The Glass-House 2017/18 People on Place series took place in Edinburgh, Sheffield, Bristol and London, exploring why the design of our places matter, and what actions we can take to realise better places.

Project date: 2017-18

The Story

This series of discussions in the round brought together a wide-ranging audience from communities, practice, education and policy to explore the perspectives and realities of different experiences of place and placemaking: personal, professional and collective.

When design of the spaces and places where we live, work and play has a profound effect on our quality of life, we asked why we don’t all have the quality places we deserve and whether better connecting design with people can make for better places.

Much of the discussion revolved around the power of people taking action to shape their places through locally driven initiatives and the role that we can each play in making a difference.  The question of agency, and whether people generally feel empowered to make changes to their environment, sat alongside discussion on the differences between large-scale and smaller scale, more organic placemaking, and between the permanent and temporary changes that we can make to the places and spaces around us.

In exploring what we mean by great design, we recognised that while in some respects it is highly objective, there are some shared standards of quality that we should be aiming for, which are to do with supporting basic human rights, the interaction of people, and our physical, social, cultural and economic wellbeing.

The series was delivered in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council’s Urban Room, Live Works and Roco Creative-Co-op in Sheffield, and the Architecture Centre in Bristol.


Event participants were intrigued by, and appreciative of this in-the-round event format, which responded to calls from our audiences for more democratic spaces for discussion and debate. Those who took part valued this more intimate format, which created space for people to share stories, and to connect with new people. They enjoyed the variety of participants and range of points of views expressed.

Participant views on the events:

“Good to hear new and alternate perspectives on design”

“Great mix of experiences, views and ideas”

“Range of interesting opinions from a number of sides, well managed and open”

“The evening was relaxed and this gave a great opportunity to share ideas freely”

“I feel empowered and inspired.”