Housing to 2040 - Present Voices, Future Lives: final report

A final report summarising and describing the responses gathered from children, young people and communities on Housing to 2040 as part of the travelling housing exhibition 'Present Voices, Future Lives' that toured twelve rural, urban and island locations across Scotland in 2019.

1. Executive Summary

'Present Voices Future Lives' exhibition was designed, curated and toured by a multi-disciplinary team from Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) at the University of Edinburgh, award winning Scottish Architecture Practice Collective Architecture and Peak 15 Design along with Chris Leslie Productions and Gaia Research. This was commissioned by Architecture and Design Scotland and the Scottish Government to engage people from across Scotland on the draft vision and principles for Housing to 2040.[1]

The Scottish Government has committed to plan together with stakeholders for how our homes and communities should look and feel in 2040, and the options and choices to get there. The exhibition provided a place for conversations on Housing to 2040 and involved 350 young people from 12 communities across Scotland. Over 750 people viewed the exhibition with almost 400 participating in workshops. The majority of workshop participants were young people aged 11 to 17 taking part within their schools.

'Present Voices Future Lives' was an exhibition with workshop sessions designed to promote conversation about how we live now, and what we want our homes and communities to be like in 2040. The aim was to gather views from the public to help inform the Scottish Government's Housing to 2040 vision and route map, which was under consultation from December 2019 until February 2020. The views are collated in this report.

Design Concept

There were two main narrative elements to the exhibition. The first element of the exhibition presented the 'challenges' we face as a society in Scotland in relation to how and where we live and providing homes for future generations. These were based on careful and critical research, and with reference to Scottish Government's Housing to 2040 draft vision and principles. The challenges were arranged into four main 'Themes' – Live Build, Live Grow, Live Learn and Live Share. The second element of the exhibition was information on 'How We Live' which presented an overview of forms of housing from across Scotland and existing, new and emerging ways of living.

The exhibition was designed to engage with a wide range of audience and the public using a flexible, accessible and engaging format. The exhibition was designed to be assembled in 12 stacks of four cubes. The modular form of the exhibition meant it could be assembled in a wide range of community spaces and school halls.

The most significant challenges appear to be an ageing population and the Climate Emergency, but the exhibition covered a broad range of issues for housing and communities.

Programme of Activities

The exhibition visited 12 locations across Scotland representing cities, towns, rural and island communities. In each place the exhibition was set up in a school or community hall. Workshop sessions were run with groups of young people and the exhibition was opened to the public in the evening.

The workshops provided a structured approach to a conversation about existing homes, housing and communities and views on Housing to 2040. Participants were asked to think about the housing they live in now, and where they would like to live by 2040. They also were asked about the most important challenges facing housing in the place where they lived. The 'Place Standard Tool'[2] adapted for young people captured views on local communities, and the 'Home of the Future', and 'Community Mapping' exercises explored the homes and communities of the future.

In each location a film was produced exploring challenges for housing in the local area voiced by individuals from the community. These short films provide a narrative to some of the context of housing and how we live across the country and complement the views expressed by young people through the workshops.

Key Findings and Recommendations

Data gathered from the workshops drew out the challenges around housing and communities found in each location the exhibition visited. The key concerns of all participants in relation to their housing and ways of living was the Environment as reflected through the global climate emergency. This concern was closely followed by the challenge of maintaining the well-being of the Scottish population through the design of 'healthy places'. Thirdly, younger participants were concerned about changing patterns of working and the effect of new technologies on the supply of jobs, particularly those not living in cities. The following recommendations emerged from analysis of the exhibition workshops:

  • New housing to be designed to be energy efficient and preferably 'zero-carbon' with materials obtained from sustainable sources and to be locally sourced where possible.
  • Existing housing stock to be upgraded to meet a higher standard of energy efficiency.
  • New housing developments to be designed with community based sustainable urban drainage systems.
  • All homes to be built with easy access to nature; either a garden, roof gardens or access to suitable community owned green space.
  • More opportunities for 'Custom Self-Build'. Community participation in the design and generation of new housing development and schemes of regeneration.
  • Take a longitudinal view of Housing to 2040 by evolving iterative programme of local housing events, occurring every three years up to 2040 to incorporate the needs and desires of people of all ages in relation to the provision of housing and sustainable communities in 21st century Scotland.


Email: Housing2040@gov.scot

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