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Design Skills Symposium 2014 Day 2 Newsletter

If you dont draw it, it wont happen! Design Skills Symposium 2014 summed up by key contributors The aim of the sympoisum was to deliver

scenarios. Even if they’re sketchy it gets the idea

learning, methods and approaches that could be

down and provides a starting point for consideration.

applied outwith the study sites. On this basis, the following reflections were offered from key contributors who had moved between subgroups seeking key transferrable learning. Day One keynote speaker Geoffrey London, Victorian Government Architect, noted the process had acted as the condenser of ideas and thoughts. Lawrence’s group had gone from scratchy despair to inspired description. Following the process arms participants

Further reflections were provided by Jim MacDonald, Jill Malvenan, and Heather Chapple of A+DS. Questions included - Should we go for development at any cost or are there better more self-sustainable solutions? How do you construct an identity for an area? Artists have a role as agents for reform. Make space for collaborations, for people to do things together.

with something repeatable and builds confidence that What can design do for this process? Design is a you can make it work again. Many comments were made about being prepared

way to broker solutions. Reiterating ‘If you don’t draw it it won’t happen’; it allows you to see the issues.

to commit to a long-term view. How might you stage

We must base our responses on the unique qualities

strategies to ensure propositions can build on one

that we find in places – not our preconceived ideas.


Resist the urge to go for a solution. Groups looked

The scale of the projects was noted. The three

for potentials and valuable purpose and sought

sites represented massive projects that seemed

to transform the experience of a place. Having

insurmountable at the start. He encouraged the

conversations with “real people” is crucial, being

delegates to be broad in ambition and to seek

able to describe a shared value and where we

connections beyond the site. The three sites had

are trying to get to. A real need for honest, open

astonishing landforms. While there is a tendency

communication about people and their places.

to work 2-dimensionally these sites needed to be looked at 3-dimensionally. Geoffrey remarked the importance of process is establishing a brief with a well-defined project. He noted the level of collective agreement that emerged when there is an understanding of what is needed.

We weren’t here to solve the problems of the specific sites, but with limited time and limited information, everyone had a good go and a lot was achieved. Following the Symposium – it would be good to consider back in the “real world” if we are still tackling problems in the creative way approached here.

Geoffrey also stated “If you don’t draw it, it wont

By applying similar approaches there is a healthy

happen.” The next steps should be “what-if”

chance to bring changes to working practices.

World Café Session

Ali Grehan, City Architect, Dublin

Fast paced, diverse and inspiring - Friday kicked

Ali Grehan’s keynote advocated for the un-tapped

off with the World Café session. Over twenty

potential of applying design to benefit everyone.

individuals or organsiations were represented

Her central messages were about having fun, being

to bring their story of involvement in projects or initiatives related to the 2014 Games directly to

creative, recognising the value of collaboration and the ubiquity of design, perceived or not.

participants of the Design Skills Symposium.

Ali used the story of the bid by Dublin for World

Each delegate contributed to discussion at three

to embed design thinking at a city level by looking

Design Capital 2014 to outline how it is possible

tables in total and this way could get a very

differently at how design is understood. “Cities

strong understanding of key issues of interest in

that value design are more humane, creative

the area from ‘live’ projects and initiatives.

and resilient.” World Design Capital recognises

Feedback from the afternoon workshops indiciated that delegates found the World Cafe

innovative cities for their use of design as an effective tool for social, cultural, environmental and economic development. Dublin’s bid, begun in 2009

session a particularly useful opportunity to hear

in the depths of the financial crash, was branded

voices from across the various sites explored.

Pivot Dublin and identified 5 key rules:

We want to thank everyone who gave so

promote design as a resource to adapt/grow

inspire a culture of collaboration

value of your network

opportunity to celebrate impact

translate ideas into actions through projects

generously of their time to contribute to the World Cafe session. It is a method that we hope to use in future events. Discussion summaries will be published in due course.

While the bid itself was ultimately unsuccessful, Dublin is still the winner insofar as the value of design is better understood by those who are not its natural advocates. In her reflections, Ali noted that collaboration is the hardest thing in the world. We think we do it but we don’t as we tend to work with those like us. She suggested that this limits creativity. It is no fun working with like-minded people. The real fun is in building bridges. For her, the design challenge is not about riding in and telling people what to do but listening and finding where/how you can add value – shorthand perhaps for the learning from the symposium.

Gert Urhahn, The Spontaneous City

In the final keynote presentation, Gert Urhahn

commitment about what the most important thing is

spoke about revitalizing the relationship between

and gathers collective ambition to give direction for

citizens and their city; stressing a need for local

the longer term.

understanding and that that people can do it for themselves, and influence change. This approach to regeneration strategies and principles is set out in a recent book on ‘The Spontaneous City’, summarised as: developing and testing a method; delivering projects; and, contributing to a change in the process. Four key principles are: 1. Initiate many small human scale packages at the same time, instead of a single large development 2. Flexibility and adaptability rather than fixed masterplans 3. The ‘collective public value’ is the condition for individual initiatives and action 4. Be user orientated – action; not just talk The method recognises the important role of multiple stakeholders (people, agencies, institutions) in the process and their involvement and contribution at different stages. The Spontaneous City team work with local municipalities and universities wherever possible; illustrated in three projects: In a project ‘releasing entrepreneurship’ in Ringon, Sweden decisions were made to prioritise a strong city identity (eg “River City”) and target investment to support this. Crucial to this was speaking with local people (e.g. ship owners who wanted a legacy for the future) to understand reality as it is, rather than going in with an ideal or a standard approach to how it should be done. This helps to develop a clear

