What does the future of your place look like? What if you could change it?

It’s an open question that can stimulate discussion, debate, creative thinking, and positive change. In the face of a changing and uncertain climate, it is vital that conversation and participation are prioritised when we design our collective future.

What if…?/Scotland was designed by 7N architects and Architecture and Design Scotland to be staged in Venice as part of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, responding to the Biennale’s theme How will we live together?

What if…?/Scotland seeks to re-engage the civic role of design professions by asking citizens from across Scotland to share their hopes and dreams for the future of the places they call home.

We paired local citizens from all over Scotland – Wester Hailes in Edinburgh, Paisley in Renfrewshire, Annan in Dumfries and Galloway, Elgin in Morayshire, and Lerwick in Shetland – with designers, architects, and artists. Each individual presented a challenge to a designer. They shared a hope, dream or wish for the future of the place where they live. These conversations were captured in a series of films by Bash Art Creative available to view here. The designers used these prompts as starting points to explore imaginative solutions to the challenges facing the community. In bringing What if…?/Scotland to Dundee we will also engage with the citizens of Dundee to explore their place.

What if…?/Scotland encourages collaborative thinking, and demonstrates how community-led, grassroots engagement can stimulate local discussions which become global conversations.

How will we live together? What if…?

Exhibition Dates

May 22 2021 to November 21 2021

Opening Times

Thursday – Monday
10:00 – 17:00

Location

V&A Dundee
1 Riverside Esplanade, Dundee DD1 4EZ, United Kingdom

Scotland's National Centre of Design

www.vam.ac.uk

Profile

7N Architects

7N Architects Office, Edinburgh

7N Architects is an Edinburgh based design practice specialising 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 master-planning in an integrated approach to placemaking. Read more

19 November 2021 — News

What if…?/ Scotland: 10,000 Scottish gallery-goers ‘wishes’ for a better Scotland revealed

A young woman with dark hair rests on a black wishing well with a golden circle around her head. Her eyes are closed and she holds a card with the words I wish on her chest.
Amanie Ahmed from Dundee, who contributed to the What if…?/Scotland exhibition makes a wish at the Wishing Well. Image by Neil Hanna Photography

The award-winning exhibition What if…?/Scotland comes to an end at the V&A Dundee on Sunday 21st November, having collected over 10,000 wishes from the people of Scotland and beyond. Commissioned by the Scotland + Venice Partnership, and created by Edinburgh-based 7N Architects, What if…?/Scotland was originally designed as Scotland’s contribution to the 17th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, but due to the pandemic it was redesigned to go on to successfully show at V&A Dundee. Read more

Event

What if…/ young people designed our future?, 18 November 2021 at 18:15

Two people stand on the banks of a canal holding a string of multi coloured bunting across the water.
Still from What if film from Wester Hailes by Bash Art Creative

The final of our online public events, in collaboration with V&A Dundee, to support the Scotland + Venice exhibition What if...?/ Scotland, focuses on young people and climate change. Young people today are the generation that will be most affected by climate change. Read more

Event

What if…/ we reconsider how we will live together?, 21 October 2021 at 18:15

A brightly lit room with a tall structure in the middles, surrounded by green plants
© Cristiano Corte © British Council

Drawing on creative minds across the world, responses have been wildly different. The urgency of the question sparked ideas and made connections in unexpected and compelling ways. Join us to explore some of these responses, and to hear from some of the curators, architects and creatives that have responded to this year’s theme including the curators of The Garden of Privatised Delights, Entanglement, The Anthropocene Museum: Exhibit 3.0 Obsidian Rain, Lithuanian Space Agency Presents Planet of People and What if…?/Scotland. Read more

10 September 2021 — Writing

Inviting communities to think big

An illustrative image showing a close up of white postcards with handwritten notes with the words I wish written on a dark wall in the background
Credit: Alan Richardson.

This article by Ewan Anderson, 7N Architects, was originally published in Scotland on Sunday, 12 May 2021. Every two years, architects from countries all over the world exhibit thought-provoking ideas at the Venice Architecture Biennale, and it was a great honour for my practice, 7N Architects, to be commissioned by the Scotland + Venice partnership to represent Scotland in the latest edition of this global festival. Read more

Event

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. Read more

8 June 2021 — Writing

The civic role of architecture

A close up picture of a hand holding an orange pencil writing on a card. There is also a card with the words I Wish printed on the front.

At the opening of What if...?/Scotland on 21 May, President of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, Christina Gaiger gave these remarks, reflecting on the civic role of architecture and Scotland's architecture on the global stage.  I'd like to start off today by talking a little bit about the international recognition of Scottish architecture. Read more

2 June 2021 — News

What if…?/Scotland – Exhibition Films

What if…?/Scotland films on show at the V+A Dundee (Image by Alan Richardson)

What if…?/Scotland worked with citizens, designers and architects to explore hopes and possibilities for their places asking about their wishes for their place. Reflective and immersive, the five films by Bash Art Creative, are now available online. Read more

21 May 2021 — News

What if…?/Scotland opens at V&A Dundee on 22 May

What If...?/Scotland, photo by Alan Richardson, Pix-Ar
What If…?/Scotland, photo by Alan Richardson, Pix-Ar

People from across Scotland will showcase their hopes, dreams and ideas for their local areas in a post-pandemic world at Scotland’s design museum. Since the beginning of 2020, 30 people of all ages, from Annan, Edinburgh, Elgin, Dundee, Lerwick and Paisley- have worked with designers, architects and artists to reflect on the place they call home for an exhibition opening this week at V&A Dundee. Read more

18 May 2021 — Writing

One Year On: How has the pandemic changed the way we look at our places?

