Students design innovative social housing

Prof. Gokay Deveci, Fiona Martin, Rachel Brown and Andrew Stewart with one of their proposals for social housing
Prof. Gokay Deveci, Fiona Martin, Rachel Brown and Andrew Stewart with one of their proposals for social housing

Architecture students at Robert Gordon University have presented Aberdeenshire Council with their ideas to improve social housing in three North-east towns, as part of a research project.

Fifth year students Fiona Martin, Rachel Brown and Andrew Stewart each won summer studentships to work with RGU professor Gokay Deveci over the summer, through the university’s Innovation, Design and Sustainability (IDEAS) research institute.

Focusing on practice-based research in housing design quality, the group was set the challenge of coming up with suggestions for social housing in Inverurie, Ballater and Fraserburgh.

Under Professor Deveci’s supervision, the students first studied existing housing and compiled an initial report, which included interviews with tenants, before presenting their findings to the council.

They then worked on proposals which took account of some of the shortcomings which had been highlighted in the report, such as the amount of space, energy efficiency and community interaction.

Prof. Deveci, who has been at the forefront of sustainable low-energy house design for more than a decade, explained: “I thought the students needed a real client to demonstrate the constraints that can affect a project such as planning, cost and social and cultural issues and it is entirely relevant that they understand the difficulty and complex issues involved.

The students presented their ideas to four council representatives, including Housing Manager (Strategy) Janelle Clark and Housing Officer Angela Keith, and the local authority is now looking into how they can be incorporated into plans for developing the sites.

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Councillor Peter Argyle, said: “The council is always striving to ensure we are keeping up-to-date in using the most sustainable and efficient technologies in the design and construction of our properties, and listening to the ideas of students who are in the process of being trained is a great way to do that.

“I am glad we have been able to provide a realistic project experience for the students and wish them the best of luck in the future.”