In a second example for Avenida Tronco in Porto Allegro, Brazil the developer consortia cared about building a road, but not about the fate of the people edging the road. Street life is important in Brazil. People had created their own neighbourhood here and gained collective experience and skills (e.g. electricity & water supply), but did not have legal or formal rights over the land. Starting from low density and gradually evolving, expanding and extending upwards through mutual collaboration and cooperation to become a high density environment. 5000 people would have to move because of the new profile of the Avenida. The Spontaneous City team explored options with the community including: a new house with legal rights in the same neighbourhood, or a payment to assist in relocating and setting up a new enterprise elsewhere. The locally affected community were able to explain their schemes, and developed ideas over a three month period to take forward the project. Key to the success was cooperation between university and local people and developing smart connections. The final example, a refugee camp in Jordan, the consideration was how to make a semi city in a ‘temporary’ environment where economic actvity is forbidden. In reality, camps exist for many (20+) years. In this case there were already over 600 shops operating, albeit illegally. The team worked with the community to consider improvements. The Day 2 keynote session was supported by VELOCITY, coordinators for cultural content related to the Games. Thanks to Ben Spencer, Producer at VELOCITY who facilitated the session.

Workshop Feedback...

Community Empowerment

Creative Use of Vacant Land

Dalmarnock Site | Ian Gilzean (for Béla Kézy)

Port Dundas | Dermot Foley

The group had looked at the Dalmarnock cross area

Dermot thanked Bela for the use of the “problem

and had generated ideas how to stitch the fabric

tree” method and noted that it had helped the

together. There were four different approaches but

group to tease out the problems. It was difficult

all the groups took a wider approach.

to determine causes versus symptoms as the site

The groups mentioned the route through

represents a complex situation.

Dalmarnock as extremely important as there is a

People had worked well in their groups. There

lot of derelict land around it. The crossing point

were similarities between the subgroups solutions

between the “big box” (the arena and stadium) and

– arriving at inter-related conclusions for different

the River is important. There is also a new village –


the athlete’s village – which has a formal urbanism.

Some of the things that came out:

The renovated station is quite low key, but is a focus point. The groups ideas included: 1. to create an events space – a public realm where events can take place. Currently some facilities (eg education, community) are lacking. 2. An urban square with a real marker – for example a tower – between the city and the stadium/village. 3. Offsetting Dalmarnock cross to concentrate on a new public realm 4. Create an assembly of all vacant land around the cross which could be a new urban pattern – including some experimental urbanism, selfbuild, some thing that gets the economy going – like Christiania, parkland. In conclusion there is an amazing opportunity to consider a new urban pattern emerging from the site.

A big idea = a small idea, a small idea = is a big idea Flexibility is a way to attract investment – un conventional adaptability. No certainty is not necessarily a problem for investment – it could attract it A controversial proposal was that there was no need to develop the site - that it could be a “place lab” to experiment Everything went beyond the site; this is not always the case and it was refreshing that this came through. The best thing about the site was that there was a lot of enthusiasm for going back to the site!

Workshop Feedback... Building Value Sighthill | Lawrence Barth Lawrence fed back from the Sighthill study group. He opened by saying that it had been a privilege to watch the process that went from despondency to something that generated enthusiasm for the site. He said that at the beginning the group saw a single place – a place bereft and contaminated. At the end the group began to see new potentials especially from the top of the hill which gives 360 degree views of the surroundings. The hill could be seen as a beacon, and how it relates to its surrounding areas. The groups had considered the hill together with Port Dundas and recreational propositions with synergies with the hill and the waterside. The cemetery provides possibilities for storytelling of interesting figures. What were the problems? Isolation was a major issue. Not just the motorway, but the M8 could draw on the Melbourne example presented by Geoffrey London and use art to create a sense of a gateway to Glasgow – showing there is also a north side of the M8. The group, following the World Café session, identified the expertise to develop more active forested area, possibility to build on dealing with canals for recreation and business development and that there was strong community mobilisation and outreach. In conclusion the group went from

Presentations from Design Skills Symposium 2014 are available here

despondency to enthusiasm about the site.

Presentations from Design Skills Symposium 2014 are available here: We’ve set up a Flickr set for all the images captured at the Design Skills Symposium: if you would like to add yours to the set please contact Sam Patterson from A+DS to upload them. Check out the images on:

Pictures from Day 2...

Developed and delivered by Architecture + Design Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council, Clyde Gateway and Improvement Service and supported by others including Scottish Canals and VELOCITY.

DSS 2014 newsletter day 2  

Newsletter capturing key presentations and workshops from day 2 of the design skills symposium 2014

DSS 2014 newsletter day 2  

Newsletter capturing key presentations and workshops from day 2 of the design skills symposium 2014