Should We Repurpose Existing Amenities To Tackle The Climate Crisis?

A new report by Architecture and Design Scotland recommends the retrofitting of existing structures and the development of brownfield sites first in order to tackle the climate crisis and improve quality of life. But how far will this go to ensure we reach our climate targets?

Where we have current infrastructure, we welcome the proposals set out by Architecture and Design Scotland focusing on retrofitting for our current needs.

To support site decarbonisation, the report suggests that planting should be added to hard infrastructure; structures should be viewed as “material banks” with components that are demountable, rebuildable,  reusable and resaleable; and the cost of the entire life cycle of a structure should be considered – rather than just its initial capital costs.

This is just one of eight “carbon-conscious” place principles outlined in Designing for a Changing Climate. The report suggests that this principle could be achieved by undertaking an audit of existing land and structures to identify what can be utilised.

The report collates the findings and lessons learned during a one-year pilot study, which was supported by the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Division. It considers what changes can be made to tackle the climate crisis and cites examples for communities of various sizes. It also sets out how the principles can be achieved.

The other principles include:

  • A place designed for and with local people: Placing people’s needs at the centre of decision-making, service provision and investment in our places and ensuring that they are actively involved in key stages of the design process.
  • A place-led approach: Understanding, appreciating and working with existing assets, the surrounding landscape and the place identity. Using the right type of intervention, at the right stage, scale and location.
  • A place designed in time: Ensuring the place planning and delivery process considers the dimension of time. This includes creating long-term visions as well as using short-term approaches to test out interventions.
  • A place of small distances: Creating complete and self-sufficient neighbourhoods with everyday/night services and facilities within a short walking or cycling distance (e.g. 15-minute place concept).

[The COVID-19] has brought into focus the need for the local provision of services, improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure and the need for quality open space. The ideas offered in this report align strongly with the emerging thinking of a green recovery following the pandemic. 

Jim MacDonald, Chief Executive of Architecture and Design Scotland

At ethical partnership our work is guided by our values, where we place a strong emphasis on the needs of the local community. We constantly engage with all stakeholders to ensure that our projects provide the best possible outcome for the local community and welcome the recent findings that investing in place post-COVID-19 is a top priority to create the world we need.

As we have recently seen the construction sector showing major signs of recovering following periods of stagnation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope to see an increase in the construction of sustainable and energy-efficient buildings. Of course, where we have current infrastructure, we welcome the proposals set out by Architecture and Design Scotland focusing on retrofitting for our current needs.

As an environmentally conscious organisation, we strive to ensure that our projects consider the biodiversity of the local area. Similarly, we try to maximise green spaces and understand the major role it has on mental health. For more information about the work we do, contact us and find out how we can help with your next planning project.

* indicates required field