Balloch: Covid, cycling + the climate crisis.
Whilst designing the retreat and performance hall space, with their own investigatory alleys, I wanted to explore additional ideas through this project. We are slowly emerging into a post-Covid future. One where the role of the Architect needs to be conscious, not only to design spaces with good ventilation to minimise future pandemics, but spaces that aid our collective need to tackle the climate crisis, or at least find solutions to adapt to it.
Holistically, I designed the site to be accessed and adventured via the use of bicycles as the primary mode of transportation, through traffic-free cycle paths within the whole site and also from Glasgow to Balloch. For many of these kids, getting out of Glasgow into the countryside isn’t a normality. To make this journey in a bus or car would simply be a journey wasted (as well as being terrible for the site’s carbon footprint). To cycle is to truly interact with nature. To feel the land move beneath your feet. A recent sustrans study showed that for every 1KM cycled= £0.42 saved by not using a car (overall cost to individual and society). Therefore the journey to Balloch itself, 33km would save £13.86 per person per journey.
Environmentally, the performance hall sits on the River Leven; as such an inquiry into rising water-levels solutions. Designed on a floating composite foundation of concrete and polystyrene, the performance hall moves with the water line. The future of architectural design will have to take into account, not only the next 10 years, but the next 100. Over 40% of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of the coast; rising sea-levels will affect all of us in some way and floating architecture is a way to adapt to it.
Good ventilation and circulation is key to protecting against another pandemic. An atmosphere of seamless and easy intermingling, whilst taking into account elements of social-distancing and circulation, was crucial to the interior spaces. Interior courtyards, exterior kitchen gardens and outdoor congregational spaces were designed. All necessary to avoid disease spread whilst simultaneously allowing the kids of Sistema Scotland to socialise and take pleasure in the outdoors.
A post-Covid future is one we are able to set the parameters to. To design spaces that aid good ventilation and outdoor convivial courtyards to socialise in. Infrastructure that deters cars and roads, instead opting for bikes and pathways. Sites that are built to sustain and adapt to the future of the climate crisis, whatever that may be. Holistically, an Architecture that works harmoniously with the land and bio-diversity, as well as with the people who inhabit it.