Annual Review 2020: our year in review

Despite the challenges of lockdown and the closure of our offices, we have continued to deliver high quality and important work. 

A drawing of a rainbow with chalk on a wooden gate with the words 'Keep well be happy'.

In our Annual Review for 2020, we look at how, despite the challenges of lockdown, we continued to deliver high quality work. In a year where many of us had rediscovered our local areas on our daily walks, we continued to champion Carbon Conscious Places and the delivery of good design across Scotland. 

Our review features highlights from our work across the year, a look at our achievements and stories of our people – how our team responded to lockdown over the year. On this page you will find an overview of the stories featured in the full Annual Review available to download below.

Click on the links below to navigate to the chapters found on this page:

“At the start of 2020 we were looking forward to our usual busy programme of workshops, engagements and events, all while preparing our corporate strategy for the next decade and our contribution to the Venice architecture Biennale. But we all know what happened next.”

Ann Allen, A&DS Chair

Download our 2020 Annual Review

View or download this resource for read more information and stories on the work we've accomplished in 2020.

Designing for a Changing Climate: Creating Carbon Conscious Places

How could we help places reach net zero carbon by 2045? For the past year we have been running a pilot project to learn by doing. Working with four local authorities we helped them progress their spatial plans with a focus on decarbonisation. From this learning we proposed eight principles for Carbon Conscious Places. 

To read more about how we addressed the climate emergency in our work, read our annual review in full here.

Designing for a Changing Climate Event Video from Architecture and Design Scotland on Vimeo.

Engaging with communities during lockdown

Architecture and Design Scotland knows from experience how much better buildings and places are when the people who use them are actively involved in shaping them. But how do you do this during a pandemic?

As well as moving our own engagements and workshops online, this year we shared examples of good practice at our Engaging with communities during lockdown session.  

To learn more about our support, read our annual review in full here.

Improving public space - New Provanmill Bike Lane by Neil Young

Supporting the learning estate in the “new normal”

A key part of our work in the learning estate involves engaging directly with learners and teachers to help improve places for learning and teaching. 2020 has been a challenging year for all and, understandably, our direct work in schools was affected.

When we couldn’t meet face to face, our team needed to look at different ways and opportunities to continue our work with the learning estate.

To learn more about how our support to education spaces and buildings, read our annual review in full here.

Going online to showcase Scotland's student architects

After consulting with the schools of architecture, and our awards partner the RIAS, we decided to go ahead with our annual awards in 2020 – this year the awards process was fully digital. We received a record breaking 96 submissions for the awards.

“Having a body like RIAS and A&DS give such thoughtful comments has made me feel that my values as a designer are not only recognised but encouraged. Whilst interviewing for my Part 1 placement I spoke about the award and I’m sure it helped me to secure a position, especially considering the difficulties we’re facing finding jobs due to Covid-19.”

- Lily Whitehouse, winner of the A&DS Award for Best 3rd Year Student.

The judges, led by the President of the RIAS Christina Gaiger and joined by guest judge Jude Barber, reflected on the strong themes around climate and social sustainability.

To read more about how we showcased new talent in architecture, see our annual review in full here.

A black and white drawing of a floating building seen from below the water
Amphibious by Lily Whitehouse from Glasgow School of Art.

Supporting health infrastructure with design advice

Despite the obvious challenges faced by NHS Scotland this year, our work in Design advice health has been as busy as ever, especially supporting a range of infrastructure projects which were progressed to boost the post-covid recovery.

2020 marks ten years since the introduction of the NHS Scotland Design Assessment Process (NDAP). This process – which we support in conjunction with Health Facilities Scotland - helps Health Boards describe a clear path between the Business Objectives for a project and the necessary qualities of the building development to deliver on these.

Over the past year we have supported 20 projects across 10 health boards through NDAP. The total value of these projects is around £425m. To read more, download our annual review in full here.

