RIBA Award for Sustainable Design
Designed for a circular economy in the built environment, THE LAST STRAW explores the potential of reusing a soon-to-be-demolished shed on the outskirts of Edinburgh: the Ratho library. While the shed would typically be considered to have a low value, the proposal challenges, in response to the climate emergency, the parameters according to which buildings are deemed worthy of preservation.
By carefully surveying, cataloguing and evaluating the existing modular building, the proposal responds to and enhances its social, ecological and historical relationships to its site. Using local, renewable and biodegradable materials—straw from West Lothian and larch cladding from Dunfermline—the existing structure is adapted, and many of its inefficiencies addressed.
The project, situated along one of Southern Scotland’s main biodiversity corridors, reinforces the site’s rich ecology by minimising disruption, creating elevated lightweight structures that protect existing trees, and including a habitat wall—a designed interface of human and non-human communities. Finding value in the ‘temporary‘ library shed’s components, THE LAST STRAW challenges the linear model of resource use and promotes the rehabilitation, reuse and extension of this much-loved community building. Designed with the life-cycle of the building in mind, the project promotes its continued circulation in technical and biological cycles.