Find out the latest guidance and information about the impact of COVID-19 on the University.

COVID-19: Advice for Staff, Students and Community

RGU architecture students help build a sustainable future in South Uist

Wednesday 11 August 2021

Image of South Uist
Architects from The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture are working with islanders from South Uist to map out a sustainable future for the island.

The project aligns with the ambitions of the Island Growth deal announced in March 2021, which secured £100 million funding from the UK and Scottish Governments in March, to boost jobs, infrastructure, transport and tourism in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.  

The group of Master’s students from RGU’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment, is working with the Outer Hebridean community, to explore the challenges of island life and to find, social, cultural and economic opportunities as part of a project founded on the themes of ‘Place, Craft and Community’.

The team, in collaboration with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) and other bodies including NatureScot, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and community groups, is developing a series of research-informed design propositions that contribute to the future sustainability of the South Uist community in the context of significant and change.

Professor Karen Anderson, who is leading the project, explains more: “The Outer Hebrides has ambitions to develop community sustainability and we are working with islanders to help them achieve this.    One of the main findings of our study so far, has been the high level of self-sufficiency amongst islanders and their ability to endure a challenging landscape despite the increasing challenges of climate change, depopulation and access to services.

“Our overall ambition is to produce high quality architectural designs that will add real value to island life. We want to embrace craft in the community's development and build up resilience, creativity and culture. Key proposals that we are suggesting include a marine research and agricultural laboratory, new social housing models, community and tourism-orientated facilities, and an insect farm!"

Local Councillor Iain Archie MacNeil said: "It has been very interesting seeing this project develop over the last year. The students have come up with a wide range of proposals and have been very creative in their designs, whilst demonstrating a good awareness of the landscape and culture of South Uist.

“I am particularly pleased to see that a number of students have focused on social housing projects, as housing is a key priority for the area. I look forward to seeing how these projects take shape in the coming year, and hope that in the future there might be opportunities for these innovative housing ideas to help shape the work of the Uist and Barra Housing Group.”

Head of The Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment, Professor, David McClean adds; "Creating sustainable living in the Western Isles supports The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture's social ethos to work with communities to deliver tangible projects that support the vary fabric of social life.   RGU already has strong connections with islanders in the Orkney Isles through a range of collaborative projects and we hope to engage with the Western Isles in similar ways.  In certain respects, island contexts such as this reflect wider global phenomena and challenges in microcosm, thus allowing macro issues to be explored through a very particular set of conditions."

The first phase of the project continues over the next year at the end of which it is hoped that the work will be exhibited on the islands as well as in Aberdeen.

Cookie Consent