Home is more than a shelter.


It is not just the place we live, but has a huge influence on how we live.

It can help shape our health and wellbeing, as well as our work and prosperity. 

Our homes have impacts on the quality of our place, the resilience of our communities and the sustainability of our environment and our planet.


Present Voices Future Lives
Housing to 2040 Exhibition 2019

How we live

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to live in a different way in our homes and to live more locally.  Alongside the challenges of the pandemic, this different way of living has highlighted the potential to engage more positively with our local areas; creating a better work/life balance, improving long-term health and wellbeing and helping to tackle climate challenges. 

This re-imagining of how we live can be better supported with the right design, types and quality of homes and careful of where they are located and their connections to local services, amenities and infrastructure.

Housing to 2040 Vision

Housing to 2040 is the Scottish Government's vision for housing in Scotland. It aims to deliver our ambition for everyone to have a safe, good quality and affordable home that meets their needs in the place they want to be

Access Housing to 2040 here

Present Voices Future Lives Housing to 2040 Exhibition

The travelling exhibition was developed to support engagement with children and young people and local communities across Scotland on the vision and principles of Housing to 2040, commissioned jointly in 2019, by the Scottish Government and Architecture and Design Scotland.

Access the final report here

Present Voices Future Lives' Films

At each of the 12 locations the Present Voices Future Lives Exhibition travelled to, a film was made to capture the character of the place, its context for housing and the lived experience of the local people. The series of 12 films were created based on interviews with members of the communities, selected to present a diverse range of perspectives and to reflect the issues and challenges relevant to different places.

Watch all 12 films

Housing and Place

Town Centre Living

Bringing new homes into our city areas and town centres through repurposing historic buildings and other underused or vacant buildings, as well as building new in gap sites, and on vacant and derelict land will not only help to improve the physical fabric of the cities, towns and local centres, but also help to rebalance land and building uses where retail or other uses have become less viable. 

Town centre living can help people get to shops and services quickly and easily, by foot, bicycle or public transport.

A growing residential population in such centres supports local shops and businesses and sustains local services and economy, bringing renewed vibrancy into the vital hearts of communities and preserving heritage and historic assets.   

Young people in Galashiels

In 2019, Present Voices Future Lives Exhibition travelled to Galashiels, and met the young people from Galashiels Academy to talk about their experience living in a town where there is community spirit and neighbourliness, but require more facilities and amenities, especially for younger people.

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Suburbs are residential areas outside the city centre, which may administratively be part of the city or be separated by open countryside from the city. 

Older suburbs which are within a city’s urban areas can be of relatively high density with terraced housing and tenements which may or may not have direct access to private or shared gardens although tend to enjoy access to local public parks within walking distance. 

Housing in the suburbs on the fringes of the city tend to be of lower density with typologies such as bungalows, semi-detached and detached houses or smaller scale flatted blocks.  Private front and back gardens are typical to these housing typologies and flatted blocks tend to be provided with access to communal gardens. 

Living in suburbs can be an attractive choice, especially for young families looking for more affordable, larger properties with private gardens, and easy access to the countryside, but the ease of access to work, schools, services and facilities are necessary considerations to ensure the provision of good public transport connectivity, active travel routes, local shops and easy access to greenspaces and play opportunities to minimise private car-dependency.

New towns

Scotland has a history of new town development which includes Inveraray, New Lanark and Edinburgh’s New Town.  After WWI, cities expanded while deliberately including green space, inspired by the Garden City movement.

After WWII, East Kilbride (1949), Glenrothes (1948), Cumbernauld (1956), Livingston (1962) and Irvine (1966) were constructed by New Town Corporations to improve the lives of people living overcrowded in cities. They were meant to be independent settlements, sustaining local employment and businesses.

More recently, new towns, such as Tornagrain, are again being considered as a way of providing more homes for Scotland’s growing population.

Experience of a New Town

Irvine’s dual existence as a historic market town originating in the 12th/13th centuries and its status as a 20th century Scottish New Town. A planner who grew up in Irvine reflecting on the need to recognise some of the New Town’s successes rather than just seeing the problems, which are more often being highlighted.

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Rural and Islands

Most of the landmass in Scotland is rural and almost one in five people live in rural areas. Every rural or island community has its own story which is reflected in the design and location of the houses.  A few new homes can make a big difference to a rural community, helping to keep a local service or business viable. 

