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Six Keynote Debates on the Future of Scotland's Built Environment

GLASGOW.- The Lighthouse, Scotland’s national Architecture and Design Centre, today launched a series of keynote debates aimed at stimulating broad discussion and driving real improvements to the nation’s built environment. The six debates, organised in association with A+DS and sponsored by the Urban Regeneration Companies, bring together leading architects, policy-makers and influential voices to address six of the most vital areas of current concern including health, education, housing and sustainable communities.

Announcing the Future Scotland Debates, which open at The Lighthouse on 30 April with Public Spaces, Executive Director of The Lighthouse, Nick Barley, said:

“With a vibrant architecture community, pathfinder Urban Regeneration Companies sharing knowledge and experience, an established, formal Policy on Architecture and the forthcoming democratisation of the planning system we are well placed to deliver a built environment that is fit for purpose. “

“Our aim with these six Future Scotland debates is simple, to engage the people of Scotland, policy-makers, building commissioners and the architecture and design professions in an active dialogue about how we deliver this and, in these challenging economic times, what our priorities should be. ”

What sort of housing do we need in the 21st century, and in the light of the current credit crunch how do we ensure the right quality and quantity of homes? How can we ensure that our schools are designed to offer the best possible learning environment for our children? What kind of buildings do we need to improve health in Scotland? How do we create truly sustainable communities? What kind of public spaces do we want in our towns and cities? What skills do we need and how do we harness both developing technology and Scottish innovation to deliver a quality built environment? These will be among the questions at the forefront of the debates.

“The Lighthouse offers a unique interface between the public, the architecture and design professions and local and national policy makers,” continues Barley. “The driving force behind the debates is a desire to engage all parties in a meaningful dialogue that will help shape the future of buildings and communities. The decisions we are taking today will make an impact of Scotland’s development over the next 20 – 30 years and it is therefore vital that everyone should have the chance to contribute to the debate.”

A forum on the Lighthouse website goes live today to enable people to contribute questions and comments ahead of each debate and these will then form a key part of the discussions.

“The Urban Regeneration Companies are in the vanguard of delivering quality buildings in Scotland and offer examplar developments in each of the areas we will be addressing. We are therefore delighted that the six URCs are joining us in this programme as sponsors of the debates.”

Among the speakers signed up for the debates are leading architects Alison Brooks, Peter Clegg, Malcolm Fraser, Eelco Hooftman, Gareth Hoskins, Paul Monaghan and David Page; the Chief Executive of Clydebank Re-built, Eleanor McAllister; Raymond Young of A+DS; Frank Crawford of HIME, Kier Bloomer of the Curriculum For Excellence and Hugh Barton of the World Health Organisation. Outspoken commentator Wayne Hemingway opens the debate on Housing, Germaine Greer will throw down the gauntlet at the debate on sustainable communities - an event to be held in the Chamber at the Scottish Parliament as part of the 2009 Festival of Politics - and Features Editor of The Architects Journal, the home of British Architecture, launches the programme by kick staring the debate on public spaces. Debates will be chaired, amongst others, by journalist and broadcaster, Lesley Riddoch, Associate Editor of The Herald, Alf Young and Andrew Mickel of Homes For Scotland. For full details of dates, speakers and subjects see Notes for Editors.

The inaugural discussion, sponsored by the Irvine Bay Regeneration Company, takes of the issue of public space. Rory Olcayto Features Editor of the Architects Journal which is partnering The Lighthouse in the debates will throw down the gauntlet on the delivery of quality public spaces with David Page of Page/Park Architects and Eelco Hooftman of GROSS. MAX. Landscape Architects challenged to respond. The event will be chaired by Brian Evans, Deputy Chair of Architecture + Design Scotland.

Patrick Wiggins, Chief Executive of Irvine Bay Regeneration Company, said: ‘We are delighted to be joining with the lighthouse and the other Scottish URCs to sponsor this important series of debates. The role and quality of public spaces in our Town Centres is extremely important for us. We want to create vibrant, attractive town centres where people want live, visit and invest in – it is a critical component in our regeneration plans. We have just started on site with Phase 1 of the Kilwinning Main Street improvement scheme, designed in consultation with the local community and businesses which will create a new public space and improve access to the historic Kilwinning Abbey. We hope the ideas stimulated through this debate will help us, and others, in the design and delivery of future public realm projects. ‘

Set up in 2006, Irvine Bay Regeneration Company is one of Scotland's second-generation urban regeneration companies. Its boundaries enclose an area of outstanding natural beauty spanning 14 miles of sandy coastline, the four seaside towns of Irvine, Stevenston, Saltcoats and Ardrossan and the abbey town of Kilwinning. It is the largest URC in terms of land mass covering over 35 square miles. Its key objective is to shape the creation of the physical conditions and local infrastructure that will lead to the successful regeneration of Irvine Bay with activities focused on:

Generating new employment through providing modern business property to attract and retain new business; improving the five town centres to attract new and diverse businesses through increasing a demand for them; improving the physical and built environment and further enhancing open and public places; providing quality sustainable homes for local people and new residents; maximising the outstanding natural coastal assets and leisure facilities, and developing a clear role for the area within the wider Glasgow city-region

Irvine Bay URC is currently leading two major projects in the realm of Public Space – the Kilwinning town centre development, which is opening up key assets in the area including the historic Abbey, and the 14-mile coastal path providing quality walkways from Ardrossan to Irvine.

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