International Workshop at COWGATE University

IN 2002, A FIRE DEVASTATED a particularly critical corner of Edinburgh. 369 Cowgate was an important address for a number of reasons, not least among which was that it was also an address on South Bridge.

Crammed into the corner between a medieval street and the eighteenth century bridge which had been built across it some six stories above, the site was a labyrinth that had taken centuries of unforeseen consequences to evolve.

IN SEPTEMBER 2009, fifty young interior designers met in Edinburgh to solve a problem that the city’s finest architects have failed, so far, to solve.

The medium we gave them to play with was not space, or building, but time.

The students were divided into groups, and set no specific conditions, other than one:duration. The shortest project for the fire site could last for no more than five seconds, the longest for no less than five millennia. In between stretched minutes, hours days, weeks, years, decades, and centuries.

At the end of the workshop, the students were then asked to represent their proposals not in drawing or models, but in short films. Working to scale is hardly new; but here the dimension in question was time rather than space: the five minute group were working at 1:1, the five second group at 60:1, and the 5000 year group at 5256000:1.

But more importantly, the use of the moving image to describe their projects compelled the students to narrate them. They had to bring the, designs out of the fixity of the drawing or the model, and turn them, instead, into stories that unfolded, flowered into life, wilted and died, in time.

International Masters in Interior Architecture and Design
Faculty of Design



Participating Universities:

  • Istanbul Technical University-ITU,
    Istanbul / Turkey
  • Edinburgh University College of Art-ECA,
    Edinburgh / Scotland
  • Lahti University of Applied Sciences-LUAS,
    Lahti / Finland
  • Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana-SUPSI,
    Lugano / Switzerland
  • Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences-HFT,
    Stuttgart / Germany
  • The Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University-CEPT,
    Ahmedabad / India