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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Scotland has historically been known as suffering from some of the worst housing in the Western world. Before the industrial revolution, Early Modern Edinburgh was one of the most densely populated cities on the planet, famous for its highrise closes. This contributed to its horrendous disease problem, with a major outbreak of plague in 1645 killing tens of thousands.

Even by the early 18th century, Edinburgh was recognised as having "the worst housing in Europe" (see Lythe & Butt, An Economic History of Scotland, p.93 and R.H.Campbell, Scotland since 1707, p.15). Visitors to Scotland in the late 1700s and early 1800s remarked on the near iron-age conditions in the Highlands where people often lived in thatch-roofed blackhouses, without doors, shared with animals and choked with smoke, and they made frequent references to the poverty there.

Of course every European country had its poor rural areas and other great capitals were, as today, home to some of the poorest people in the country as well as the richest. But it was still surprising to many visitors that the bad parts of Scotland were at least no better than the bad parts of France, Spain or Germany. We were after all a country which was at that time the centre of the intellectual world, a place where not only Edinburgh but even the meanest Highland village was home to many educated people, both men and women, and which was also the most advanced country on the planet in technological terms (along with other parts of the UK) due to the industrial revolution.

Things were better in the Lowlands outside of the capital: "[Glasgow] is generally well built, with a great many excellent houses which are all aligned and built on an almost regular plan - apparently without the proprietors being obliged by the burgh to conform," said Alexandre La Rochefoucauld in 1786, and Charles Nodier described the city as "la ville la mieux bâtie de l’Europe" (the best built city in Europe) in the early 1800s.

Of course, that was soon to change. The tenements of late 19th century Glasgow need no introduction, with their single ends and massive overcrowding and cholera outbreaks. They were among the worst slums in the UK, alongside those of Manchester, London and Dublin, and as we all know the 19th century slums in places like Govan and the Gorbals were among the last in Britain to be demolished, only to be replaced with shoddily built council housing in places like Drumchapel and Easterhouse, and the largest number of tower blocks per capita in Europe from the '60s onward. I'm personally not aware of many other cities outside the developing world which have had to demolish thousands of housing units which were in many cases built less than 50 years ago.


TL;DR Housing in Scotland was often in a shocking state throughout our history, which contributed to severe social problems and shocked visitors from other countries. But there were some notable exceptions. The future looks a lot brighter but lessons must be learned or the same mistakes will be made.

Anyway, we now have a new generation of housing being built in Scotland, and I would like to discuss it: whether it represents an improvement, what could be done to improve it further, and what the inspirations are from other parts of the world.

Here's a gallery of some of the better examples of new housing I found in various parts of the country:

Aviemore: Pretty basic, but I like two things - they are traditional in style, and they are brightly coloured. Far too much housing in Scotland has a drab grey or brown colour scheme, and I think colour really does brighten up your day in the darkness of the Winter months. Even the streetlights are brightly coloured! It's not uncommon to see brightly coloured houses these days, e.g. Tobermory and many other tourist villages, but it's nice to see colour being incorporated into new builds like this.
https://www.google.com/maps/@57.203...m4!1e1!3m2!1slku8nTW8kz_FvCl6tnzEWA!2e0?hl=en

Aberdeen: This apartment block blends really well with the older buildings on the street. The wooden window frames are a nice touch. A nondescript building that doesn't add anything but also doesn't detract.
https://www.google.com/maps/@57.144...m4!1e1!3m2!1soRtnCBpy3lqYgI2-lL1Jsw!2e0?hl=en

Glasgow: Not sure what I think about this. It follows the recent blue and white colour scheme, which is better than grey or brown, and those south-facing balconies must get a lot of use in this weather. The lack of balconies was one of the biggest problems with many of the old tower blocks: they give you a place to dry your clothes and have a few pots, or just get some fresh air. It made a huge difference to me when I moved from a big apartment block without a balcony to one with one. But these flats often end up looking pretty grimy after a few years and they come across as a bit soulless.
https://www.google.com/maps/@55.889...m4!1e1!3m2!1sEJGNVjF8zHZanJmXyI1-2Q!2e0?hl=en

Glasgow: These flats in Laurieston are great. I've seen similar stuff in London and other English cities and the grey colour isn't ideal, but they look sleek and modern without being too soulless and they have all that natural light, so I'd happily live there.
https://www.google.com/maps/@55.849...m4!1e1!3m2!1s5vKfJBf4aJnZL2Katj95BQ!2e0?hl=en

Glasgow: I believe this was the film location for the house in The Replacement (BBC drama set in Glasgow)? A lot of new architecture in Glasgow is incorporating red sandstone. I wish it was a bit less 'abstract', but they're still nice looking houses.
https://www.google.com/maps/@55.878...m4!1e1!3m2!1sToq6NA54LXvLCemPGNAxNw!2e0?hl=en


That's all for the moment. I'm interested to see what examples of the best of new Scottish housing, and the worst, you can come up with, particularly social housing which went so badly wrong in the past.
 

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Glasgow: I believe this was the film location for the house in The Replacement (BBC drama set in Glasgow)? A lot of new architecture in Glasgow is incorporating red sandstone. I wish it was a bit less 'abstract', but they're still nice looking houses.
https://www.google.com/maps/@55.878...m4!1e1!3m2!1sToq6NA54LXvLCemPGNAxNw!2e0?hl=en
I think that was filmed at this location: https://www.google.com/maps/@55.869...SGVY2C1Yee10hU2qmnQQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

I like these flats in Govan with the coloured boxes projecting from them.

https://www.google.com/maps/@55.863...LUXdUBUfG5IOFrMX6X7w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en
 

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Never been to Galashiels. This isn't world-beating architecture either, but it looks to be of decent density and from the description responds well to its surroundings. On stilts too which I'd imagine is response to potential flooding. Maybe too much parking though, could do something to make the immediate surroundings less sterile.



 

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I know it's fashionable to be nostalgic for all things 80s, but for housing too?


 
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