The Scottish rural and islands areas have experienced depopulation over time, the lack of job opportunities for young people and the lack of access to affordable housing on some islands have resulted in young people leaving the islands and difficulty in attracting key workers into the communities.

The opportunities and challenges in rural and islands settings are different from those in the urban settlements.  It is important to recognise that place-based approach in delivering new homes and services and infrastructure enhancement is crucial in rural and islands settings.  Local people’s lived experience of what works and what are needed will help to shape how rural communities can live well locally.

Housing to 2040 includes the commitment to seek actions to encourage repopulation of the rural and island areas so to ensure these rural, remote and island communities are resilient, sustainable and can continue to thrive.

An Island's Perspective on housing, community and natural environment

A local resident highlights Orkney’s affordable housing challenges, as well as the concern about the risks posed by climate change, particularly the threat of erosion and the potential loss of historic monuments and sites of national significance.

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A local housing professional's thoughts...

When Present Voices Future Lives Exhibition visited Rothesay, a local housing professional shared his thoughts on issues around continued depopulation and increased ageing population on the island and the island’s reliance on seasonal economy. Similar problems are believed to be shared by other island communities.

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Housing Quality

What we want from our homes and what we need in our new homes are changing.  In designing new homes, considerations are to be given to how to respond to a possible future which will see changes in the way we live in our homes – including the advance in technology; the increase in remote working; the evolution of the home into a multi-functional space catering for a much greater range of our daily activities and the growth of local centres as a focus for our daily lives.

The demography of Scottish populations is also changing; with people aged 65 and over now outnumbering people under the age of 16.  With an older population, there is also an increase in single-person households.

New homes that are designed to be adaptable, with flexibility for changes be made in time to meet our changing needs due to lifestyle or life circumstances will ensure people can live in their homes and within their communities for as long as they wish to be.  This will also help foster strong and sustainable communities across Scotland.

Housing for life

During the Present Voices Future Lives Exhibition in 2019, an Edinburgh resident with visual impairment shared her experience about the importance of housing to be able to adapt and change with peoples’ changing lives and circumstances, particularly as they grow older and potentially encounter mobility / disability issues.

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Retrofit and Repurpose

According to the latest National Records of Scotland’s data, there were 2.65 million dwellings in Scotland in 2020.

Retrofitting existing homes to achieve higher energy and ventilation performance and converting to running our homes using greener energy sources will make them more comfortable to live in and more efficient to run.   This can help to reduce emission, transitioning to lower carbon or net-zero carbon society.

The Scottish Government is committed to invest at least £1.8 billion over this Parliament in decarbonising homes and buildings – with the aim of converting at least 1 million homes and the equivalent of 50,000 non‑domestic buildings to low or zero‑emission heating by 2030.

Where there is a lack of private outdoor spaces within existing housing developments, considerations are to be given to how to improve access to outdoor spaces in the neighbourhood and to seek opportunities to create communal and accessible green spaces locally so people can enjoy the outdoors and children can play safely.

The links are clear between the provision of high-quality housing and improvements in health and wellbeing, reduction in inequalities, contributing to economic growth and tackling the climate emergency.

Tenement and Terraces

Living in a flat or tenement is the most common form of housing in Scotland.  Almost three quarters of Glaswegians live in a flat, much more than for comparable cities in England.

Tenements house lots of people on relatively little land.  They are usually served with communal shared gardens to the rear, traditionally used as drying greens.  In Glasgow, they were originally built to provide high density housing for the large number of people immigrating to the city in the 19th and early 20th century as a result of the Industrial Revolution, whereas Edinburgh tenements are much older, dating from the 17th century onwards.  Flats in tenement buildings are now desirable places to live due to their locations, often large rooms, high ceilings and period features; although many of these blocks were also demolished in the 60s and 70s because of slum conditions, overcrowding and poor maintenance.

Terraces also form an important part of our towns and cities and take many forms including townhouses, but are typically individual houses with uniform frontage, joined together in a row and built to front a street.  They generally have front and back gardens; some have both front and back doors whilst others are built back to back, separated by the boundary wall or fence at the bottom of the back garden.

Colony housing

Originally built in Edinburgh, for the skilled working classes, has developed into a unique housing type made up of independent ground and upper flats, both have their own front door and access to a private garden.  They are very desirable family housing in high density areas.