Creating sustainable tourism infrastructure

We all love to enjoy the natural and historic heritage of Scotland. However, over the past few years we’ve heard of pressures for tourists and locals alike - particularly at the most popular destinations and routes such as Skye and the North Coast 500.

Working with Visit Scotland and other partners, we helped address these challenges through the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund. Now in its third year it has evolved from a reaction to the worst pressures of increased tourism to one more focused on resilient, sustainable solutions which consider a place-making approach and a more coherent offer to tourists.

To find out more about how we supported sustainable tourism, read our annual review in full here.

A double-height home with metal cladding in the evening light on the Isle of Sky. The sea is visible in the background.
Skye Mobile Micro Home. Image credit: David Barbour

Green recovery - a cross agency approach to building back better

Working together is about sharing insights, shifting mindsets and adding value. While lockdown slowed down many major developments, we continued to collaborate working together across disciplines with our partners.

This year, working with the Key Agencies Group, we unveiled our joint offer to local authorities to support a green recovery in their area. 

To find out more about the green recovery offer, read our annual review in full here.

Place Skills for housing: supporting whole place approach in housing

At the end of 2020 we launched the first Module of its online Skills Project. The first module focussing on taking a whole place approach to locating for place quality in housing.

The Skills resources support local application of the Place Principle and draw on many of our other resources; case studies, work presented at our Local Authority Urban Design Forums and developments we provided advice on.

Providing these skills modules online will allow us to reach authorities across Scotland, and throughout 2021 we will add further modules on briefing and influencing for place quality and develop further online support to help apply the learning. To learn more, read our annual review in full here.

A short video introducing our skills document supporting a place-based approach to housing.
A large group of people sit in deckchairs in an enclosed garden space at night time watching a film

Dispatches from The Happenstance

Published in 2020, the story of The Happenstance unfolds through twelve dispatches. The publications explore the themes and learning from the 2018 Scotland + Venice project the Happenstance.

Each dispatch has a guest writer – from an architecture student to an international journalist – discussing and illustrating a particular theme. You can read more about this project in the Annual Review here.

Image credit: Graham Ross

2020 in numbers

A&DS 2020 Annual Review: in numbers from Architecture and Design Scotland on Vimeo.

Description: The video features an animated look at key statistics from Architecture and Design Scotland’s Annual Review. The video zooms around a screen with small illustrations, featuring key numbers from the year.

It starts with the Architecture and Design Scotland Logo and the words 2020 Highlights.

50: Best Use of Timber Exhibition: 4 projects exhibited, with around 50 people attending the official launch at The Lighthouse.

135 people attended the Public Sector Client Forum on Climate, Health and Place.

7 – we responded to 7 consultations including on the infrastructure investment plan, National Planning Framework 4 and on Vacant and Derelict Land.

455 people signed up to attend our digital launch of Designing for a Changing Climate: Carbon Conscious Places Report

20 Built environment professionals attended our event on design review.

52 professionals representing 22 different local authorities and public bodies attended our Local Authority Urban Design Forum to discuss market-led housing.

120,000 visits to the A&DS website in 2020.

22 Publications on benefits of collaborative design ranging from housing, place standard and green roofs through to event reports and 12 dispatches from The Happenstance – our contribution to the 2018 Biennale di Venezia.

We supported work in 8 local authroities to renew the centres of existing communities, or significantly expand settlements, supporting the creation of new business, public and leisure facilities and over 10,000 homes.

10 – We supported the design of 10 bridges – mostly footbridges – and 55 kilometres of footpaths and cycleways.

4,000 visits to the Materials Library at The Lighthouse n the first three months of the year. Over 16,000 online visits, four student works and two e-CPDs delivered.

1,000 – Over 1,000 new followers of Twitter since the start of 2020.

16 – We sent out 16 newsletters highlighting our work and events, with around 2,000 recipients

2,118 new followers across all social media channels.

Description: Video zooms out to reveal a series of small shapes and illustrations, fading to a logo with the words Architecture and Design Scotland.