Saturday, 21 August 2010

Highland Housing Fair is a joke

Nord Architecture's burned out cowshed
You know, life is full of disappointments - some great and some minor. I drove across to the Highland Housing Fair the other day, 'Scotland's Housing Expo', to see what the great and the good had produced as examples of our new nation's great residential architectural skills - complete with the sustainability label of course. Boy was I disappointed! I expected something modern and exciting with a taste of the future - a bit of Dan Dare I suppose. Instead I saw a collection of pokey wee pseudo Scottish sheds - more Brigadoon than even Andy Stewart would like. Honestly, they'll be filming the White Heather Club there in a wee while and digging up Harry Lauder to do a turn.

I know a great deal about Scottish architecture as you know and it was very sad indeed to see that hardly any of my favourite designers had bothered to put pen to paper for this event. There were some bright moments though - the ever excellent Keppies have produced a masterstroke with their lovely three-storey home.
Keppies masterstroke design at the Scottish Housing Expo
It is indeed a stately home and makes all the other houses look completely ridiculous. It is a pointer to the future while all the other houses are looking to the past of byres, black houses and butt 'n bens. Here's another wee photie of Keppies work just to make the point.
another view of Keppies masterstroke design at the Scottish Housing Expo
Truly they are one of the greatest design firms around today - famous and accomplished in architecture, masterplanning, landscape and cost cutting. This is work that merits a gold star and a big tick from me.
Bracewell Stirling's bottom drawer production
Also there is a wee building there by a firm I hadn't heard of before called Bracewell Stirling which is modest yet shows great promise. It has the look of a building that was designed some time ago - maybe they pulled it out of a drawer and dusted it down - but this is in fact what most great practices do anyway. So good luck to Bracewell Stirling - your future is bright. And to all the others apart from Keppies - you are hopeless.

PS - I heard this morning that one of the homes has been sold off to a contractor working on the site and that the rest will be sold to local councillors or their relatives at a reduced price. Isn't the Scottish development industry so great.