Urban Realm Volume 11.48

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COP26 leaves as many questions as answers in its wake so we dedicate our winter issue to examining the pledges as they pertain to the built environment in detail. Are they sufficient to avert catastrophe and where are we on the road to a greener future?

In this winter edition of Urban Realm we pay a visit to an outdoor classroom in Argyll to see how a barren hillside could be restored as a temperate rainforest and speak to the Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA) and Timber Design Initiatives to establish what role environmental activism and materials science has to play.

Addressing architects on the front line we ask what the next steps entail in tandem with our exhaustive UR100 profile of the practices who aren’t just talking but delivering a low carbon future.

In addition to reporting on sustainability issues, Urban Realm is playing its role in minimising waste by switching from plastic to paper wrap. Individual responses will differ but the destination is clear, only by knowing where you are going can you hope to arrive.


  • COP26
    Urban Realm reports on the built environment ramifications of COP26, from net-zero school designs to a zero-carbon, circular house design and a bid to retrofit public spaces as offices a new consensus is emerging to wean us off concrete. Can architects learn to be more humble in working with rather than against nature?
  • The Lawns
    We revisit a later-period Gillespie Kidd & Coia halls of residence at the University of Hull, the seed for a photo essay of the practice's work framing a broader discussion of the adaptive re-use of vacant buildings and the challenge of post-Covid education settings.
  • St James Centre
    You've heard all the toilet humour but what's the reality of the largest development witnessed in Edinburgh for a generation? With the most inauspicious launch background imaginable is the centre outdated already?
  • UR100
    The New Year delivers a fresh summary of the state of play in architecture with a look at the projects and practices taking us out of lockdown on a more sustainable footing. We thank and rank with our latest in-depth survey.
  • Cove Park
    A curvilinear timber lattice outdoor classroom in Argyll has the ambitious task of sparking root and branch reform of construction by reseeding a lost temperate rainforest. We look at how timber technology has been stretched to its limits.
  • Esteem House
    Completion of the Esteem House at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, Dubai, marks the culmination of a multi-year odyssey by a student team from Heriot-Watt University. We conclude our coverage with a look at how real-world performance matches up to expectations.
  • SEDA
    Fresh from COP26 Urban TRealm explores the longer-term ramifications for the built environment with the Scottish Ecological Design Association as it helms a series of build, solar and land initiatives designed to turn words into action.

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