Architect: Optimised Environments Ltd (OPEN)
Client: Countesswells Development Limited
Consultant engineer: Fairhurst
Countesswells is a new community to the west of Aberdeen which will encompass 3000 homes and supporting facilities. The Phase 1 masterplan includes 1264 homes, 10 hectares of employment, primary and secondary education. It establishes the character and quality of the wider development through the transformation of what is a relatively inert and mundane tract of low-grade agricultural land with limited biodiversity into a new place establishing new landscape spaces and a high quality and biodiverse environment for new residents. At the time of writing, around 100 homes of Phase 1 have been completed and are occupied.
Innovation within the Project
Countesswells demonstrates innovation in a number of ways, from the unique funding model which allows for significant advanced public space and infrastructure, to the novel approach to surface water drainage and the provision of truly flexible and future-proof network connectivity. Countesswells is the only UK housing scheme to benefit from a HMT (Her Majesty's Treasury) guarantee; there is no direct input from Government, but their covenant allows CDL to borrow substantial funds over a long period. This has allowed significant up-front infrastructure including the advanced delivery of a significant portion of Cults Burn Park/infrastructure which was in place and functioning in time for the first residents.
The park is within the watershed of the strictly protected River Dee, and covered by a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which required an innovative approach to Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) in order to ensure enhanced water quality while providing useable open space. It is designed to integrate rich layers of activities, functions and spaces to create an early open space resource. Within the first part of the Park alone, a community orchard, 600 trees, 25,000 plants, and 34 species of native wildflower have been planted.
A novel approach IT connectivity has seen a partnership arrangement between CDL and a service provider delivering speeds up to 1Gbps, the fastest in the UK, through a completely open
network. A powerful, unconstrained and flexible approach allows for limitless expansion and future uses which cannot be anticipated at this time. A CDL owned data centre has been constructed with fibre connecting to the main Scottish fibre network and allowing 4 fibre lines for each house and available to future businesses, schools and Health facilities. Within the data centre any service provider can locate their equipment, giving customers a genuinely open network with multiple choices.