The People, Place, Planet event series encouraged participants to identify and explore the opportunities and synergies that exist when we strive to balance people, place and planet in placemaking.


WEdesign is The Glass-House’s annual series of free interactive public events, held online and in-person in cities across the UK, where we explore collaborative design in placemaking through discussion, debate and playful co-design activities.

This year we worked with our partner universities, students and guest speakers and contributors around the UK to delve into the question of how we can balance our personal needs, the collective needs of our communities and those of our increasingly fragile planet. 

We welcomed participants in person to co-design events in London, Glasgow, Sheffield and Newcastle, all of which were co-designed and co-facilitated with our university partner tutors and students. Online we were joined by participants from across the UK and internationally for our Debate and Chat events, as well as creating a platform for inspiring voices through our series of Think Pieces.  

All of our events were captured and shared with our networks through blogs written by The Glass-House team, partners, event participants and participating student facilitators.

We are grateful for our continued support of our university partnerships and student programme by The Ove Arup Foundation, which has enabled us to develop the programme further, empowering and inspiring students, partners and event participants to connect differently with design, placemaking and each other.

Online programme

People, Place, Planet: The Debate

Our 2023/24 WEdesign series kicked off with our opening event, People, Place, Planet: The Debate. We were joined virtually, by 50 participants from across the UK with varied interests and backgrounds, by diverse professionals and students. 

Using the theme of People, Place, Planet as our starting point, we invited our three speakers to offer their thoughts and provocations on the theme, through a series of five-minute presentations. The debate was chaired by Sophia de Sousa, Chief Executive at The Glass-House.

The speakers were:

  • Doug King – an engineer specialising in urban energy master plans and resource strategies.
  • Betty Owoo – a spatial and educational designer currently working with Barking & Dagenham Council.
  • Holly Doron – who is an architect based in Dudley, with a background in participatory design and teaching.

This was followed by a stimulating and thought-provoking discussion with generous contributions from the event attendees. 

You can read more about People, Place, Planet: The Debate here.


Glass-House Chats: People, Place, Planet

Our People, Place Planet Chat, a special edition Glass-House Chat, was part of a series of our monthly one hour sessions, which explore different topical placemaking provocations in a safe, informal online space that invites discussion and debate. 

Conversation during the Chat focused on: how people perceive the environment around them; how we design with and for everyone; ownership (real and perceived)  of outdoor/public space; the challenges and issues with current funding models; and how we can actually make change through current legislation.

You can read more about Glass-House Chats: People, Place, Planet here.


People, Place, Planet: Think Pieces 

In January, we launched our series of WEdesign Think Pieces, with blogs on the theme of People, Place, Planet added weekly from a range of inspiring voices across sectors and disciplines. This year we increased the number of Think Piece contributors, which has resulted in a collection of provocative, engaging and quite personal blogs from a diverse range of voices.

This included:

Laura Alvarez, Senior Principal Urban Design and Conservation Officer at Nottingham City Council, explores the meaning of ‘place’ and ‘home’ within the built environment today. 

Grace Crannis, Senior Planning Engagement Officer at Richmond and Wandsworth Councils and Co-director of design studio Syrup, explores the theme through the lens of leadership and accountability in placemaking.

Stephanie Edwards, architect, urban designer and co-founder of Urban Symbiotics, considers the role of AI in co-designing our future cities.

Tessa Forde, architect and lecturer at Auckland University of Technology’s Huri Te Ao, explores People, Place Planet through the lens of nourishing and gathering in architecture.

Nicola Greenan, then lead for Cultural Partnerships at Bradford Council and now CEO at Tyneside Cinema, focuses on the importance of culture for all.

Hajir Kheder, Community Engagement Manager at Karakusevic Carson Architects, explores the power of social value in harnessing the vitality of communities, neighbourhoods and environment.

Rebecca Magdin and Michael Howcroft Rebecca Madgin and Michael Howcroft set out some of the key challenges for place-based policy and how Phase Two of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Place Programme seeks to overcome them.

Susan May, Head of Housing Design at Urban Design Learning, offers some thoughts on how we can better join up the needs of People, Place and our Planet. 

Cam Smith, Impact & Feedback Coordinator at Hastings Commons ,explores the theme of People, Place, Planet through the work of Hastings Commons in the White Rock area of Hastings in East Sussex.

Zóra Tamás, Community Engagement Officer for Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Nextdoor Nature Programme, explores People, Place, Planet and the concept of ‘outside’.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive at Historic England, considers the theme through the lens of heritage and the power of repurposing.

Our People, Place, Planet: Think Pieces series is available to read in full on our website here.


In-person co-design events

Inclusive Crisis Recovery 

Alan Baxter Gallery, London

5 February 2024

Our first in-person event, in collaboration with tutors and students from UCL Bartlett’s School of Planning, brought together a fantastic mix of participants to explore how we can be more equitable and inclusive in how we respond to crises, and in our placemaking strategy to mitigate against it.   

The event included:

  • An introduction from PHD student Marilia Ilia Kastrouni, who contextualised the theme and introduced the student facilitators. 
  • A warm up activity which encourages participants to give their viewpoint on our series theme, People, Place, Planet.
  • A co-design activity led by and a group of BA, MA and PhD students exploring themes of a more inclusive and equitable response to crisis.
  • An insightful summary discussion bringing together common threads of conversation around how we might work together to better shape our places.

Read about Inclusive Crisis Recovery in our summary blog here.

