Social housing in Leith claims top Saltire Society design award

Social housing in Leith claims top Saltire Society design award

A social housing development in Leith scooped the prestigious Saltire medal and the top housing design award at the 2018 Saltire Society Housing Design Awards in Edinburgh yesterday.

Leith Fort, which consists of 94 new-build residential units and a communal green space, was praised as a “superbly executed development the respects the special history and character of Leith while creating homes that match the needs of those who live in them”.

Broadcaster Allan Little, guest chair, added: “At a time when there is a crying need for more social housing and affordable private housing in the Scottish capital, Leith Fort is an inspiring example of what is possible on a limited budget: homes that are affordable, generously proportioned, and in a spacious urban setting that is designed to promote neighbourliness, community and a sense of ownership, belonging and local pride among the residents.”

Allan Little presented the awards last night alongside Housing Minister Kevin Stewart. The winners were:

  • Due West, Lunga Estate Architect: Cameron Webster Architects An exquisite home against a cliff close to Craobh Haven that immerses the visitor in magnificent views out over the west coast. Built off two rocks, it combines ambitious engineering with a beautiful and precise resolution of the building at every scale. Due West is an exceptional project in combining a real feeling for drama with the sense of being a much-loved home.
  • Millbuies House, Edinburgh Architect: Cameron Webster Architects An exceptional transformation of a post war modernist house into a beautifully composed, contemporary home. By virtue of a bold yet straightforward strategy to cover its existing courtyard, the building opens out into a series of spacious, light and well-proportioned rooms. Impeccably finished, it is truly transformational yet remembers to remind us of its original qualities.
  • The Coach House, Falkirk Architect: thatstudio Chartered Architects Ltd A home modest in size but with great ambition and an exemplar as how to build appropriately in the grounds of substantial Victorian villas. Two sliding window walls open out to the courtyard and completely convinces in its intention to blur boundaries between inside and outside. It has a sense of spaciousness that belies its compact footprint. Beautifully designed and constructed, this is an exceptional contribution to Falkirk’s built environment.
  • Inclusive Family Home, Edinburgh Architect: Chambers McMillan Architects A nondescript semi-detached bungalow in Edinburgh, renewed and recast to accommodate the special needs of a family member. A new extension opens out to the garden; it feels generous and dispels any sense of the institutional. The commitment and expertise of the architects along with the enthusiasm of the client create an exceptional project that leverages a modest budget to produce a truly inclusive home.
  • Claddens House, Lenzie Architect: John Gilbert Architects A house that is exceptional in delivering integrated sustainable design in Scotland. Conceived as a Passive House to exacting standards of energy conservation, it also addresses with great rigour the ecological choices to be made in building materials and finishes. With elements of self-build, the relationship between client, contractor and architect are mutually collaborative and supportive. It is robust but carefully detailed and shows elegance, strength and depth in its design.
  • Powis Place, Aberdeen A student residence in Aberdeen that has a confident and sophisticated presence on a challenging corner site at the edge of the city centre. Its residents enjoy outside space both in a protected courtyard and a penthouse terrace with expansive views. This is an exceptional project demonstrating how commoditised housing built to a budget can be a significant work of architecture.
  • Leith Fort, Edinburgh Architect: Collective Architecture An exceptional project that regenerates a historic site in Edinburgh with a mix of mid-market and social rent housing. A legible and straightforward masterplan is sophisticated and elegant in its execution. The individual apartments are distinctive and generous. Leith Fort works sensitively in its historic context and connects well with surrounding streets. It is an outstanding development that encourages in so many ways a sense of community and belonging.
  • Receiving commendations from the judges were:

    • Westside, Pentlands Architect: Gray, Marshall and Associates: A rural home that sustains its household. It revisits the traditional Scots longhouse and adapts it for homeworking and a rental annexe for tourists. Upstairs is open to the roof that gives their rooms a sense of spaciousness. Westside co-exists well in its Borders setting with an unadorned yet elegant utility. It is a compelling example of how well-designed housing contributes to an economically active countryside.
    • Parkview, Dundee Architect: Page/Park Architects A housing development in the western suburbs of Dundee with expansive views south across the Tay. An existing reform school is refurbished and extended with care, accompanied by a series of new build apartments. Their gable ends face the street with an entirely appropriate scale and presence. This is an exemplar development that knows its market well and rewards them with a building generous in both space and specification.
    • Fortune Place, Edinbugh Architect Smith Scott Mullan Associates Housing in southern Edinburgh for older people that has a strong and confident presence to the street. Individual apartments are well designed that lead to generous communal facilities organised around courtyard gardens. Fortune Place is exemplary for its successful and coherent resolution at a both human and urban scale.
    • Innovation Awards Commendations:

      Highly Commended:

      • Countesswells Phase 1, Aberdeen Archiect Optimised Environments Ltd (OPEN) In order for Scotland to build more housing, increasingly planners are releasing large scale housing land. However, large sites require large infrastructure commitments that need large scale funds at the start of the project which is often a barrier to effective development. At Countesswells the commitment to front end investment has been achieved by a dedicated investment company to be responsible for the master planning, infrastructure, landscape and services leaving house builders to concentrate on building houses. This project unlocked funding barriers by having the support of Aberdeen City Council to enable Countesswells to obtain a UK Government HM Treasury loan guarantee that provides lenders with the confidence to fund infrastructure. This Treasury loan guarantee was the first to be made available for housing purposes.
      • Commended:

        • Linkwood View, Elgin Architect:Kraft Architecture An increasing ageing population brings challenges for us to have the right type of housing and care support for older people. This extra care housing project has developed a form of independent living that caters for a range of care needs and provides independent living within a social interactive setting. The project demonstrated how a collaborative partnership can meet people’s care needs by employing the skills, experiences and resources of a private developer, Springfield Properties, Hanover Housing Association and Health and Social Care Moray. While this extra care development meets the needs of older people it is open to those across the age spectrum. It is particularly pleasing to see the benefits of an inter-generational approach where younger and older people live successfully in the same place.
        • Commenting on this year’s awards, Allan Little said: “I have been struck by how much effort is being made, in the building of new houses in Scotland, to blend contemporary technologies, materials and styles with the existing character of the environment - rural properties that chime with and respect the landscape; urban developments that place contemporary designs harmoniously in a historically created context, while creating houses that meet contemporary needs. These are houses that above all look to the future, but at the same time respect the historical and aesthetic context in which they are built. We have seen a great diversity - innovative, creative, and inspiring.”

          David Jamieson, convener of the Awards Panel, said: “These awards winners demonstrate two things: firstly that in Scotland we are capable of building some of the best affordable housing in the world, and secondly that we have a culture of building exquisite one-off houses often with limited budgets and which is sustaining a tradition of craftsmanship in building construction. There is a healthy tendency to use low carbon materials, particularly timber in construction combined with innovative thinking on how building can be environmentally responsible.”

          Sarah Mason, programme director of the Saltire Society, said: “The Saltire Housing Design Awards are a special moment in the Saltire’s calendar, being the first Awards established by the Society in 1937. The Awards not only promote the importance of good design and housing for all, but have evolved to help to honour and encourage creativity, excellence and innovation in modern Scottish place making.

          “As ever I have been impressed by the design, innovation and attention to detail that is present in the projects celebrated and am particularly pleased at the exceptional examples of social multiple housing developments, which resonate with the reasons these awards were established. The judge’s final decisions on the overall winners were particularly hard to make and were only made after much debate and discussion, which is testament to the calibre of architectural talent in Scotland today.”

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