Supporting Scottish Climate Week
Earlier this year, we published our ‘Climate Charter.’ Our charter talks about how we, as a Practice actively pursue a sustainable design agenda and how climate sensitivity and its protection has been at the heart of our Practice since its inception. What is crucial though, is how we apply this charter and the principles within it to our projects. Given this week is Scottish Climate Week and with global climate change conference COP 26 taking place in Glasgow in just over a year, we thought we’d look at how, using some of our work in Scotland as an example, we bring our climate protection principles to life.
From an urban infrastructure perspective, there’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the speed that we need to transform and adapt our cities to our new ways of living and working. It has shown us that big changes can happen quickly and it has given us ‘living consultation’ opportunities to test out different ways of moving around our cities, placing people, not cars at their heart. The increased focus on improving access to green space, on making our streets more people focused to encourage more walking and cycling and on reducing air pollution is entirely in line with the ambitious Glasgow Avenues project that we are working on.
We lead the multi-disciplinary design team for Block A of this transformative project. A key focus is to help the city be more climate resilient. To achieve this, the design looks at wholly integrated water, landscape and movement treatment on a very large scale. Green infrastructure is being used to structure and order the street, changing the behaviour of motorists and prioritising pedestrians, whilst also providing habitat for biodiversity. Sustainble Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) are a key feature using a combination of materials to combine and meet the technical requirements of water management and control, while creating space for cyclists and space for ground floor businesses to colonise and positively occupy the street. We are also working with the University of Strathclyde on our rain garden pilot schemes so we can gather research into the water samples and outputs from the test raingarden cells.
As well as the Avenues, we are working on the ‘Woodside Making Places’ project which is an initiative that seeks to deliver opportunities to enhance the street environments in the Woodside areas, providing increased opportunities for safe, active travel and enhancing climate resilience, particularly through the use of retrofit SuDS design. There will be more news on this scheme in the near future.
On the structural side of the Practice, we talk in our ‘Climate Charter’ about how important it is from both a climate and historical perspective to, wherever possible, taking a balanced approach, look at how we can use our buildings differently and breathe new life into them. Many of our derelict commercial buildings have higher imposed loading levels which enable them to be transformed into residential buildings. The current debate as we emerge from the pandemic about how much office space businesses will really need in the future means we also need to be creative about marrying the old with the new, re-using not just using. A great example of breathing new life into a distinctive building has been the extension and restoration of the Sentinel Building in Glasgow City Centre. This challenging, structural project saw us work on all aspects from the feasibility assessment, through to complex temporary works and review to enable the next chapter in this building’s life to begin.