Where shall we begin? In an echoing Cumbernauld underpass maybe. Or with street artists painting forgotten parts of Kelty. Among poets of diversity congregating in Dunoon. Or with female dancers challenging the granite-grey masculinity of Aberdeen?
These are items picked almost at random from Architecture Fringe 2018. Scrolling down the programme it’s hard to suppress a bubbling excitement. But why try? The list of events happening in June offers a bold and creatively challenging menu, with unexpected happenings in both likely and unlikely locations. And we are so delighted that A Brisk Walk, our audio tour of derelict buildings, is part of it.
The third Architecture Fringe (#ArchiFringe2018) is the biggest so far, despite a limited budget (an application for Creative Scotland Open Project funding earlier this year was unsuccessful). The now annual grassroots festival of ‘art, architecture and activism’ began in July 2016 as a fringe of the Year of Architecture and Design. In 2017 there were 50 projects, this year there are more than 70, spreading across Scotland – from Dundee to Dunoon, from Mellerstain to Lochgoilhead and many points between.
Architecture Fringe is a what you might call a constructive disrupter. A community interest company formed by architects, designers, photographers, engineers, visual artists, curators and musicians. They work through open meetings to source ideas. Together they create a contributor-led programme probing the impact of architecture, design and planning on our daily lives.
Space to work, rest and play
It’s a ‘friendly but critical’ process that aims to challenge even as it connects and supports. The ‘provocation’ for this year’s programme is the theme COMMON/SENSES which can be interpreted in many ways – as you can see from the mix of art, dance, music, film, talks, walks and exhibitions investigating urban space. And how it makes us feel and behave.
Architecture is not just for architects, planning officers, builders and construction firms. The shape of Scotland is changing and everyone needs, and can have, a voice in that change. Andy Summers, co-founder Architecture Fringe
There are events exploring how we use, abuse and re-imagine space in Scotland’s biggest cities. In Glasgow Make it Up, Change it Up, Light it Up invites children to engage with the natural and built environment by lighting up the Kelvin Walkway with fluorescent art, illuminating a safer place ‘reclaimed by the people’.
In Edinburgh some of the most imaginative ideas emerge in Leith. The Reuse Showroom, stylishly kitted out with affordable, recycled furniture and furnishings, is a brilliant idea from Zero Waste Leith – a beautifully practical provocation in the increasingly unaffordable capital city.
But there are sparky ideas in less celebrated parts of Scotland. Here is just a handful.
From Utopia to Carbuncle
What’s It Called in Cumbernauld. Walking tours of a sorely derided place – that seems a touch of inspiration – and one of them is titled From Utopia to Carbuncle. The once visionary new town design pioneered pedestrian bridges, underpasses and footpaths to separate people and cars. But there were unintended anti-social consequences. What’s It Called explores the evolution of the new town, challenges of change and how collaboration with local people could develop solutions. 9 June
In the former coal mining town of Kelty, local artists and volunteers are also working together to bring colour to neglected areas of the Fife village. “This is not graffiti…this is fine art” and you can find it in K-Art Blackhall Square. 9-24 June.
Go north. In Aberdeen (a more interesting and edgier city perhaps since oil wealth receded?) young women dancers clad in architectural costumes explore the relationship of their bodies to traditionally patriarchal, city-fathered civic design. The promenade performance Facades Flats leads from the Anatomy Rooms (of course) on 16 June.
Westward to Argyle where Shore to Shore brings a remarkable posse of poets to Dunoon. Led by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, it includes Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay, National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke, and Queens Gold medal winner Imtiaz Dharker along with Dunoon poet Tariq Latif and musical MC John Sampson. It’s the last stop of a 1,500 mile journey that began in Penarth in Wales, criss-crossing the UK on a route of independent bookshops before reaching Dunoon Burgh Hall. 23 June.
And what is Walking Heads doing in the programme? We’re pretty chuffed, for want of a better word, that Architecture Fringe has selected our submission. A Brisk Walk: Buildings at Risk is an architecture tour with a difference, inviting a new look at the threat and promise of derelict buildings. First made in collaboration with Architecture and Design Scotland in 2016 – the year Architecture Fringe was born – it opens with our guide Professor Johnny Rodger of GSA asking probing questions about dereliction in city centres. It’s not all doom and gloom. Dereliction can mean a happy new beginning as we find at the Clay Pipe Factory.
Download A Brisk Walk:buildings at risk – it’s FREE and available any time. As AF programme nicely puts it: ‘We are virtual’.
And take a meander through the full Architecture Fringe programme: June 8-24