A first for Scotland as Highland Housing Fair gets under way (01/02/07)

Scotland’s first housing fair gets under way today (Thursday 1 February 2007) as a unique housing design competition opens for entries.

The Highland Housing Fair is an exciting, ambitious two-year venture to create a housing development in Inverness, showcasing new standards of excellence in modern, sustainable and innovative housing design and technology.

Run under the auspices of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) the competition has a theme of sustainability and is open to all architects, developers, house builders and self-builders. Around 30 winners will be offered the opportunity to build their designs at Balvonie Braes on the outskirts of the Highland capital.

The competition is taking place during 2007, the year Scotland celebrates Highland culture, with the winners announced in June.

An exhibition of the competition entries will be exhibited in Inverness at the RIAS Convention and will form part of the 2007 Six Cities Design Festival, which is being organised by The Lighthouse, Scotland’s National Architecture and Design Centre. The Festival, which celebrates Scottish design and creativity, will see major exhibitions staged between April and August and includes a three-week programme of public events running in all Scotland’s cities between 17 May and 3 June 2007.

The Fair will culminate in the summer of 2009 with the houses built from the winning designs forming the focal point of a month-long public exhibition. At the end of the Fair the houses will be available to buy or rent. 

The project is based on a highly successful model developed in Finland, where housing fairs, held in different communities each year, attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Highland Housing Fair co-ordinator Fiona Porteous said: “The aim of the Fair is to raise the bar for housing in the Highlands, Scotland and further afield by showcasing modern, sustainable and innovative design and technology.

“With the competition now open for entries, everyone involved in the project is looking forward to seeing the designs it inspires and seeing the winning entries built.”

Councillor Ian Ross, chair of the Fair’s steering committee, added: “The Highland Housing Fair is an enormously exciting project and will do much to showcase good practice in the Highlands and also act as a strong and positive stimulus to future sustainable housing development. The Fair will create an exemplar of good practice, setting new standards in sustainable design and construction and leaving a lasting legacy for the community of Balvonie Braes and the Highlands as a whole.”
 
“There is an existing enthusiasm and interest in sustainable buildings in the Highlands and we believe the Fair will help to place the region at the forefront of the development of sustainable housing in the UK and put the Highland capital on the map as a modern, vibrant city. The project is also a fine example of successful partnership working and the sharing and promotion of good design and practice.”
 
Mary Wrenn, Chief Executive of the RIAS, said the organisation was delighted to be running the first competition of its kind in Scotland.

She added: “This is a tremendously exciting venture offering a new way to inspire excellence in sustainable, innovative housing design in Scotland.

“We look forward to receiving designs from everyone who is inspired to enter. It is very fitting that Inverness is the venue for our convention and the announcement of the winners in such an important year for the Highlands and Scotland’s six cities.”

Balvonie Braes, the Highland Housing Fair development, comprising 53 housing units on 27 plots, will be built on a 5.5 hectare site on the southern outskirts of Inverness. The site, close to the A9 main road link between the Highlands and central Scotland, is being purchased by the Highland Housing Alliance. The event will be run by Highland Opportunities.

The Highland Council’s Inverness Area Planning committee this week approved an application for outline planning consent for the site by a vote of 15-3. The decision is now subject to final approval by Scottish Ministers.

The Fair is supported by a consortium of agencies, including: The Highland Council; The Scottish Executive; Highlands and Islands Enterprise; The Forestry Commission; Inverness City Partnership; SUST: The Lighthouse on Sustainability; Six Cities Design Festival; The Royal Incorporation of Architects of Scotland and Inverness Architectural Association.

Details of how to enter the house design competition are available on the RIAS website: www.rias.org.uk

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