Talk: Diarmaid Lawlor on Being ‘Public’

Add to Scrapbook

Diarmaid Lawlor, Head of Urbanism at Architecture and Design Scotland will talk about the concept of ‘being public’ reflecting on streets, society and the challenge of being ‘public’.

It is interesting to reflect on the fact that about 80% of the public space of our cities and towns are streets. The street is a place to be public. The legislation underpinning most streets in most places suggests that ‘any reasonable act’ is permissible. People can gather. Protests can happen. Exchange is permitted. Conflict can happen.

In the past, streets were the spaces where some of the necessary aspects of our public life were provided. They were sites of shopping, of meeting, of working. Being public was about doing what you had to do, in a public place. Today, being public is a much more complex issue. How we engage with each other is different. What we do is different. How we use spaces, and what we expect of them is different. And yet, when the public nature of the public space of our streets is highlighted, often through conflict, we do reflect, rightly or wrongly on the issue of ‘being public’. What is appropriate, who is appropriate, where is appropriate? What is public?

The pavilion in St.Andrew’s Square is an interesting space to talk about the idea of ‘being public’. Situated, as it is in a public space, its transparency permits visual connection between those inside and those outside. There is nowhere to hide, but to engage in the conversations in the space, and engage in the wider situation of the place.

Wednesday 24 August 1-2pm, Edinburgh Art Festival Pavilion, St. Andrew Square Gardens, EH1

Tickets are free but need to be booked from the following webpage:-


Place and leadership

The cross-party group of the Scottish Parliament on Architecture and the Built Environment were presented with the findings of...

Scroll to top