DECADE : Housing – I don’t live in a house, I live in a community

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In 2015 A&DS celebrated 10 years and following a series of 10 events on 10 key topics a publication of reflections was published at the end on 2015. Throughout 2016 – the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – we will -re-publish extracts from the publication on each topic. This blog looks at housing – under the heading Housing – I don’t live in a house, I live in a community. 

Scotland has a focus to deliver better outcomes, address fairness and equality, empower citizen engagement and participatory processes, manage public service delivery in a time of constrained finances and create opportunity for all through a flourishing society. The big challenges of the day point to ‘new ways of doing’ with public, private and third-sector partnerships uniting across different agendas to make a tangible difference to people’s lives. The delivery of housing and infrastructure is an integral part of enabling positive change.

Over the past decade, a housing story mostly rooted in numbers (for example, build rates and need-versus-demand analysis) has become increasingly wider ranging and inclusive. The emphasis has shifted from ‘house’ to ‘home’, stronger links between housing and wellbeing have been recognised and it’s now understood that single land use zonings hinder the creation of vibrant communities.

Important though the considerations are, it is no longer sufficient to narrowly describe housing provision in terms of providing ‘a roof over the head’ or delivering target numbers. Housing provision is now more correctly understood to represent a long-term place investment that supports broader aims and life chances, for example, better health and wellbeing, social cohesion and a reduction in the segregation between the poor and better off. And these strong themes were apparent in the DECADE presentations and discussion.

Along with NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government, A&DS has been developing the Place Standard which is helping to develop and promote this understanding and inform practical action.

Scotland today faces challenge and change. Housing has an important role in supporting the progression towards a wealthier, fairer country. Investment in housing is essential, but this is no longer about delivering mere unit value; it is key to building place value that supports better lives and stronger communities.

Eric Dawson, A&DS

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