Design skills symposium 2012 Report Published

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Design Skills Symposium 2012 Report

We are delighted to publish the report of the Design Skills Symposium 2012, which took place over two days in Ayr in October 2012. The focus was on how to create a brief to change a place. A mixed group of 115 professional participants worked enthusiastically in groups to generate propositions for the future of Ayr as a University town.

The symposium was a learning event. While Ayr provided the backdrop, the lessons apply anywhere in Scotland. The report therefore builds the methods and ideas generated at the symposium into a practical learning resource:

  1. mapping what happened at the symposium and how
  2. providing method statements on how to run a range of workshops
  3. drawing out conclusions from a synthesis of material generated at the event
  4. providing examples of graphic communication of spatial ideas.

Next steps

A+DS is committed to supporting the development of skills and capacity of those involved in place-making in Scotland. Feedback from delegates at the symposium identified a range of issues that could help support their ongoing learning. You might be interested to read about the following immediate action taken in response to the feedback:


Feedback from the symposium suggested practitioners would value the opportunity to meet more regularly, discuss issues and share examples of practice / experience. Progress has since been made in establishing a Local Authority Urban Design Forum. An initial meeting was facilitated by A+DS in November, with 33 participants from 20 local authorities and public bodies. Support was established for the forum and consensus formed around the purpose, objectives and roles. A small group are taking forward development of the forum and we anticipate the next full meeting in May.

Graphic skills

Feedback suggested a demand for improved learning around graphic skills. A+DS has commissioned an introductory programme on graphics for place-making. This will be a practical online design skills programme, supporting built environment professionals with little or no previous experience of graphic software. Through a series of linked exercises you can expect to quickly gain some competence in essential graphics techniques, enabling you to:

  • Represent environments in two and three dimensions
  • Develop the skills to explain your ideas for specific place changes graphically
  • Visually communicate your ideas in a way that others understand, respect and find engaging.

The programme will start a process of arming users with the skills for creative, confident and proactive planning and designing. Professionals who have mastered graphics software should feel able to work more creatively, to influence for positive impacts on our rapidly changing towns and cities. A full programme is currently under development, for an expected launch in early summer 2013. A short ‘taster’ extract of the course is available here.

Design Skills Symposium 2012

The Architecture and Design Scotland Design Skills Symposium 2012 began with a big challenge – to learn how to create a brief to change a place.

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