Read event participant and Glass-House Enabler Stephen Smith’s blog here.

Read event participant Shuqui Miao’s blog here.


The Leisure Society 

Live Works, Sheffield

28 February 2024

Our second in-person event was a collaboration with tutors and students from the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture and Live Works. We brought together students, practitioners, academics and community-based groups and activists to explore the role leisure plays in our daily lives, and how we interact with and shape our places and environments for and through our leisure activities.

At this event:

  • Event participants were welcomed to the space with a warm up activity which encouraged them to think about the theme of People, Place and Planet.
  • Leo Care introduced the theme of The Leisure Society and how it connected with the students’ studies. 
  • Participants took part in a co-design activity facilitated by the students using the lenses of Ecology, Education, Practice and Community. 
  • A fruitful discussion where participants were able to come back together to explore their ideas and thoughts following their collaborative task.

Read about The Leisure Society in our summary blog here.

Read student facilitator Sam Penrose’s blog here.

Read event participant Zelda Hannay’s blog here.


The Ethical City

Civic House, Glasgow

5 March 2024 

The Ethical City, in collaboration with Missing in Architecture and students and tutors from the Mackintosh School of Architecture, attracted a large, diverse audience from all walks of life. We explored the role of placemakers in addressing concerns facing the city, such as sustainability, inclusivity, social cohesion and community resources, and how the city facilitates and nurtures society.

At this event:

  • Student illustrators from Glasgow School of Art created live drawings throughout the event, capturing themes, discussion and conversations.
  • Our student facilitators created a warm up activity which encouraged participants to think about which lens they selected to explore during the evening.
  • Tutor Miranda Webster from Mackintosh School of Architecture and Missing in Architecture, introduced the students and the work they have been doing as part of the course.
  • The students facilitated a fast paced co-design activity which encouraged event participants and student facilitators to work together to explore The Ethical City theme through four lenses:  ecology, communication, policy and education. 
  • At the end we came together as a group for a discussion where we pulled out some common threads and provocations that had emerged throughout the evening.

Read about The Ethical City in our summary blog here. 

Read university partner Miranda Webster’s blog here.


Urban Futures: Sharing Capacity and Resources 

Newcastle University, Newcastle

19 March 2024

Our final WEdesign event of the season was in collaboration with Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. Urban Futures: Sharing Capacity and Resources brought together another great mix of people to explore how applying the principles of co-housing, sharing resources around shared values and objectives, might help us shape our cities better and more equitably.

At this event:

  • Students created a series of engaging warm up activities for event participants to take part in when they arrived, exploring the event theme within the context of Newcastle.
  • Tutor Armelle Tardiveau introduced the event theme.
  • Students facilitated a co-design activity with event participants across five tables exploring the theme using the lenses: Community, Education, Practice, Policy and Ecology.
  • The event ended with an interesting group discussion exploring common themes and topics.

Read about Urban Futures in our summary blog here.

Read event participant Peter Hetherington’s blog here.


This year’s programme People, Place, Planet, saw an increase in public attendance at our online and in-person events. We were joined by a diverse mix of participants, representing a range of ages and generations, cultural backgrounds and both lived and professional experience. This created a fantastic opportunity for our WEdesign students to connect and collaborate with a range of different people and we enjoyed a safe space for conversations about challenging issues and themes. 

We also expanded our Think Piece series to include a wider range of thoughts and viewpoints from a diverse range of voices. These gained a lot of interest form our audience and lead to some interesting provocations around our series theme of People, Place, Planet

Building on feedback from last year’s students we made improvements to our student development programme, creating a student resource guide and increasing the amount of our face-to face time with the students, offering them more support and time to plan the events and develop facilitation skills.  

This series has continued to cement our strong collaborations with our University partners who have continued to see the benefits of taking part in WEdesign, especially the opportunity it offers their students to engage with the public outside of the traditional academic learning environment.

Student Quotes

“It felt a real privilege to be part of it. I learned so much!”

“My wisdom was valued and I valued their wisdom too”

“I found the process of building a concept and the messiness of it was reassuring and refreshing”

“I learnt more about co-design and the value of others’ lived experience and expertise”

“I want to do it again, as it changes how you see design and conceptualise space in addition to the generationality of the event”

“I should be more open to others being more open”

Participant Quotes

“To see the young students speak with such passion and articulation of their ideas was wonderful. …There is something refreshing about people 40-50 years apart debating the same ideas and thoughts… it was such a great mix of youth and experience, backgrounds and opinions” 

“Renewed faith that there are young people thinking and advocating for a more active, just and equal society”

“Powerful collaboration = meaningful action!”

“Everybody’s opinion matters and should be heard and given space”

“Experimental and playful creativity as a tool for research is fantastic and needs to be utilised more in education”

“Really glad I took the risk of coming to the event tonight. … was a learning ground for me with exchanges all over the place”


Read our People, Place, Planet summary publication here

People, Place, Planet  Event Blogs

Inclusive Crisis Recovery by Sophia de Sousa

The Leisure Society by Sophia de Sousa

The Ethical City by Jake Stephenson Bartley 

Urban Futures: Sharing Capacity and Resources by Louise Dennison

People, Place, Planet: The Debate by Louise Dennison

Glass-House Chats: People, Place, Planet by Louise Dennison

People, Place, Planet: Participant Blogs

The full collection of People, Place, Planet participants blogs is available here.

People, Place, Planet: Think Pieces: 

Our People, Place, Planet: Think Pieces series is available to read in full on our website here.