CSIC launches plans to transform public spaces into office hubs

CONSTRUCTION Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has unveiled plans to help retrofit public spaces into out-of-town alternatives to city centre offices.

The move is said to reflect the changing working patterns of a post-Covid Scotland.

As part of the NearHome project, supported by £250,000 in Scottish Government funding, a team has developed a blueprint for a self-build, modular approach to office fit-out using a kit that can be replicated and adapted to different types and sizes of buildings.

South Lanarkshire Council and Smart Sustainable East Kilbride are also supporting the initiative, with input from the Scottish Futures Trust. The plans are designed to align with the ’20-minute neighbourhood’ approach to city planning.

CSIC said the toolkit, which will be freely available to businesses and construction firms, centres around a structure that can be installed ‘quickly and with minimal interference’ for the building’s external fabric. It will also offer a solution for buildings that may have previously been considered too difficult or costly to retrofit.

Sustainability is a core element, with a kit made from Scottish timber that can be deconstructed and re-used if required.

Lynsey Brydson, innovation manager at CSIC, said, “Covid-19 has caused a significant shift in working patterns and this approach to office design could be transformational in providing commuters with an alternative to heading into the city centre for work. Retrofitting is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to improving the carbon footprint of our built environment, but this sustainable approach is designed with low carbon materials and can be applied to older or unused buildings which would typically not be considered for office space.

“Using modern methods of construction, the design is easily replicated with the majority of the building work done in a quality-controlled, offsite environment. Throughout this initial stage of the project, we have already seen the benefits of collaboration, with multiple partners helping to create the design for an optimum work environment.”

A pilot test site is currently being identified in East Kilbride, which will be transformed into the first office space to be constructed based on the design.