The idea of the importance of the temporary as a tool of conservation was introduced to the office. Studies undertaken as part of the Masters of Architectural Conservation at The University of Edinburgh, determined that the introduction of a temporary use into vacant buildings led to improved building condition in over 75% of cases. Moreover there was evidence to show that through temporary activity jobs were created, crime was reduced and there was a tangible sense of community benefit so much so that English Heritage and Historic Scotland now acknowledge temporary use as a conservation investment tool.
The new Community Empowerment (Scotland) bill, extends that leverage further enabling communities to adopt buildings which are being underutilised. The lessons of such strategies are varied, crucially the need to indeed truly engage with the local community, start small, be realistic, adopt a reversible technique, share expertise and make sure spaces have the potential to ‘multi-task’.
The City and Land team asked if this thinking could be applied to the spaces between buildings to similar good effect. Inverting the Noli plan of the city from depicting the buildings as solid to spaces being solid allowed us to focus on this idea of temporary transformations into these unbuilt spaces. A variety of contributions emerged – from the zany, a cling film structure, the completely imaginary in a Glasgow ‘sunset boulevard’ to the healthy unhealthiness of a 5 a-side pitch, burger bar and pub in a New York style 24hr ‘sport trade bar’.
There was method in this exploration. The 2016 Festival of Architecture sponsored by the RIAS together with the chapters around Scotland are exploring a programme of innovative projects and events – perhaps the notion of the temporary could be explored as part of our contribution.