The modern interpretation of this typology of housing provides good alternatives for families who choose to live in the cities instead of the suburbs, but still can enjoy access to a private garden of their own.

High rise

Scottish Government’s High Rise Inventory Summary Report in 2020 records a total of 46,530 flats in high rise buildings in Scotland.  Most of them were built in the 1960s with newer developments built in the 2000s. 

Many of the 60s tower blocks were demolished due to the difficulties to upgrade them and keep them well maintained.  The ones that remain have mostly been refurbished to improve their physical conditions, energy efficiency and surrounding environment.

Since the late 90s and early noughties, high-rise housing has seen a resurgence, as historic problems associated with keeping them well-maintained and secure have become better addressed.  Owning a high-rise home has become more desirable.  Now investors are funding new high-rises and other forms of high density urban development for renters. These developments and investment models are more commonly known as build to rent and have been focused in cities and urban areas where there is demand from a high proportion of more mobile residents such as young professionals and students, as well as older people down-sizing, looking to live where they have easy access to services and life style experiences.

Whether it is about affordability or choice, this type of homes offer an alternative way of living in a smaller space.  They are typically smaller apartments but with additional shared areas, such as common lounges, laundry facilities and gardens. There is usually somebody appointed to manage the shared spaces and common facilities.

Rural Housing

Over the last 20 years, there has been a renaissance in rural housing design, building new homes that are affordable, fit their surroundings and can cope with the Scottish weather.

The challenges including accessibility and availability of land for building homes in rural and island locations have also led to innovations in the design and construction of new homes including the use of off-site manufacturing in some instances, which also support local businesses, local enterprise and job creation for young people locally.

Affordable Housing Challenges in a Rural Context

Issues relating to second homes, short-term lets, ageing demographics and the difficulty of retaining young people in the community, faced by rural and island communities were heard during the Present Voices Future Lives Exhibition. Rural Design, an architectural practice based on Skye explores innovative solutions for more affordable land and design of prefabricated affordable housing that is made locally, thus more sustainable and supports local economy.

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Design for Net Zero

Our Environment

Homes we live in form a big part of our built environment and house building shares a significant proportion of our construction industry.  Climate statistics show that 40% of global emissions is in the built environment.

Housing has a vital role to play in Scotland’s transitioning to a net zero economy.  The design of our homes, the materials used, how well they are built, how they are heated and ventilated – all matters.   Adopting different and more efficient ways of constructing our new homes, such as through modern methods of construction, including off-site manufacturing can help to support this transition.

Net Zero Emission

The Scottish Government is committed to achieving net zero emission by 2045.  As part of this route map, it is aiming that all new homes delivered by local authorities and registered social landlords should be of zero emissions by 2026. 

To do this, it is crucial to ensure our new homes are fit for the future and are of the right quality; are energy and resource efficient; support healthy living; with sufficient spatial flexibility for need and comfort; and are suitably adaptable to meet the occupiers changing needs and life circumstances.

Having a climate-conscious approach embedded in the delivery of future housing is necessary towards achieving Scotland’s ambition in tackling climate emergency. 

Sustainability - The Urban Challenges

A young resident in Dundee discussing the challenges of achieving sustainability in cities, the importance of good public transport, the opportunities to repurpose empty buildings. She talks about the disparities of wealth in Dundee, homelessness and the need for more affordable housing.

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Sustainability in Rural Communities

In Ullapool, a local resident talks about the importance of well-designed and energy-efficient homes contributing to tackling climate emergency and the importance of jobs to attract and retain young people to stay in their communities.

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Housing Delivery

In Scotland, a large proportion of new housing is provided by the private sector, accounting for around 70% all homes; the remainder 30% are affordable housing delivered by housing associations and local authorities.

Around 20,000 new build homes are completed annually across all sectors in the recent years, although the latest housing statistics update shows a 28% decrease, with 15,852 homes completed in the year to end September 2020.  This was mainly due to activity levels being affected by the pandemic lockdown measures.

The Scottish Government is committed to delivering 110,000 affordable homes across Scotland by 2032, with at least 70% in the social rented sector and 10% in the remote, rural and island communities.

New Builds

In planning for new housing, we need to consider where we build them, how they relate to / integrate with existing settlements, and how these homes collectively support the creation of distinctive and successful neighbourhoods with easy access to services and amenities, green spaces, play opportunities and active travel networks; where people of all ages and families can enjoy living in and thrive. 


