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CONCRETE Designs to Thrive

Spaces and places for Living Well

a rolling series of creative events from Glasgow exploring urban design for well-being, collaborating to develop and deliver a new Walk, a series of Twilight Talks and an evolving Exhibition across art, design and industry. 

June 2021: introduced with a walk on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

June 2023: launched with a walk in Glasgow Green 

 

and coming up in June 2024

Exhibitions and our latest Twilight Talk at the Briggait

and our Glasgow Green and Grey Walk by Design,

in association with Invisible Cities.

Registration via Eventbrite.

 

Introduction

Concrete is the material focus for this exploration of urban design.
From minute to monumental, concrete is the basis for a huge array of urban interventions across art, design and industry, forming the structural warp to a cultural weft of people, places and activities. 

 

By Leaves we Live

CDT is underpinned by reflection on the work of pioneering Scottish botanist and town planner, Patrick Geddes. As a generalist, Geddes worked 'across silos', engaging with creative allies from science and the arts; his Outlook Tower offered a culture hub for exploring ideas, his Summer Schools brought like minds together and his touring exhibition offered a means to disseminate his work.

 

In particular, four of Geddes’ methods find currency in our CDT programme:

  • 'conservative surgery’: retrofit rather than wrecking ball, a regenerative appraisal of what might work best

  • the power of nature: biophiliic design with provision of urban green space and in material choice and innovation

  • civic co-design: understanding local landscape and culture through direct engagement with community

  • internationalism: an enthusiastic embrace of opportunities to debate and exchange beyond borders

 

A thematic journey 

To bring manageable focus to the broad landscape of urban design, CDT draws on eight essential acts of life:

MEET, HEAL, PRAY, LEARN, NEST, VOTE, WORK and PLAY.

 

Is it a CON?

There is tension in referring to Concrete in relation to design for well-being, the most utilised material on the planet after water, and contributing to 8% of global CO2 emissions. In Scotland, 40% of landfill derives from the construction industry. As law makers and regulators seek to guide and cajole, designers are confronted by the heavy carbon footprint of this ubiquitous material and seek alternative approaches.

Our journey explores the urban landscape using photography, from brutal realism captured by Scotland’s photo-maestros to the street shots captured on our personal smartphone archives. We stretch our journeys beyond borders to foster new creative collaboration internationally with cities outside Scotland. 

 

This journey in design ultimately asks how to build in well-being so all of us can thrive.

We hope you enjoy this ambitious new programme and will journey with us as it unfolds.

 

in 2021, we introduced Concrete Designs to Thrive in collaboration with Architecture Fringe with a Walk by Design in central Edinburgh, outlining themes and objectives with local design experts and enthusiasts,

Check out each of our seven stops on the route below: each film is around 20 minutes in duration.

You can also read a full adapted transcript from some of the conversations by clicking the links.

You can watch our full range of Walks and Creative Encounters on our Journeys in Design YouTube channel

 

1 Meet - more about Patrick Geddes

2 Learn - more about Basil Spence and design archives

3 Nest - more about Regenerative Garden Design

4 Pray - more about public art as sanctuary

5 Heal - more about Social Prescribing 

6 Play - more about urband parklands and social exercise

1 MEET

A Walk and Talk with Emma Olver of Scottish Historic Buildings Trust

from Camera Obscura to Riddles Court 

discussing design legacies and Sir Patrick Geddes

In the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, the pair discuss the work and legacy of the Scottish internationalist Sir Patrick Geddes, town planner and polymath. We walk from his Outlook Tower, at the top of Castle Hill, passing the tenement where he and his family made their home, through into Riddles Court and the Patrick Geddes Centre. We reflect on the contemporary power of the Geddes legacy.

This encounter introduces Concrete Designs to Thrive, exploring contemporary urban design for living well.

The design legacy of Sir Patrick Geddes runs throughout this programme.

This encounter also introduces the theme of MEET, an exploration of Culture Hubs, Cafes and City Squares.

Click here to read the full adapted text of this conversation about Patrick Geddes

2 LEARN

A Walk and Talk with Fran Baseby of University of Edinburgh Special Collections.
from George Square to Edinburgh Uni Library 

discussing design archives and Basil Spence

We take in leafy views of George Square and the nearby Meadows as we walk around by the main library of University of Edinburgh, designed by Scottish architect Basil Spence and partners. We discuss what works about the building in context and reflect on textile links from Edinburgh to Spence’ Coventry Cathedral. The pair discuss how the work of the special collections’ archivist is evolving and how archives can enliven the story of design.

 

This encounter introduces Concrete Designs to Thrive, exploring the contemporary urban design for living well.

The place of design archives and the work of Basil Spence forms an important part this programme.

The encounter also introduces the theme of LEARN an exploration of University Libraries and Campuses. 

