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Learning from Glas Vegas

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Welcome to the Glasgow Charrette, or, as we have dubbed it, Learning from Glas Vegas, a three-day urban design and lighting event held in Glasgow this past October

This is the third time we have worked with Philips Lighting to produce design events centred on urban design and lighting. Our strong working relationship began with last year’s Peckham Charrette, in which we paired six architects with lighting designers - and Southwark Council - to create a lighting strategy for the neighbourhood and new buildings for empty plots.

Our second collaboration was Lightshots in July this year, a short film competition for architects focused on capturing the effect of artificial light on the built environment.

Both projects were a roaring success, so the pressure on the AJ and Philips Lighting to come up with something special for Glasgow was intense. This time, Philips asked the AJ to devise a charrette-style workshop which would engage architects to consider lighting as a spur for great urban design.

Our idea was to ask 10 free-thinking studios to consider the townscape alongside the venue Philips had chosen for its lighting workshop - the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow’s Merchant City - and create a lighting strategy for it that would link it to an adjacent impoverished neighbourhood.

Another strand was that it should celebrate ‘northern-ness’ and the dark winter townscape of Scotland’s biggest city. The event began on a Monday night in the Central Hotel, where the participants met for dinner. Later that evening we walked the site the architects were asked to transform.

On the Tuesday morning we held seminars in Glasgow City Halls, which informed both the Philips-led lighting workshop and the AJ charrette taking place that afternoon in the neighbouring Fruitmarket. We ended the day with crits - and a meal altogether in the Merchant City.

The next morning we met in the Lighthouse, Glasgow’s centre for design and architecture, to reflect on the previous day’s work and listen to Peter McCaughey - our on-hand artist and charrette facilitator - discuss alternative approaches to how we can make the places we live even better than they already are.

As ever the architects and consultants we invited went further than we ever thought they could. We may have provide the stage, but they sprinkled the stardust. The result, of course, was magical.

Livable Cities

Philips Livable Cities enables professionals in urban development to discuss, explore and anticipate the future of European cities from the socio-cultural, outdoor environment and urban lighting perspectives. The programme has brought together more than 150 architects, urban planners and theoretical thinkers in totally different settings - from interviews in their offices in Turin, Hamburg, Helsinki, Glasgow, Wrocław and various locations in The Netherlands, to high-pressure and tight schedules of co‑design workshops in Bratislava, Copenhagen, Turnhout, Dubrovnik, Wrocław and Glasgow.

Philips Livable Cities included primary research and applicative workshops, ending with prototype design and the practical realisation of these designs in workshops. It found its purpose by enabling us to build a composite, coherent picture of the future of urban Europe as seen through the eyes of European ‘city makers’.

Glasgow concluded the Livable Cities programme with a workshop on 1 October. The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow, where 40 architects, landscape architects and urban planners gathered from The Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, England and Scotland, provided a unique setting.

The participants worked on two assignments. The first assignment was co-ordinated by AJ deputy editor Rory Olcayto. The second was headed by sociologist Marco Bevolo and lighting designer Tapio Rosenius. Here the challenge was to envision, create and implement a lighting concept responding to a focused selection among the 16 urban future scenarios.

Both workshops resulted in many new ideas, vibrant debate and intense teamwork, which led to specific visions and solutions.

Jaap van der Linden, senior manager business segment marketing, Urban Inspiration, Philips Lighting

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