David MacDonald: Well-designed buildings have the power to change lives

In November 2017, Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries, designed by Edinburgh-based Richard Murphy Architects and delivered through a unique joint venture partnership between the public and private sector called '˜hub', was crowned Best Building in Scotland by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

The hub programme is an innovative approach to develop and deliver best-value community facilities, like Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries, crowned Best Building in Scotland last year

What should also be celebrated is, the company set up to build and deliver the new library (hub East Central) only started business little over five years ago.

hub East Central is one of a network of five Scottish hub companies established to deliver new community facilities, such as schools and health centres more effectively. It, along with the four other hub companies – hub North, hub West, hub South East and hub South West – are managed by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), a government-owned infrastructure delivery company.

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The hub programme is an innovative approach to develop and deliver best-value community facilities which provides public bodies with a quick and efficient way of getting their projects into construction which allows for improved services to be delivered to their communities.

David MacDonald, hub programme director at the Scottish Futures Trust

The hub initiative follows a partnership approach where all Scotland’s councils, health boards and blue light services have come together across five geographical territories and appointed private sector infrastructure firms on a long-term basis to build and manage community projects on their behalf.

Since becoming fully operational in 2012, the five hub companies have completed over 142 community buildings (valued at over £1.3bn), with many of them receiving highly coveted design, community benefit and healthcare awards.

And with a further 67 buildings, valued at £1.3bn in construction or in development, this is providing an economic stimulus across Scotland with most of the work being undertaken by SMEs which is supporting over 6,000 local jobs.

The importance of good design, such as that of the Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries, cannot be underestimated as it leaves a lasting legacy within communities as the functional design helps support the delivery of improved public services, which is a core function of SFT’s work and the hub programme.

David MacDonald, hub programme director at the Scottish Futures Trust

This ethos is also reflected in the recently opened “Reference Design” Health and Care Centre in Eastwood, East Renfrewshire, which during 2017 received an award at the Scottish Design Awards, a RIAS award and a prestigious design award at the European Healthcare Awards.

The Eastwood Health and Care Centre has brought together the services of East Renfrewshire Council and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde into one, unique, community-focused building.

This joint occupancy allows the community to access multiple services in one location in a central setting with easy access to GP practices, integrated health and social care services, a community hub facility and a cafe that serves as a focal point for both the community and professionals alike. The Reference Design was developed and promoted by SFT as a new approach to improve future health centres across Scotland.

In relation to education projects, most of the 116 schools in the Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme, again managed by SFT, are being delivered by hub companies.

Schools built within this programme aren’t schools in the traditional sense. They are schools for the future, driven by advances in new teaching methods, technology and a focus to make these large, multi-million infrastructure projects achieve great value.

And in achieving great value it’s not just pupils and teachers who are reaping the benefits of these first-class facilities. So too are communities. Following in the steps of the SFT Schools Pilot which was set up to help councils achieve more for their money, the number of councils opening up the doors of their new schools for local communities to use and enjoy has increased greatly. Libraries, swimming pools, sports halls, fitness areas, meeting spaces and IT suites are just a selection of the new facilities the public now has access to far beyond the traditional school day.

Well-designed buildings, built for community use, have the power to transform lives. Through our hub programme, new schools and community buildings are doing just that – creating employment, helping the environment while providing locals with much-improved places for them to learn, visit or work.

David MacDonald, hub programme director at the Scottish Futures Trust