Forest Arts Initiative in Cumbria is currently in progress.
Gareth Hoskins Architects
Gareth Hoskins Architects are barely five years old, yet the practice has already been responsible for a range of innovative projects spanning domestic construction to regenerative community initiatives. Projects such as Durham Art Gallery and Museum and the Family Reception Centre at HM Prison in Edinburgh have resulted in a series of awards.
Current projects also include the design of the much-anticipated Easterhouse Arts Factory. This well-conceived community-focussed arts building, aims to bring a new kind of heart to the centre of the much-neglected Glasgow housing estate. The practice's sleek glass private residence in Fife has been nominated for this year's Mies van der Rohe Prize and also in the offing are two progressive health centre designs, one in Edinburgh, the other in Glasgow.
Page and Park Architects
Since its formation in 1981, Glasgow-based Page and Park Architects has made a significant contribution to the Scottish built environment, with an architectural remit spanning sustainable urban housing schemes to museum buildings and road re-development. Having established a reputation for working within restrictive and challenging contexts, Page & Park have been responsible for designing some of Scotland's most distinguished public building projects.
From familiar early endeavours such as Glasgow Cathedral Precinct, and the Italian Centre, to celebrated contemporary landmarks including The Lighthouse: Scotland's Centre for Architecture, Design and the City and the Museum of Scottish Country Life at Kittochside, Page & Park's sophisticated attitude to people and places has served as a benchmark for contemporary Scottish architecture.
Dedicated to new ways of working within architecture and design, NORD (the Northern Office for Research + Design) was established by architects Robin Lee and Alan Pert in 2002. Inspired by their shared vision of an interdisciplinary approach, Lee and Pert were keen to explore their common interest in integrated design methods.
NORD's radical design approach has influenced a diverse range of assignments, including urban and environmental regeneration, interiors and furniture design. The practice is currently working on a commission for the Glasgow-based Bier Halle chain, where they aim to create a bespoke 'complete environment', encompassing construction, materials and fittings for a four-storey site in Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street.
Gross Max Landscape Architects
Recognised for their contextual and contemporary approach to urban space, Edinburgh-based landscape architects Gross. Max exude maverick appeal. Founded in Edinburgh in 1996 by Bridget Baines and Eelco Hooftman, the office consists of seven designers who originate from Holland, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.
One of the practice's earliest projects was a competition winning entry to build two parks at Potsdammer Park in Berlin. This subsequently sparked an ongoing series of public and private sector competition successes, including parks, civic squares, housing developments and land reclamation commissions. Current commissions include a civic garden in the former Rottenrow hospital in Glasgow city centre, collaborations with the architect Zaha Hadid in her work for the BMW factory in Leipzig Germany and a Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre in Kirkcaldy.
McKeown Alexander PJMP
Inspired by the principle of architecture as 'a way of life', architects Henry McKeown and Ian Alexander formed their practice in Glasgow in 1996. Central to their motivation was the chance to develop 'new ways of living', and they have since steered a range of projects, from private home extensions to cultural and religious centres, including the Glasgow New Synagogue.
Their new build housing complex for Molendinar Park Housing Association at Graham Square earned a host of awards including a RIBA Regional Award; the Building Design 'Innovative Building of the year 2000' Award; and a nomination for the 2000 Mies van der Rohe European Prize.
Dualchas Building Design
A desire to provide affordable, quality housing in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland inspired twin brothers Neil and Alasdair Stephen to set up their Isle of Skye based practice, Dualchas Building Design, in 1994. Their determination to provide rural communities with an economic and sustainable alternative to the nondescript, ubiquitous kit houses dotted around the Scottish landscape, has resulted a range of highly crafted contemporary timber-frame housing, based on the principles of the traditional Highland blackhouse.
Current projects include the design of the clubhouse for a local amateur football team, private dwellings in Gambia and London, and the Isle of Skye home of British yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur. Architects Mary Arnold-Forster, Tom Thomson, and D.J. MacLennan have since joined the practice, which will soon be opening an office in Glasgow.
Established in 1987 by Rab and Denise Bennetts, Bennetts Associates has a long-standing reputation for high-quality design and elegant construction. The practice has a diverse and award winning portfolio of projects spanning educational and public buildings, transport infrastructure, rural and urban developments and high profile commercial offices. Key projects include the Visitor Centre at Heathrow Airport, the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Gateway Centre in Balloch and the recently opened Hampstead Theatre in London.
Bennetts Associates' design for Wessex Water's headquarters near Bath was awarded the highest ever Building Research Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating for a commercial office building. A current project near Barnsley is also set to become "the greenest technology park in Britain." Founder Rab Bennetts was named Scottish Architect of the Year in 2001 and was awarded an OBE in 2003 for services to architecture.