Edinburgh is pushing ahead with plans to set up an annual architecture festival and build a brand-new design centre. despite losing out to Glasgow in the bid to become i999 City of Architecture and Design.
Peter Wilson. director of the architecture festival called Manifesto which starts this week. denied Edinburgh was ‘thumbing its nose' at Glasgow. but said the plans were a natural continuation ofthe bid process. ‘There had been a lot of legwork and it seemed daft to throw the momentum away.’ said Wilson. ‘lt has given us better opportunities in some ways because we are free of the Arts Council agenda and local authority influence.‘
The two-week festival includes a major exhibition at the City Arts Centre about the influence of American architecture on European building a programme of architecture-related ﬁlms at the Fiimhouse and a series of lunchtime lectures called ‘Provocations'. which are intended to provoke heated debate amongst architects.
Meanwhile Edinburgh District Council has just announced the winner of a competition to design the proposed architecture centre at Haymarket.
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which it is hoped will become a focus for public debate on the urban environment. ‘This will be a national facility — a place where large projects cart be explained and understood by the public.‘ said council leader Lesley Hinds.
Design centres are common across Europe. but are a little understood idea in this country. according to Roger Emmerson. an architecture lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art. ‘The objectives are fine. but the problem with such a centre may be that there is no culture in the population at large to discuss these things. and there is an
f“ “f «3» “ .‘
elitism among professional architects that they only want to speak to other architects.‘ he said.
Like many professional architects in Scotland. Etntnerson regrets that Glasgow and Edinburgh didn‘t bid jointly. But there had to be a winner and Glasgow is now planning for the l999 event. with a full—time director due to be appointed shortly. The city council hopes the architecture and design centre that formed a central part of its successful bid will open sometime next year. The centre will be housed in the former Glasgow Herald building. known as the Lighthouse. Habitat. the company which probably did more than most to bring interior design into ordinary homes. will open a new shop on the ground floor.
After choosing a new sofa. the public will be encouraged to check out the exhibitions and debate architectural issues. ‘We want to share our vision of Glasgow with the people who live here.‘ the bid document stated. ‘The Lighthouse will be a place to be enthused and informed.‘ And if you don‘t fancy looking at scale models of
new buildings. you‘ll be able to grab a cappuccino in the designer cafe. (Eddie
Work beneﬁt is ‘keeping wages down’
Government plans for supporting the low-paid with in-work beneiits have come under fire as the Scottish low Pay Unit renews calls ior a national
Peter Kelly, researcher with the SLPU said the in-work beneiits currently being piloted by the Department of Social Security were eiiectively subsidising low-paying employers.
In a report to be published shortly, the SLPU argues Scotland’s economy has been leit to decline while rewards for those at the top have increased. Meanwhile low paid workers have lost employment rights and the unemployed have seen benefits shrink.
‘According to a recent survey 35 per cent of the poorest section oi society get their income irom paid
employment,’ claimed Kelly. ‘This
scotches the myth that all poor people are on benefits.’
The SLPU wants to see fair wages promoted through employment grant
r schemes and rights projects.
‘Presenting Scotland to the world and the world to Scotland’ is the claim made by a newly ionned partnership oi Scottish museums, which have leit their dusty archives and are heading straight for the inionnation superhighway. The aim is to make museums’ ‘edu-tainment’ iunction more appealing to a generation brought up on Nintendo and Sega.
As of now, Scotland’s museums are on- line, with plans to build up a giant electronic library oi images and inionnation drawn irom their collections. The £15 million project has been made possible with a £15 million grant irom the National lottery’s Millenium Commission. The project, known as the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SGRAN), will give the public and educational institutions access to
Glasgow and Edinburgh i
Edinburgh architecture centre, designed by Norwegian architects Narud- Stokke-Wilg
Scottish museums and galleries’ collections via the lnternet-
The National Museums of Scotland, the lead partner in the project, is already committed to developing multi-media education packs and has just launched its iirst GD-Rom, which
design centre racei
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stores huge amounts of images and text on a compact disc. A condition of the Millenium funding is that SGRAN produces 100 Gil-Roms oi museum archive material by the end oi the decade.
The technology will allow a more
‘cinematic’ approach to teaching history, according to SCRAN’s acting director Mike Spearman. ‘We’re looking at a tremendous shift in teaching skills which is driven by technology, whether we like it or not,’ he said, ‘and it’s being driven by the kids for the first time.’
The electronic archive project is the iirst oi its kind in the UK, and is being regarded as particularly important for Scotland which has many remote schools with no access to museums and galleries. SCRAN will provide teaching material previously
unavailable, but Speannan believes that, more importantly, it will change the whole way history is taught. “What is traditionally taught is the history at documents, but we’re interested in the visual images that tell the story,’ he said. (Eddie Gibb)
SCRAII’s world wide web site contains more information on the praiect and can be found at: http://www.nms.ac.tdr/
Whilst the Constitutional Convention‘s proposals might not prompt dancing in the streets. they should give a quiet glow of satisfaction.
After all. we can look forward to a Parliament where the dominant political party agrees to give up the certain advantage it would secure from the dictatorship of the ‘ﬁrst past the post‘ system in favour ofa more representative democracy. This will certainly see more women sitting in the Chamber than any Parliament elected in the UK. and will sweep away the system of patronage which is exercised by the Secretary of State through his
While the main political parties argue over Scotland's future in the UK, the Constitutional Convention should be looking further afield, says Kevin Dunion.
appointments to let) quangos.
What is most striking about this document. compared to the plans of the 70s. is that it is not a grudging concession to nationalism. but a confident agenda for better self- governance. However. in those new and exciting areas such as the application of subsidiary principle. more work is required. For instance. the document says that foreign affairs will be entirely left to Westminster; but there is no reconciliation of that restriction with
the European role envisaged. and there is no discussion of what is to happen to the international dimension of domestic ; functions. such as health or environment policy. The Convention foresees the Parliament at a Council of Ministers meeting dealing with energy. but not at the UN Commission for Sustainable Development dealing with climate change.
Despite the so-called six years hard labour. it has to be said that some were left fallow. arid thus there is still a great
Gall for Scottish Parliament to be given foreign policy role
deal of detail to come This has left tlte impression of an Airlix model being glued together without all the bits being
identified. 'l‘lte question Is not.
however. does it look pretty. bttt will it
I fly.) With a degree of refinement. there is little doubt that a change of
government w ill see it off the ground.
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4 The List 3- 16 Nov l995