National identity

Posted in houses

Following an election, one question is always at the back of my mind; what does it mean for our towns and cities?

Usually it means nothing, zip, nada. I have found that pretty much regardless of who is in power, the same disregard for our built environment is evident. Of course, this is understandable as hospitals are more important than streets, schools more important than architecture.

But, and it is an important ‘but’, if we are to start thinking of ourselves as a small nation, in the image of other small European nations, we need to take our cities seriously as they are important tourism resources and can attract businesses and visitors alike.

My hope of an SNP government is that they allow space for architects to experiment without being constrained by the current traditionalism embedded in planning law. My fear is that the nationalist fervour will translate into some sort of hyper scottishism where every building must have a pitched roof of slate with at least one timber panel.

Scotland has historically been an inventive, outward looking country not afraid to try something just because it’s new. We have an opportunity now to become more than a scene from a shortbread tin or a historical theme-park.

So, if anyone from the new Scottish government is listening, please give architecture, design and creativity some thought; civilisations are judged by the art and culture they leave behind.

Room architects

1 Comment

  1. Ryan
    May 26, 2011

    I’m a bit late in on this but I’ve only just discovered your blog and this post is particularly interesting.

    A few months back a friend of my other half applied to Aberdeen City Council to build a new home, a modern prefab German design. The council rejected it on the grounds that it was too high compared to surrounding homes. He went back to them with plans to lower it to the required height by digging it into the ground (I’m not an architect so I’m not sure if there’s a technical term), they refused it on other points. In his next attempt he found an alternative design from the same German company but more “traditional” looking. They refused this because it didn’t have X amount of granite and whatever else they could find to prevent him creating a modern home.

    He’s since given up and put an offer in on a house elsewhere.

    Sad times.