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.
WEdesign in-person events are safe spaces for diverse audiences to come together to explore challenging issues and to work collaboratively to generate ideas and solutions, co-designing propositions for changes to culture, policy and practice through hands-on making activities, discussion and debate.
These events are co-facilitated by students in our WEdesign Student Programme, in collaboration with our partner universities in cities across the UK. We link the event theme with the students’ work and studies, so that they gain experience of applying what they are studying into a real life context, while bringing new learning, energy and ideas into the discussion and co-design activities.
Our online events create provocative spaces for conversation and are open to participants across the UK and further afield. Our series of Think Pieces brings together a series of blogs from a range of voices to explore the WEdesign series theme.
To enrich both of these spaces, we invite external contributors from diverse communities, sectors and disciplines to challenge the status quo with contributions that kick-start discussion and debate and challenge us all to think differently.
We partner with higher education institutions across the UK, to mentor and upskill students, enabling them to co-facilitate our public events. WEdesign creates a supported space for students to explore real world design and placemaking issues with a diverse audience. They work with communities, professionals and policy makers as equals within a collaborative creative space.
To help students step into this space with confidence and to learn more about both collaborative design and facilitation, we link the event theme into the students’ work and studies, so that they gain experience of applying what they are studying into a real life context, and bring their learning and ideas into public debate.
Current series theme and programme
People, Place, Planet is our theme for the 2023/24 WEdesign series.
As we continue to shape our places, we are faced with the huge challenge of balancing our personal needs, the collective needs of our communities and those of our increasingly fragile planet.
This series, with events online and in London, Sheffield, Newcastle and Glasgow, will aim to identify and explore the opportunities and synergies that exist when we strive to balance people, place and planet in placemaking.
How can we think differently about how we shape our places? How can we collaborate more through design and placemaking to value and respect people, place and planet equally?
To find out more about the full 2023/24 series, visit our People, Place, Planet page here.
Working with our supportive university partners has been pivotal to the development of WEdesign. We simply could not deliver the WEdesign Programme without their collaboration, time and input. As well as helping us connect with students and their learning programmes, they help bring a local context to our in-person events, and each injects new ideas and elements into the events.
This year’s partners are:
- Sheffield School of Architecture at University of Sheffield
- Bartlett School of Planning, UCL
- Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art
- Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
Since 2022, the Ove Arup Foundation has supported our WEdesign programme, and specifically our work with higher education in this space. We are extremely grateful for their continued interest and support, which has helped us develop our Student Programme alongside our series of events.
History of WEdesign
WEdesign is the evolution of our national events programme that launched in 2007, with our first series of Glass-House Debates. From the outset, our event series and accompanying think pieces have brought together a broad range of partners, contributors and audiences across the UK to explore challenging issues around design quality, place equity and the role of communities and cross-sector collaboration in placemaking.
WEdesign, first introduced as the new name for our national event series in 2018, builds on this tradition of a safe space for conversation with diverse voices to also include more active and creative spaces involving co-design activities. Through this approach, we encourage people to express themselves through crafting and modelling as well as through words, and aim to create more dynamic and accessible spaces. Rather than the traditional format of speaker and an audience, WEdesign now also offers our event audiences the unique opportunity for people to collaborate and imagine ‘what if’ scenarios, creating propositions for change through co-design.
In 2020, responding to the covid pandemic and to help us to create interactive spaces for co-design online, our WEdesign format evolved again to work with students from partner universities, inviting them into our events as co-facilitators. WEdesign now includes a Student Programme of mentoring and training for students, which sits outside their main studies and gives them facilitation skills, co-design techniques and increases confidence with public speaking and group interaction.