Balnacra Arts by Vicky Stonebridge

Housing Expo.

All this month there is ‘Scotlands Housing Expo’ on at Milton, just south of Inverness. 

Its well worth a visit, a fascinating project. Its basically a whole estate of eco showhouses, all completely different styles, designs, ideas. there are huge luxury houses, apartments, social housing, all are going to be incredibly cheap to run, many use ‘passive’ heating systems, that is the structure & design of the building utilizing space light and building materials to collect and retain heat. there is a community green, a play area, narrow cobbled alleys and normal streets. Some houses aren’t finished yet, the whole project had fallen behind. I think we have all become rather cynical about any big project like this in the highlands as it all involves lots of tax payers money and only the usual ‘jobs for the boys’- however I was very surprised to enjoy my two days at the expo, the atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed, was this the training of the staff/ ambassadors in each of the houses or the design of the site?
There were a few houses we fell in love with, gorgeous light and space, clever layouts, huge windows, doors opening into gardens, balconies, multi levels, mezzanines. Many felt like they didn’t belong next to other houses & should have been in a forest or by the beach. Particularly at the bottom of the site. I felt the top end worked much better as a town community, they had walls for privacy, yet opened out to friendly social spaces, looking like they fitted together. There are no prices on the houses yet, as valuers are finding the unusual situation & designs impossible to value. some will be for low rent, others to buy, some are social housing. It will be fascinating to see what the community will be like in a few years time, it will work for sociable friendly people and families, not grumpy rich old couples who complain about children or anyone in a different economic group to them.
Some buildings had a lack of storage space, parking space? why the bathroom next to the front doors? why the large hallway waste of space? Others lovely! office space, studio space, workshop space. Also very annoying were the Albyn housing showhouses, all very modern & energy efficient, no mention of rotting floors, walls, 35 year old heating systems that don’t work etc etc that they are happy to leave us with….
I was there working of course; doing ‘RAGS to RICHES’
In the highland Councils recycling house, Doing recycled craft workshops. I had a steady stream of participants mostly making rag dream-catchers, which all came out brilliantly. Lovely to see grown ups joining in too, often it was grannies helping out and patiently showing the youngsters how to do things which was lovely. Talking to the children its obvious to me how important the eco schools projects are in raising their awareness of ‘Green’ issues. Their craft skills and manual skills experience varies wildly depending on their individual teachers or parents, how to tie basic knots is not a standard.

Now to unload the remaining Rags & Willows from the van and get on preparing for Russia!  van – did I mention we slept over in the van? small van, won’t be doing that again! workshops are best done after some hours of sleep.

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This entry was posted on August 8, 2010 by in Uncategorized.

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