Click for the full adapted text of this conversation about Basil Spence and Edinburgh Uni Special Collections

3 NEST

A Walk and Talk with Ed and Paul, Edinburgh residents and design activists

0ff the High street in Edinburgh's Old Town

discussing garden design, community and regeneration

 

In the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, we move from an original Patrick Geddes small town garden into a verdant oasis created by Ed and Paul from the tarmac back yard of their tenement. We discuss the nature of neighbourhood and how shared garden spaces can unite and engage. The pair discuss the work involved in creating their new garden including the canny reuse of tarmac slabs and the packing of new dividing wall, all examples of zero waste and circular design. Regenerative design principles are at work too, a new garden space increasing local biodiversity for the greater good.

 

This encounter introduces Concrete Designs to Thrive, exploring contemporary urban design for living well.

The realities of zero waste, circular and regenerative design are all core to our exploration in this programme.

The encounter also introduces the theme of NEST an exploration of Homes and Neighbourhoods. 

Click for the full adapted text of this conversation about Regenerative Garden Design

4 PRAY

A Walk and Talk with Joanna Kessel, Mosaic Artist
down from the High Street onto St John Street   
discussing art in urban design and the spiritual  

A Walk and Talk with Joanna Kessel, mosaic artist and John Ennis of Journeys in Design. Continuing down the Royal Mile in Scotland’s capital, the conversation highlights the impact of art in the public realm as a focus for a mindful pause in the busy urban environment. Walking through the recently landscaped area of Old Moray House, John introduces Joanna and continues to the campus of new Moray House Department of Education, University of Edinburgh. The pair settle on a striking set of concrete relief sculptures and tell the story of their creation.

 

This encounter introduces Concrete Designs to Thrive, a programme from Journeys in Design exploring contemporary urban design for living well. Materiality across art design and industry defines the programme. This encounter also introduces another programme theme, PRAY an exploration of Faith Buildings, Art and Sanctuary. 

Click here to read the full adapted text of this interview with Joanna Kessel

5 HEAL

A Walk and Talk with Ruthanne Baxter, Museums Manager and lead Prescribe Culture at University of Edinburgh.

from the Scottish Poetry Library to Dunbar's Close
discussing designs on prescription 

 

John Ennis, Journeys in Design, introduces Ruthanne Baxter, Museums Services Manager University of Edinburgh and lead of the Prescribe Culture project. Starting alongside the Scottish Poetry Library, Ruthanne describes this social prescribing initiative, a heritage-based non-clinical support service, offering visits to culture hubs throughout Edinburgh. Walking across a busy High Street at the Canongate, the pair discuss research into student welfare, concluding their discussion outside one of Patrick Geddes’ conserved garden spaces, the hidden gem called Dunbar’s Close.

This encounter introduces Concrete Designs to Thrive, a programme from Journeys in Design exploring contemporary urban design for living well. The design legacy of Sir Patrick Geddes runs throughout this programme. The encounter also introduces the theme of HEAL, an exploration of places and spaces for Health and Well-Being.

Click here to read the full adapted text of this interview with Ruthanne Baxter

6 PLAY

A Walk and Talk with Kate Foggo, Jog Scotland coach and member of LGBTQ club, Edinburgh Frontrunners.
From Dumbiedykes to the Crags
discussing designs on recreation

John Ennis, curator producer Journeys in Design, tells the story of the redeveloped Dumbiedykes area of Edinburgh’s Old Town, while strolling through the nearby ‘green corridor’. Meeting with Kate Foggo in front of the mighty Salisbury Crags and a local skatepark, the pair discuss the Frontrunners community approach to exercise in the urban landscape, referencing ‘Couch to 5k’, Jog Scotland and international partners. Jog on!

 

This encounter introduces Concrete Designs to Thrive, a programme exploring contemporary urban design of places and spaces for living well. The design legacy of Sir Patrick Geddes runs throughout this programme. This encounter also introduces the theme of PLAY, an exploration of Pavilions and Parklands.

Click here to read the full adapted text of this conversation about Dumbiedykes and Edinburgh Frontrunners

7 VOTE

A Walk and Talk with Dr Peter Wilkie, Senior Researcher and Tropical Botanist at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

from Holyrood Palace gardens to the Scottish Parliament building and landscape

discussing design, concrete, and biodiversity

 

Walking from the re-established Physic Garden and original site for the Botanic Gardens, we trace Peter’s career journey through Scotland and beyond. The pair walk in the managed landscape beside the Scottish Parliament, exploring the nature of concrete and limestone mining. Peter alerts us to the environmental impact, with loss of biodiverse landscape in Southeast Asia, while making the link between local biodiversity and legislation passing through the Scottish Parliament.

 

This encounter introduces Concrete Designs to Thrive, a programme exploring contemporary urban design for living well. The design legacy of Sir Patrick Geddes and a focus of construction materials run throughout this programme. This encounter introduces the theme of VOTE an exploration of Parliament and City Chambers. 

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