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Elgin to feature in V&A Dundee exhibition – What if…?/Scotland – exploring people's hopes for their home towns


By Lorna Thompson

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ELGIN is one of five places in Scotland which will feature in a high-profile exhibition at V&A Dundee exploring people's hopes and dreams for their home towns.

The Scotland + Venice partnership, which provides architects and artists in Scotland with a platform to showcase their work globally, says the "What if…?/Scotland" exhibition will open at the venue on May 22.

The exhibition was originally designed to be staged in Venice for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

What if…? / Scotland responds to the biennale’s theme "How will we live together?", which asks communities from across Scotland to share their hopes for the future of the places they call home.

It is produced by Edinburgh-based 7N Architects in partnership with Architecture & Design Scotland.

At the start of last year, 7N paired 25 people from five places: Elgin, Wester Hailes, Paisley, Annan and Lerwick – with 25 designers, architects and artists – to share their hopes, dreams or wishes for the future of the places they live.

The architects and designers then used these wishes to begin exploring ideas in response to the community challenges being faced.

This process has been captured in a series of short films.

People from five Scottish communities, architects, artists and designers have joined forces to share hopes for the future of the places they live for the What if…? / Scotland exhibition. Picture: 7N Architects and Architecture & Design Scotland.
People from five Scottish communities, architects, artists and designers have joined forces to share hopes for the future of the places they live for the What if…? / Scotland exhibition. Picture: 7N Architects and Architecture & Design Scotland.

The stories of each place are told by its citizens and are set within landscapes of both rural and urban Scotland.

Project lead Ewan Anderson, of 7N, said: "If the past year has shown us anything, it is the importance of community and the theme, ‘How will we live together?’, is more salient than ever.

"We really wanted to encourage collaborative thinking between designers and communities to demonstrate how community-led, grassroots engagement can stimulate big ideas from conversations about people’s wishes for the future of their places: how will we live together? what if…? what does the future of your place look like? what if you could change it?"

Jim MacDonald, chief executive of Architecture and Design Scotland, said: "Everyone is influenced and affected by the decisions involving the design of our places. Good design that involves collaboration can empower communities and support wellbeing.

"The themes, wishes and dreams explored in What if…?/Scotland demonstrate the creativity that comes from communities working with architects and designers to creative positive change."

Scotland + Venice chair Amanda Catto said: "Over the last year we have all had to adjust to living differently and have come to realise what we value most dearly about the spaces and places that surround us.

"What if…?/Scotland explores the hopes and dreams of five communities across Scotland as they imagine the future of the place that they call home."

Free tickets can be booked at www.vam.ac.uk/dundee.


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