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The project was commissioned by the Scotland + Venice partnership and is the creation of Edinburgh based 7N architects together with Architecture and Design Scotland, Scotland’s design agency and a number of local partners.
Started in 2019, the project paired five local residents with five architects and designers to discuss how they would improve the spaces where they live and what their hopes, wishes and aspirations for the future are.
The designer responded by proposing a way to make the hopes a reality – asking What if?
The process was filmed by Basharat Khan. The exhibition was initially prepared for the Scotland + Venice exhibition for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2020 – the world’s leading architecture exhibition.
But the exhibition was postponed due to Covid-19 but organisers were able to adapt and premiere at V&A Dundee.
The exhibition also explored areas like Shetland/Lerwick, Dundee, Annan, Elgin and Paisley.
Emily Stevenson, a local resident who took part in the project, said: "We looked at the old petrol station in the town centre and how it could become a community hub. I was especially interested to see if it would be possible to create a space for young people to gather. It was great to be involved in the project and it was interesting to hear different local people talk about what the area means to them"
In Wester Hailes one of the key topics was around connections; connecting communities within the area and providing spaces for human connections.
Emily and Eoghan Howard discussed with Katie Hay from 7N how a footbridge across the Union Canal would provide a connection to green spaces which would enhance the lives of locals.
Groups discussed the derelict garage as a location for a community hub and how it was once an important part of the community and had the potential to be so again.
Leah Black from WHALE Arts, who hosted the workshops, said: “It feels like a lifetime ago that Eoghan and I introduced a small group of local residents from Wester Hailes - Eunice, Emily, Bahiya, Ili, Chuks and Louize to the architects working on What If...? Scotland.
“The project was timely for us as we were working with Wester Hailes Community Trust, Ian Gilzean and partners on the beginnings of a Local Place Plan for Wester Hailes. This work on the LPP has continued to develop throughout 2020 and 2021 and we are thrilled at the notion of being able to incorporate some of these inspiring ideas into the long-term regeneration of Wester Hailes.”
Ewan Anderson of 7N Architects said: “When we first met with these communities in late 2019, who could have foreseen how much our lives would change? It’s interesting that even prior to a year in lockdown, community and spaces to gather and meet were of common importance throughout Scotland. And how fitting that this exhibition examining our places and how design affects them will be presented at Scotland’s first Design Museum V&A Dundee.”
Exhibition dates: Sat May 22– Sun Nov 21 2021 – Free museum entry.
Booking open at: www.vam.ac.uk/dundee.