Regeneration brings back people and communities, shops and businesses to create a vibrant neighbourhood.  Successful regeneration involves identifying what is already good about a place and how to make more use of it.  It pays attention to what is special about the people, the place and the community and focuses on making positive, lasting change.

In Scotland, there is a strong focus on involving communities and asking people to say what they want from regeneration of their area.  Local people know best what would make the biggest difference to their lives. Involving them is important. It is important that regeneration is designed with sustainability in mind, in social, environmental and economic terms, as well as to ensure a good quality of life for people who live and work in the area.

Self-provided Homes

Building homes in volume for market sales can be complemented by other forms of housing delivery, such as self-provided homes, and through different tenures for renting and shared ownerships to provide choice in accordance to individuals’ affordability and aspirations. 

Self-provided housing allows people to shape their new home to their requirements.  Whether building the home themselves or working closely with a developer to design and build their home, people can choose their plot, the design and customisation and the extent of their involvement with the construction.  Building homes in this way is often cheaper than buying an equivalent new or existing home. 

Although they are much more common in many continental European countries, self provided homes have a long tradition in Scotland, particularly in rural and island areas.  They are encouraged through Scottish Government’s Planning Reform programme, with local authorities required to maintain a list of people who are interested in procuring their home in this way and to actively seek out land opportunities in preparing local development plans.

The different approaches to housing delivery can create unique homes, more diverse places, with distinctive characters and unique sense of identity and richness across Scotland.

Housing, Place, Greenspaces

The Chair of a local community council in Inverness shared her hope and aspirations as the city grows – the importance of high quality housing and greenspaces, and community involvement in greenspace initiatives, including allotments and social hubs etc.

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“We all need somewhere to live. And we all want to live somewhere we can call home – which is affordable, warm, meets our needs and is in a thriving community we want to be part of, near the services we rely on.”

Housing to 2040, March 2021

My Ideal Home (Place)

The Present Voices Future Lives Exhibition travelled to Fort William, and listened to local primary school children talking about Fort William’s natural surroundings, an ideal place to grow up and their aspirations for their future homes.

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Housing and Community

A local resident in Peterhead reflects on the changes experienced in the town overtime, immigration and integration, wealth disparity, the importance of civic pride and how community based initiatives can help achieve. She sees the town needs more social and community-based housing to attract young people to live and work locally, rather than just as a place for commuter housing for people working in Aberdeen.

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Housing and Community


Co-housing is a way of living that started in Denmark in the 1970s to help families look after children together and cut the cost of childcare. It offers residents their own home while bringing individuals and families together in groups to share common activities such as eating or working together.

People are also encouraged to get together for fun and relaxation and this is good for mental health and helps them to feel like they belong. It can also encourage healthier attitudes to cooking and eating. 

Group housing models such as co-housing and intergenerational housing can provide older people with an alternative to institutional living and support a caring culture that enhances the sense of belonging and stewardship in a place.

Supported Housing

Supported housing can be any form of housing, either individual house / flat or a group living arrangement where there is an appropriate level of support is provided to help the residents with day to day living and thus, is suitable for vulnerable people or people with particular support need.

A combination of the right home and support services helps those who live in supported housing to live independently.  Supported housing can take the form of hostels, sheltered housing and care homes.

Demand for this type of housing is growing because people are living longer and more people are living alone.  Supported housing can help people with dementia or those who need extra care at the end of their lives, although residents in supported housing do not always have health problems.


Scottish Travellers, Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies are some of the communities known as ‘Gypsy-Travellers’.  These groups hold distinct traditions and speak different languages.  Gypsy-Traveller people might live on the road, on a permanent Gypsy-Traveller site, or in permanent housing.  Some have a caravan to travel in summer.

Sites can have chalet accommodation or pitches with facilities.  It is important to recognise that the design of and the provision on individual accommodation sites meet the needs of the travelling communities. 

In the latest Programme for Government, Scottish Government have introduced a new £20 million Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Fund, supporting local authorities to establish model sites.

Big City Perspective on Growth

The Present Voices Future Lives Exhibition travelled to Glasgow and listened to a big city’s perspective on the city’s growth and the disparities experienced in different areas of Glasgow. The film highlights itinerant form of living of the showground community in inner city Glasgow.

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