What does a sustainable community look like?
For any community, there is an ambition to support people through their lives. The pathways available to the youth, families and older people in a place influence how this unfolds. In Scotland, where the ambition is to create places where all can flourish, sustainable communities form a framework to deliver these pathways, social, economic, cultural and environmental. People matter, place matters. Design matters because it is a vehicle to help facilitate place based outcomes for people.
Achieving outcomes requires a place view of contexts, assets and capacities. A whole place view allows an understanding of how influences affecting a community [policy and politics, economics and finance, people mobility] can be linked to the assets of a community [people, physical environment, identity and culture] to shape imaginative, place based solutions. These solutions enable a variety of values and opportunities to be created. Just like the ‘learning town’, where the whole town can be seen as a resource to deliver lifelong learning to all citizens, a variety of creative, outcome focused solutions can emerge from real engagement with people and place. The key challenge is to engage with the authentic story of the place through participation, and deliver through collaboration.
Participation and collaboration are central to the both the culture of how decisions are made in Scotland, and an effective way of guiding sustainable change. They enable opportunities to be shaped to mutual benefit. Participation and collaboration hold the key to joined up working, focusing not so much on the economies of scale as the economies of benefit. This thinking informs how we manage change in our built environment, public space and civic life.
As part of work into the future of mixed and sustainable communities, A+DS worked with the Scottish Futures Forum and Architecture 00 on a scenarios project for Scotland. The output of this work is captured in a short film [above] and a report which is available here . In broad terms, the scenarios are summarised as follows:
Scenario 1 is an exploration in standing still : resulting in a lack of strategic investment, eroding infrastructure, and increased pressures on the public domain. Scotland will have to learn to ‘make do and mend’ in tandem with a reduced ability to utilise its renewable energy resources and investment vehicles. This results in a
Scenario 2 is based on a collective opportunities scenario: a proactive and progressive governance model at a Scotland-wide level would provide the scale of governance and capacity to address long-term challenges and manage the nation’s assets, such as its potential energy generation market. Scotland has the opportunity to harness both its international trade and collective investment priorities under a collective Scottish identity for shared prosperity. This combination of a spirit of mutualism and a sovereign wealth fund could enable investment in all-electric transport modes, a smart grid, and attract foreign talent and compact communities.
Scenario 3 is based on the principle of modern clans – local 2:0. In this scenario power is devolved to local communities, with local 2.0 leadership and innovation driving change from the bottom up. Community spirit and community collectivisation of resources lead to solutions like housing coops, collective transport arrangements, and a strong role for volunteering. Promoting a local 2.0 way of living and doing could result in increased well-being levels, attracting the Scottish diaspora back to its diverse towns and villages of origin.
The scenarios work links into work A+DS are doing on Mixed and Sustainable Communities with the Scottish Centre for Regeneration. This work aims to inform a better understanding of the role of place in enabling people’s lives, and enabling sustainable change at local level. Over the coming months, we plan to develop a discussion around these issues, facilitated by the Scottish Centre for Regeneration, particularly in terms of these key questions:
What are the conditions to enable creative local social and economic ecologies?
How do you manage the process of change which sustains these ecologies?
What is the role of the built environment in enabling this type of place to establish, in enabling this type of sustainable community to succeed?