Architects for Yes: a manifesto for a better built environment for Scotland
Our built environment is crucial to the wellbeing of the nation’s population. It affects the quality of people’s lives, the best examples providing a sense of community, security and pride and the worst offering only dislocation, isolation, lowered expectations and poorer health outcomes. Architects for Yes believe independence offers us the opportunity to invigorate discussion about the kind of built environment the Scotland of the 21st century needs and wants, a built environment considered not as a commodity to be bought and sold for excessive profit, but one that is responsive to the country’s aspirations towards a more equal and democratic society and which is delivered to the highest international standards of environmental responsibility.
Architects for Yes believe good architecture and design are essential elements in making people’s lives better and that Scotland’s architects can make a positive and significant contribution to the way in which environmental improvement is conceived and manifested and, in doing so, can deliver substantial added value to the nation’s economic and social well-being.
Architects for Yes wish to see to our rural and urban environments improved to the benefit of all Scotland’s citizens. The provision of substantial numbers of new and affordable homes lies at the heart of this ambition to create a new and visibly better Scotland. As architects we frequently see the impacts of inequality and unfairness and understand the effect poor housing and buildings has on too many in our society. We believe the right to good housing should be enshrined in a written constitution and delivered through positive collaboration between communities and the public and private sectors. Community Right to Buy has shown how local empowerment can have an enabling effect on people’s lives, providing the circumstances needed to sustain and enrich local economies throughout Scotland. It is not the only tool we have to deliver societal and economic benefit.
Architects for Yes recognise that a better built environment in Scotland will not be achieved through new and higher quality housing alone: the design of our schools and healthcare facilities has a profound effect on people’s lives: done well these resources can improve the wellbeing and vitality of the nation but done badly they become a drain on the country’s economy and an impediment to people achieving their full potential. These are public resources that demand wider consideration of their value to society than simply that of lowest economic denominator: for good reasons we do not buy and sell our schools and hospitals and consequently their design should be focused upon providing a better environment for learning and improved health rather than be conceived purely in response to financial imperatives.
Architects for Yes believe the nation’s economic wellbeing is strongly dependent upon the quality of environment that people work within. Nowadays much of this economy is service sector focused, but too many of the buildings used for this purpose are energy hungry and poor in internal environmental quality. Poor quality workspace design is inefficient and not conducive to employee satisfaction or productivity. Architects for Yes believe an independent Scotland can look beyond conventional building types to different forms of architecture that are fully integrated with the country’s renewables strategy: well constructed and insulated low carbon buildings that in their daily use produce considerable levels of heat that can be transformed into power and exported into the grid for wider community benefit. This existing, deliverable technology can ensure our commercial environment becomes a producer rather than a consumer of energy and allows us to reconceive our workspaces to better and more humane effect.
Architects for Yes also believe that rethinking the way we construct our built environment can provide a significant contribution to the re-industrialisation of Scotland: new approaches to building design will require alternative materials and products and the development of both can bring fresh stimulus to our manufacturing sector. These new paradigms can In turn support an export strategy that, led by architectural services, can take our manufacturing and construction sectors into new international markets.
Architects for Yes believe Scotland’s rich resource of architectural talent can provide much of the vision and energy needed to create the better built environment envisaged here but the opportunity to deliver it requires the country to have full control over its own decision making, fiscal arrangements, resources and welfare system. Only independence can provide us with these essential components.