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CONCRETE Designs to Thrive

Constructing Spaces for Living Well

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

  • the most utilized material on the planet after water

  • contributes to 8% of global CO2 emissions

  • 40% of landfill in Scotland comes from construction

Law makers and regulators seek to guide and cajole as a new well-being and circular economy takes shape.

Designers, confronted by this heavy carbon footprint, seek mindful, functional and sustainable design solutions.

Concrete Designs to Thrive draws on seven essential acts of life:

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

 

In a rolling series of creative events, we journey to Scotland's seven cities, on the ground from 2022.

We celebrate the triumphs and debate the challenges for contemporary designers working in Scotland. 

We foster international collaboration by linking interventions at home and abroad,

From consideration of material and construction, we pose broader questions about sustainability and well-being.

In all we ask, what places and spaces help us to live well and prosper?

We introduce our Concrete Designs to Thrive programme with a Concrete Walk by Design in central Edinburgh.

We walk and talk to design experts and enthusiasts, outlining themes and objectives on this latest material journey.

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

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

Our 'Concrete Walk in the Capital' was presented in June 2021, as part of Scotland's Architecture Fringe.

You can read a full adapted transcript from some of the conversations by clicking these links:

 

1 Meet - Patrick Geddes

2 Learn - Basil Spence

3 Nest - Regenerative Garden Design

4 Pray - Joanna Kessel, Mosaic Artist

5 Heal - Ruthanne Baxter, University of Edinburgh

6 Play - Kate Foggo, Edinburgh Frontrunners

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.