Built Environment at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
Check out the built environment related events taking place at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.
Sat 12 Aug 4:30pm – 5:30pm
When a major city undergoes regeneration, there are always some cons among the obvious pros. In Disappearing Glasgow, artist and photographer Chris Leslie and Professor of Architecture Johnny Rodger present a joint project exploring how Glasgow’s communities were affected by a post-war modernist experiment which destroyed slums in favour of vast tower block estates. The pair discuss why this high-rise revolution was doomed to failure.
Sun 13 Aug 11:00am – 12:00pm
When Voltaire said, ‘We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation’ he was mainly thinking of Edinburgh. It may no longer be the intellectual hub of the western world, but as Sheila Szatkowski shows in Enlightenment Edinburgh, a guide to the 18th century city, it is still recognisably the same place it was in David Hume’s day.
Sun 13 Aug 12:30pm – 1:30pm
An hour of pure Edinburgh indulgence in the form of a personal journey exploring the city. For A Sketchbook of Edinburgh, Iain Fraser and Anne Fraser Sim, owners of the Elephant House café, have commissioned 150 works from four local artists to illustrate their favourite journeys through the city, and they provide an accompanying cultural, historical and architectural commentary.
Sun 13 Aug 7:15pm – 8:15pm
In St Peter’s, Cardross, architectural historian Diane M Watters and Angus Farquhar, Creative Director of the Glasgow-based arts organisation NVA, tell the fascinating story of the short-lived (1966-79) Catholic seminary that has been called both the best and the worst Scottish building of the 20th century. Derelict for years, it will soon be brought into renewed use as a cultural space. Chaired by Susan Mansfield.
Mon 14 Aug 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Our Writing the City events continue with a fascinating conversation between novelist, commentator and psychogeographer Will Self and Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics. Taking inspiration from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Self and Sennett explore how the writer inhabits a city and how their creativity shapes the buildings around them. Presented in partnership with Theatrum Mundi.
Mon 14 Aug 3:45pm – 4:45pm
Though written in 1933, the Charter of Athens still defines how and why cities are built. The Quito Papers is an ambitious global project, led by Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen, which is rethinking the vision of how towns and cities are built in the 21st century. Having been to Beijing, London, New York, and Cumbernauld on our ReimagiNation tour, they present their vision to Edinburgh.
Mon 14 Aug 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Scottish theatre maker Ishbel McFarlane’s Plan is an interactive performance involving a game in which you and your fellow ‘jurors’ build your own imaginary New Town. A show about utopias and refugees, Plan offers a thought-provoking spin on how countries are reshaped following conflict, and has formed a central part of the Book Festival’s ReimagiNation tour of Scotland’s New Towns.
Sun 20 Aug 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Alan McKirdy takes the long view in Edinburgh: Landscapes in Stone, going back 350 million years to when its future site was under a very active volcano. John Peacock, by contrast, begins The Story of Edinburgh a mere 10,000 years ago, with the arrival of the first Mesolithic explorers, ending with the battles between conservationists and planners in the present.
Sun 20 Aug 6:45pm – 7:45pm
How best to tell the story of Scotland’s history? A good way would be to do what Historic Environment Scotland have done – assemble a bunch of fine authors to write about the 25 buildings that have shaped this country, starting 5,000 years ago at the Knap of Howar on Papa Westray. Join James Crawford, Alexander McCall Smith, Alistair Moffat and James Robertson for a scintillating hour. Chaired by Ruth Wishart.
Mon 21 Aug 3:45pm – 4:45pm
Depending on your view, our modern cities are either a triumph of design or the result of architectural tyranny. Critic Tom Dyckhoff examines the radical facelifts our urban spaces have been given over the last half century and concludes that certain experiments backfired. Novelist and architecture writer Christopher Beanland explores the brutalist strand of buildings, and wonders why concrete is so controversial. Chaired by Claire Armitstead.
Wed 23 Aug 4:30pm – 5:30pm
Seventy years ago the New Towns Act was established, aiming to build new urban spaces with emerging industry, sanitary housing and plenty of green space. Cumbernauld is one such New Town, and for this event author and STV’s People’s Historian Daniel Gray, who played a key role in our ReimagiNation: Cumbernauld Festival in May, talks to some of the original residents about their experiences of living in this ‘utopia’.
Thu 24 Aug 7:30pm – 9:00pm
The 18th century philosopher Voltaire is often quoted as saying ‘we look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation’. By that, he meant ‘rules of taste in all the arts, from epic poetry to gardening.’ Does Scotland retain that reputation today? How can its citizens live up to the high standards of their Enlightenment forebears? Join three speakers with different perspectives: celebrated folk singer Karine Polwart; Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Thomas McEachan; and technology entrepreneur Chris van der Kuyl, whose Dundee-based company led the development of Minecraft.
Sat 26 Aug 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Cartographer, explorer and co-presenter of BBC’s Coast, Nicholas Crane has turned his hand to painting a true picture of how the British landscape came about – from the evolution of modern cities and countrysides beginning 12,000 years ago with melting glaciers and Mesolithic adventurers, to our contemporary dramas of climate change and global economics. Today Crane asks, what comes next?
Mon 28 Aug 3:45pm – 4:45pm
Green Belts serve many purposes but it’s unlikely that many of us could point to exactly where they lie. Bookseller and publisher, John Grindrod, has a personal connection to the issues revolving around these mystery zones. He delves into the creation and development of the Green Belt, uncovering a fascinating and sometimes bamboozling history.
Mon 28 Aug 7:30pm – 9:00pm
In ancient Greece, an agora was a place for public assembly; the centre for political life and for spiritual and artistic activity. Today, in a digital era when equality and freedom of speech remain fragile, how much do we need public gathering places like the agora? Join the debate with our panel including NVA’s Angus Farquhar, who is creating the New Agora as a key programme at St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross.BACK