Test of Time Exhibition, Saltire Society, Scottish Homes

The Test of Time Exhibition, Scotland – 2007

Scottish Housing in the 20th-21st centuries

The Test of Time Exhibition Scotland

Scotland’s prize-winning housing 1937-2007

The purpose of The Test Of Time is to provide an insight into the changing qualities of housing in Scotland over the past seventy years. A central component of the exhibition will be interviews with residents of award-winning schemes throughout the past seven decades. These interviews will be set against a backdrop of contextual material explaining; housing policy, patterns of house building, the locations of development, the changing character of domestic life. It will also provide material that gives a strong sense of what the architects, planners and clients hoped to achieve through their designs and whether the occupants feel if these lived up to expectations.

The Test Of Time will be accessible and engaging and should appeal to anyone interested in their own home, housing design and the history of modern housing. It will include a range of information, from film interviews to original Saltire submission panels. The exhibition aims to provoke public discussion about contemporary approaches to urban and housing design by highlighting good practice and illustrating the relationship between current approaches and previous design solutions.

The Saltire Society & Housing Design Awards
The Test of Time is being organised by the Saltire Society to coincide with the Saltire Housing Design Awards 70th anniversary. The Saltire Society was established in 1936 to conserve and promote all aspects of Scottish cultural life and to help to recapture ‘Scotland’s position at the centre of European civilisation’. The founders were strongly influenced by the work of Sir Patrick Geddes. Under the leadership of Robert Hurd, the Society established an award for housing design – the first in the UK. Hurd believed that buildings in Scotland should reflect the particular character of the Scottish environment. Since 1937, with the exception of the war years, the Saltire Housing Award has continued, adapting along the way to reflect the changing patterns of public investment and economic activity, home ownership and planning policy. The Saltire Housing Design Awards panel is made up of practising architects, planners, housing providers and commentators. Over the years some of Scotland’s most accomplished architects, including Robert Hurd, Hugh Wilson, Alan Reiach and Robert Matthew, have sat on the housing panel.

Our homes hold an increasingly central part in the organisation of our private, and public, lives. It is fascinating to see how over the decades, social and individual attitudes to housing have changed. Over the last three generations we have seen the expansion of public housing, the development of the New Towns, the rise and fall of the tower block, the Right to Buy, the rediscovery of the tenement, the housing stock transfers, inner city loft living and the growth of the private suburban housing scheme. We are all very familiar with the stories about the happy tenants moving out of Victorian slums into high rise deck access blocks, only to discover a few years later that the ‘streets in the sky’ have their own problems. The character of what we consider to be ‘good homes’ shifts with each generation and its expectations.

Proposed Exhibition Content
Film footage of interviews with the occupants of the Saltire Award-winning projects. One project has been selected to represent the key concerns of each decade.
In each section there will be scale floor plan and photographs (from the RCAHMS) and data about the house including cost of construction, government subsidy etc. There will also be a short written introduction explaining why this particular building was important to that decade.
Data on each chosen house identifying: Location, House type, Ownership, Contextual material on housing policy, Figures on homes ownership and occupancy levels.
There will also be information about debates that took place within Saltire at the time and any original material from the National Library Archives and a record of and photographs of Saltire panel members.
There will also be record of any Saltire award winners that have been demolished or identified as a failures built during that decade.
An example of labour saving device/ important consumer items of the decade, eg.
1940 Vacuum cleaner/ electric cookers
1950s fridges/ telephones/ electric razors/ private cars
1960s twin tub washing machine/ central heating/ fitted carpets/ power tools
1970s freezers/ automatic washing machines
1980s microwaves/ food processors/ fitted kitchens
1990s PC and satellite TV
2000s Broadband/ mobile phone

Other material
A series of interviews with former Saltire panellists and housing experts addressing the issues of changing expectations and aspirations and the issue of whether they think they are any strong lessons to be learnt from their experience.

Footage from BBC on housing in Scotland over the past 60 years

These films could be exhibited separately or merged into one single film.

The exhibition will be launched at the Lighthouse in Autumn 2007 and will tour to three other venues in Scotland either before or after this date. Venues need to be identified. The exhibition will be designed with shipping in mind. Portability will not prevent the use of original material, but not all of the exhibition showings will necessary include the material on show at the Lighthouse.

We plan to produce a modest catalogue to accompany the material in the show.

Marketing and promotion
We intend to promote the Exhibition at all of its venues to ensure maximum attendance. We intend to discuss with the BBC and STV about the possibility of making a programme to accompany the exhibition.
Initial Anticipated Budget (to be confirmed) £’s
Project management and sponsorship 3,000
Research, text and proofing 3,000
Exhibition design and graphics fees and expenses 6,000
Exhibition graphics production 3,000
Exhibition production and AV 12,000
Film 10,000
Catalogue 8,000
Promotion and marketing 2,000

TOTAL £47, 000

Although the exhibition production budget is in three parts – build, graphics and image production – the weighting of the costs may shift depending on overall design concept.

Proposed Schedule
The exhibition will be at the Lighthouse in September or October 2007. We aim to complete the exhibition in May in order that we can launch at other venues earlier.

Fundraising and venue search August 2006
Design interviews September 2006
Approve exhibition design concept October 2006
Exhibition design development January 2007
Exhibition text proofed and edited January 2007
Exhibition production February 2007
Install & Preview March /April 2007
First Venue May 2007

Images courtesy of RCAHMS and Saltire Society

Location: Scotland

Architecture in Scotland

Scottish Architecture Designs – chronological list

Scottish Building News

Scottish Housing

Saltire Housing Design Awards

Scottish Architecture – Selection

Stirling Tolbooth
Stirling Tolbooth

Eden Theatre Extension, Inverness
Eden Court Theatre

Scottish Architect

Comments / photos for the Saltire Society Exhibition page welcome

Visit Scotland