Citizens of Dundee working with Architects for What if…?/Scotland (Image by Lydia Smith)

In this blog Jim MacDonald, Chief Executive, Architecture and Design Scotland reflects on how our places have changed during a year of lockdown and adaptation. I think it’s fair to say, the Covid-19 pandemic has been the biggest shock to our systems in generations, and despite the vaccine and an easing of lockdown, it is set to have a lasting impact on our lives. Read more

3 May 2021 — Resource

What if…? / Resources

Alan Thomson Harbour Development Officer, Jordan McCrae, Collective Architecture, Nicola Atkinson, Beautiful Materials Design Studio and Calum McDougall worked together in early 2020 to add their hopes, wishes and ideas for Annan to What if…?/Scotland (Image by Bash Art Creative)

If you want to explore any of the themes in the What if...?/Scotland exhibition further, here is a list of relevant resources and tools. The Place Standard The Place Standard tool provides a simple framework to structure conversations about place. Read more

30 April 2021 — News

Cloud of Dreams: Get Involved with What if…?/Scotland

In early 2020, citizens of Lerwick worked with designers and architects to add their hopes, wishes and ideas for What if…?/Scotland (Image by 7N Architects)

What if…?/Scotland worked with citizens, designers and architects to explore wishes and possibilities for their places asking about their wishes for their place. To mark the opening of What if…?/Scotland at V&A Dundee on 22 May, we are inviting you to share a wish for your place. Read more

15 April 2021 — News

Press Release: What if…?/Scotland

Anne Duff and Cathy Houston, Voices of Experience, and Johannes Gonani worked together in early 2020 to contribute their hopes, wishes and ideas for Paisley for What if…?/Scotland (Image by Bash Art Creative)

The Scotland + Venice partnership is delighted to announce that the exhibition What if…?/Scotland, designed to be staged in Venice as part of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, will now open at V&A Dundee on Saturday 22 May and run until Sunday 21 November 2021. Read more

Event

What if…?/ Scotland Exhibition Launch, 21 May 2021 at 12:00

Eunice Main, Wester Hailes and Ian Gilzean, Scotland’s Chief Architect, worked together in early 2020 to add their hopes, wishes and ideas for Wester Hailes to What if…?/Scotland (Image by 7N Architects)

Award winning Edinburgh based architecture and design practice 7N Architects, in partnership with Architecture & Design Scotland, present their Scotland + Venice commission What if…?/Scotland at V&A Dundee from Saturday 22 May until Sunday 21 November 2021. Read more

23 March 2021 — News

Scotland + Venice commission by 7N Architects and Architecture & Design Scotland to debut at V&A Dundee

A group of 11 people stand in a line in front of a concrete building. The person on the left is in a wheelchair
The group of citizens, designers and architects who worked together in Paisley to explore how we will live today as part of as part of What if…?/Scotland. Image Courtesy of 7N

What if…?/Scotland Shared hopes, dreams and wishes for the future of the places where we live Scotland + Venice commission by 7N Architects and Architecture & Design Scotland to debut at V&A Dundee Exhibition dates: Sat 22 May – Sun 21 Nov 2021 Free museum entry. Read more

Profile

7N Architects

7N Architects Office, Edinburgh

7N Architects is an Edinburgh based design practice specialising 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 master-planning in an integrated approach to placemaking. Read more

Place

Annan

Lynne Russell, Citizen I wish… that the young people I teach could look out of the classroom window and see a town which has something to offer them. Andrew Piggott, 7N Architects What if… the people of Annan could short-circuit the political processes that prevent making worthwhile use of derelict buildings? Read more

Place

Dundee

Ria, Citizen I wish... there was a space  for young people to connect in nature. Nicholas, 7N Architects What if... a series of ‘loose-fit’ landscape spaces connected the town and created a gathering point for the community? Read more

Place

Elgin

Sophie McWilliam I wish… that Elgin had enough to offer that I could stay here when I leave school, rather than needing to move to a big city. Lisa Mackenzie, Landscape Architecture What if… we created better spaces to allow the vibrant events and activities that already happen in Elgin to come alive and engage the community? Read more

Place

Lerwick

Alastair Hamilton, Citizen I wish… our town could be protected from rising sea levels for future generations. Ewan Anderson, 7N Architects What if… Lerwick’s response to rising sea levels became an opportunity to defiantly transform where the town’s edge meets the sea? Read more

Place

Paisley

Johannes Gonani, Citizen I wish… that minority voices were heard as loud and clear as other voices in decision making. Anne Duff + Cathy Houston, Voices of Experience What if… the power of the White Cart Water was harnessed once more, to create employment opportunities for minority groups? Read more

Place

Wester Hailes

Louize Gibson, Citizen I wish… my friends would look up from their phones and be more connected to each other. Daisy Narayanan, Director of Urbanism, Sustrans What if… Wester Hailes became a place where people were prioritised over infrastructure and traffic? Read more