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Fairfield Estate, Perth

Regeneration of one of the most deprived housing developments in Scotland.


This case study describes phase 3 (of 7) of a 15-year regeneration of one of the most deprived housing developments in Scotland. In this regeneration, a holistic approach to sustainability led to the establishment of the housing co-operative that carried out the work and set the design agenda for the work itself.

Work included insulation, timber treatment, aesthetic improvements and landscaping.


The main features of the refurbishment were insulation, timber preservation, aesthetic improvements and external landscaping. The aim of the project was to reduce fuel poverty and regenerate a deprived housing scheme.

Insulation has been added to the tenement properties as follows:

  • Wall insulation: 100mm rockwool (added internally to all external walls)
  • Roof insulation: 200mm rockwool


Electrical heating was specified to minimise capital and maintenance costs. This was felt to be justifiable given the small amount of heating required and the potential option of using alternative renewable sources of energy to supply the electricity in the future (see Fairfield Housing Co-op).

By increasing the amount of ventilation in the roof space, chemical timber preservative treatment has been avoided. This has treated the cause of the problem rather than the symptom which is the rot itself. Timber preservation consultants carried out an extensive rot survey before recommending this measure.

A major feature of the rehabilitation of the whole estate was external landscaping and planting. Indigenous tree species, together with deep beech hedging and other defensive planting has resulted in a significantly more sheltered micro-climate which helps to reduce energy costs as well as creating a high quality amenity space providing cleaner, fresher air.

The aesthetic of the properties has been improved cost effectively by repainting the exterior walls.


Sustainable design measures should result in multiple benefits. For example:

  • The role of landscaping can improve insulation and and improving development amenities;
  • Strong resident participation engenders committed support for sustainable measures;
  • Refurbishment is inherently environmentally friendly in terms of material consumption;
  • Sustainable design should not focus solely on building fabric and services. Social and economic strands of sustainability are equally important.

All anticipated costs for the refurbishment were contained with an agreed budget. Although there are additional maintenance costs associated with the soft landscaping, these have been minimised using easy to care for planting, and justified on grounds of quality of space and health and well being. Redundant chimneys were either removed to reduce maintenance costs or re-used for ventilation purposes.


The tenants’ committee of Fairfield Housing Co-op has been committed from the outset to high environmental standards after an initial visit to other environmental buildings to see for themselves what could be achieved, and encouragement from their architects.

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