Board Blogs: We need to nurture and look after what we have – Sue Evans

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In a series of blogs members of the A&DS Board explain what attracted them to join the A&DS Board, their policy priorities and what they wish their secret built environment super power would be. Here Sue Evans, a landscape architect and head of development at the Central Scotland Green Network Trust and A&DS Board member, gives her reflections of being a part of Architecture and Design Scotland.

What inspires you day to day about being a board member of A&DS? Is there anything that frustrates you?

Sue Evans: The inspiration for me, and I firmly believe my fellow board members, comes from the belief in our mission and purpose. There is increasing awareness that living and working in good buildings and places has a profoundly positive impact on our wellbeing – economically, environmentally and socially and, importantly, individually. The start of this process is about wise procurement and good design. We are working hard to get this message out and our staff are fantastic advocates.

One of the frustrations is around the lag between emerging good policies and practice and seeing this play out ‘on the ground’. This is because complex developments can be many years in the making.

What things/activities has being a board member of A&DS enabled you to get involved with?

We need to have an oversight of the main elements of running the organisation and the key areas of activity. There are opportunities for us to play active roles in both areas. For example, I have been working with other members on board recruitment and I have also been involved with staff seeing how they offer guidance, advice and support to various projects through our Design Forum process.

From your perspective, what are the best projects or activities A&DS has done? Why?

How long can I make my reply?

The work on health and education seems to be a game changer; by encouraging design-thinking at the very start of the project inception process we are helping commissioners to procure better buildings by engaging with users early on and by understanding that well-considered client briefs can save time and money at the construction stage and create successfully buildings and places that are adaptable and maintainable.

A&DS has been a key player in the development of the Place Standard. This has just been recognised at the RTPI Awards in London.

And I have to mention the wonderful Stalled Spaces Scotland work which has culminated in a really great toolkit to encourage communities across Scotland to tackle an unloved building or space near them.

What future work is A&DS involved in that particularly interests you and why is it important?

Dear to my heart as our new agenda on empowerment – this is all about getting people involved in design, development, delivery and management. Management is terribly overlooked just now: we invest huge sums in capital works, which then are not looked after so we need to rebuild. We need to break this cycle, so that we can nurture and look after what we have; this is far more sustainable and much less disruptive for all of us. Wouldn’t it good to create buildings and places that become the future generation’s inheritance and not their liability?

If you could make built environment policy … what one issue would you tackle first?

As a Landscape Architect, it would have to be something to do with greening – so firstly a requirement for all new build flat roofs to be a mix of green (as in living) and renewable energy generation. Then something to encourage the planting and management of more urban street trees.

What built environment super power would you like to have?

The power to turn unloved and uncared for urban open space into multi-functional and delightful green and blue space so that everyone can enjoy living in a ‘leafy suburb’ and not just the well off.

Place Standard: Housing in Shetland

A&DS helped Hjaltland Housing Association and Shetland Islands Council prepare for the development of Shetland’s largest housing site at Staneyhill.

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