Built Environment at Edinburgh International Book Festival

Check out the built environment related events taking place at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this August.


From Carbon’s Casualties to Climate Solutions

Sun 11 Aug 19:30 – 21:00

Since 2015, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Josh Haner has documented the realities of climate change across the globe. His photo series Carbon’s Casualties explores the many consequences of a warming world, offering the space to consider solutions. Join us for a special discussion with Haner, acclaimed Australian novelist and campaigner Tim Winton and Laura Watts, whose Energy at the End of World offers a way forward through Orkney’s role as a centre for energy innovation. In collaboration with Beyond Borders.



Siân Reynolds & Sara Sheridan

Mon 12 Aug 10:30 – 11:30

Meet two women on a feminist mission. Former Stirling University professor Siân Reynolds is one of the editors of The New Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women. Join her in conversation with local author Sara Sheridan whose guidebook Where Are The Women? is a radical reimagining of Scottish heritage and landscape to include the women who were there all along. Chaired by Susan Stewart.



Michael Anderson

Tue 13 Aug 11:00 – 12:00

Distinguished academic Michael Anderson – a stalwart at the University of Edinburgh for 40 years who has been honoured with an OBE – discusses the change in Scotland’s population since the 1850s. Exploring issues such as rural settlement, migration, deprivation and industrial investment, Anderson offers a comparison between Scotland’s population shifts and those in the rest of Europe.



Alan Powers

Sat 17 Aug 17:30 – 18:30

In its centenary year, the Bauhaus art school’s legacy continues to gather momentum. Art curator and journalist Alan Powers adds to the discussion with Bauhaus Goes West, which looks at how the movement landed in Britain and America following the closure of the original school by the Nazis in 1933. Through this event, Powers seeks to re-evaluate the influence of Bauhaus on modern art and design.



Murray Pittock

Sun 18 Aug 10:30 – 11:30

Professor of English Literature at Glasgow University, Murray Pittock’s work focuses on Edinburgh and its civic development across the 17th and 18th centuries. Some of the main drivers of national cultural change, including newspapers, gentry politics and coffee house culture, were based in the city but what was the real reason for Edinburgh’s Enlightenment? Find out as Pittock discusses his fascinating study with John Gordon.



Tom Devine

Sun 18 Aug 18:45 – 19:45

The Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries helped shape the nation we know today, but historians have struggled to define what happened. Scotland’s leading historian, Sir Tom Devine, brings us The Scottish Clearances, his authoritative, readable and even-handed account. Today, he sets the record straight, conjuring the voices of the dispossessed and exploding myths about this defining period for Scotland and its people.



Philip Long & Joanna Norman

Mon 19 Aug 10:00 – 11:00

Philip Long is director of the V&A Dundee and co-editor of The Story of Scottish Design. Together with Joanna Norman, curator of the museum’s Scottish Design Galleries, Long presents a broad survey of 500 years of great Scottish design and pioneering designers, from textiles to technology, furniture to video games. Long and Norman discuss the importance of design (and a certain new building).



Tracey Thorn

Mon 19 Aug 20:30 – 21:30

Returning to our roots can be tough, revealing and, as Tracey Thorn discovers in Another Planet, inspiring. The singer-songwriter behind Everything But The Girl follows up her bestselling Bedsit Disco Queen with a wonderfully witty walk through the maligned suburbia of her youth. Today, Thorn shares hilarious recollections of the physical and emotional cul-de-sacs of her Green Belt upbringing and its lasting impact.



Miles Glendinning, Stefan Muthesius & Stefi Orazi

Tue 20 Aug 12:30 – 13:30

Britain faces a housing crisis: what can the nation’s last major building scheme teach us? Architectural historians Miles Glendinning and Stefan Muthesius analyse the high-rise revolution in Towers for the Welfare State. Stefi Orazi widens the perspective with Modernist Estates — Europe, exploring some of the continent’s housing schemes with input from residents. Today they debate the social impact of what we build.



Ellie Harrison & Jemma Neville

Tue 20 Aug 14:00 – 15:00

Meet two activists who dig beneath the stereotypes to real lived experience. Jemma Neville campaigned for human rights law, and in Constitution Street explores global rights issues through the stories of the residents of one road in Leith. ‘Think Global, Act Local’ is the inspiration for artist-activist Ellie Harrison, and in her new book The Glasgow Effect she sheds light on the inequality and disconnection of people in Glasgow communities, putting forward a new vision for sustainable living. The two authors discuss their ideas with fellow writer and social historian Daniel Gray.



Finlay McKichan

Wed 21 Aug 11:00 – 12:00

Francis Humberston Mackenzie was a complex man: a profoundly deaf Scot who became Governor of Barbados; a benevolent Highland landowner during the Clearances who went on to own a slave plantation – and fight for slaves rights. Historian Finlay McKichan’s study Lord Seaforth, discussed today, reassesses his story, the connections between Highland and Caribbean communities, and the end of the imperial slave trade.



Iain Sinclair

Wed 21 Aug 11:45 – 12:45

Among our finest voices on the significance of place, Welsh writer and filmmaker Iain Sinclair health checks our relationships with buildings across the world in Living with Buildings and Walking with Ghosts. From Marseille to Mexico, inner London to the Outer Hebrides, Sinclair wonders whether buildings might be affecting our health. Today he shares discoveries on why we project hopes and fears onto structures.



Who Owns Scotland’s Land?

Fri 23 Aug 10:00 – 11:00

Land ownership has been a contentious source of conflict throughout Scotland’s history. Public access and a belief in sharing the landscape has clashed with the economic power and influence held within the land. We explore these issues and the feasibility of land tax with our panel, which includes Andrew Thin, Chair of the Scottish Land Commission, author of Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power Alastair McIntosh and publisher and former member of the Scottish Land Review Agnes Rennie. In partnership with Quakers in Scotland.



Mike Berners-Lee

Sun 25 Aug 14:00 – 15:00

Warnings of looming environmental catastrophe rain down on us with increasing frequency, and only the most ardent climate change sceptics deny we live at a crucial point for the Earth’s future. Join sustainability expert Mike Berners-Lee in conversation with WWF’s Tanya Steele, as he cuts through the noise with practical advice on how we can avoid calamity, drawn from his book There is No Planet B, a ‘Handbook for the Make or Break Years’.

For the full programme visit the Edinburgh International Book Festival website.