What if…?/ we lived in places of small distances

30 September 2021 at 18:15

A group of people walk along a stone wall
Credit: Bash Art Creative

The need for redesigning how we live is not new. In the face of the climate crisis, more of us are trying to reduce our impact by living more locally, which in turn is helping communities connect and thrive.

Covid-19 continues to have a huge impact on how we live and interact within our communities. It has prompted many of us to think about how we might live differently – bringing sharply into focus what we all need to live well locally and what our neighbourhoods mean to us.

The concept of the 20-minute neighbourhood is a way to radically reconsider space, with meeting the needs of citizens at its core. The idea offers many solutions, and experiments have taken place in major cities across the globe. But how might this work rurally, where communities are sparse and have different needs? How can this be applied to different socio-economic situations? And how can we continue to improve our urban spaces to better meet the needs of a constantly changing world?

Join our expert panel to explore these ideas.

Dr. Husam Al Waer is an architect, planner, urbanist and award-winning author. He is currently Reader in Sustainable Urban Design at the University of Dundee and has a focussed interest in the past and future of sustainable places, neighbourhoods and cities.


Krish Nathaniel is a spatial practitioner working at the intersection of urban design, spatial justice and play. He is the Principal Urban Designer for the London Borough of Harrow and architect-in-residence at Glamis Adventure Playground, Tower Hamlets. Krish is one of the Architecture Foundation’s New Architecture Writers for 2021 and as an artist has exhibited internationally, with a focus on social histories and cartography.

Tessy Britton leads Participatory City, an organisation dedicated to developing new systems for practical participation in urban neighbourhoods. This new systems approach is well advanced through Every One Every Day, a large and highly successful prototype in East London, UK. Tessy is a social designer and innovator who believes that inclusive participation, built around people and everyday life, has the potential to be the single most important opportunity we have to solving the many challenges being faced it cities across the world.

Ewan Anderson is an Architect and Urban Designer who leads 7N Architects, an Edinburgh based design practice who specialise in generating innovative ideas that make better places through transformational change. The practice is focused on unlocking the full potential of places, spaces and buildings by bringing together architecture, urban design, landscape and masterplanning in an integrated approach to placemaking. Ewan developed the What If? initiative, initially as a self-initiated study by 7N on the practice’s home city of Edinburgh. This was a collection of ideas and propositions aimed at questioning, stimulating and inspiring positive change within the city to stimulate discussion, debate and expansive thinking on how it can be a better place for all of its citizens.

Stephen Willacy was Chief City architect for the last 8,5 years in Aarhus, Denmark. Previously a partner in Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects where he was partner responsible for University of Aberdeen Sir Duncan Rice Library and urban environs. Stephen is currently Honorary Professor in Architecture and Urbanism at University of Dundee, examiner at Aarhus School of Architecture and running his own practice Stephen Willacy Architecture + Urbanism.

Heather Claridge is a Planner, Designer and Geographer with 13 years public sector experience within Glasgow and more recently across Scotland. She has helped support the development and delivery of community, climate and regeneration initiatives, through a design-led approach. She is the co-chair of the Academy of Urbanism Scottish Advisory Group, an affiliate of the UN Habitat’s Planners for Climate Action and RTPI Urban Design Champion for Scotland.

This event is a collaboration between the Scotland + Venice partnership and V&A Dundee. What if…?/Scotland is showing until 21 November 2021.

Image: Bash Art Creative