What if…?/ Scotland  – shared hopes, dreams and wishes for our places

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Award winning Edinburgh based architecture and design practice 7N Architectsin partnershipwith Architecture & Design Scotland, will present their Scotland + Venice commission What if…?/Scotland at V&A Dundee from Saturday 22 May until Sunday 21 November 2021.

Designed to be staged in Venice as part of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, What if…?/Scotland responds to the Biennale’s theme How will we live together?, seeking to re-engage the civic role of design professionals by asking communities from across Scotland to share their hopes and dreams for the future of the places they call home.

Community collaboration

At the start of 2020 and prior to the first nationwide lockdown, 7N paired 25 people from 5 places: Wester Hailes in Edinburgh, Paisley in Renfrewshire, Annan in Dumfries and Galloway, Elgin in Morayshire, and Lerwick in Shetland – with 25 designers, architects, and artists – to share their hopes, dreams or wishes for the future of the place where they live.

The architects and designers then used these wishes to begin exploring ideas in response to community challenges being faced. As we emerge from the latest lockdown, the notion of people in Scotland’s communities coming together to plan for a better future has never been more important.

This collaborative process has been captured in a series of short films by film maker Basharat Khan forming the narrative focus of the exhibition. The stories of each place, as told by its citizens and set within the rich and varied landscapes of rural and urban Scotland, are presented in an immersive environment designed by 7N Architects with O Street, with spaces for reflection and inspiration.

The exhibition at V&A Dundee will also engage with museum visitors about what they want the city of Dundee to look and feel like in the future, working together with designers, architects, and citizens throughout the duration of the show.

Creative responses

Project lead,Ewan Anderson of 7N Architects said: “If the past year has shown us anything, it is the importance of community and the Biennale Architettura 2021’s theme ‘How will we live together?’ is more salient than ever.

“With What if…?/Scotland, we really wanted to encourage collaborative thinking between designers and communities to demonstrate how community-led, grassroots engagement can stimulate big ideas from conversations about people’s wishes for the future of their places – how will we live together? what if…? what does the future of your place look like?  what if you could change it?

“What if…? is an open question that can and has stimulated fantastic and energetic discussion, debate and creative thinking within the communities we have worked together with across Scotland; and pointed towards ways in which we can make meaningful and positive change.

“In the face of a changing and uncertain climate, it’s vital that conversation and participation and ambitious ideas are prioritised when we design our collective future.”

For a list of all the location hosts, citizens, designers, artists and architects please scroll on.

Exhibition dates: Sat 22 May – Sun 21 Nov 2021 
Free museum entry. Book now: www.vam.ac.uk/dundee

All visitors now need to book free tickets to enter V&A Dundee, as part of the essential steps to keep visitors safe and to ensure physical distancing.


Keep up to date:
Twitter: @scotlandvenice
Instagram: @scotlandvenice
Facebook: @scotlandandvenice


All Contributors: Hosts, Designers and Citizens


Annan, Dumfries and Galloway 


Shelley Bell, Economic Development Officer, Dumfries and Galloway Council

Andrew Piggott, 7N Architects
Sam Boyle, 7N Architects
Nicola Atkinson, Beautiful Materials
Jordan McCrae + Sean Fitzpatrick, Collective Architecture
Nick Wright, Nick Wright Planning


Roderick McCallum
Calum McDougall
Ben Pool
Lynne Russell
Alan Thomson


Elgin, Morayshire


Heather Claridge, Architecture and Design Scotland


Niamh O’Reilly, 7N Architects
Lisa Mackenzie / Landscape Architecture
Ben Scrimgeour and Rosemary Scrimgeour, Building Workshop
Claire Hope, BuroHappold Engineers
Andrew Macpherson, MOXON Architects


Christy Bolland
Jennifer Evans
Sophie McWilliam
Wendy Toner
Tim Wakefield

Lerwick, Shetland


Suzanne Shearer, Team Leader, Shetland Island Council


Ewan Anderson, 7N Architects
Daniel Clark, Gaada
Thomas Hamilton, Hoskins Architects
David Muir, Rankinfraser
Richard Gibson and Emma Gibson



Jim Anderson
Alastair Hamilton
Graeme Howell
Anthony Nicol
Alisha Taylor

Paisley, Renfrewshire


Leonie Bell, Strategic Lead, Paisley Partnership


Ffion Roberts, 7N Architects
Graeme Nicholls, Graeme Nicholls Architects
Ian Alexander and Henry McKeown, JM Architects
Gerry Grams, Threesixty Architecture
Anne Duff and Cathy Houston, Voices of Experience


Linzi Clark
Johannes Gonani
Alison Love
Gillian Steel
Dr Valerie Wright

Wester Hailes, Edinburgh


Leah Black, Chief Executive, WHALE Arts + Eoghan Howard, Wester Hailes Community Trust


Katie Hay, 7N Architects
Mike Harrison, Harrison Stevens
Ian Gilzean, Chief Architect, Scottish Government
Rowan MacKinnon-Pryde and Nicky Thomson, Studio NIRO
Daisy Narayanan, Director of Urbanism, Sustrans


Bahiya Basheikh
Louize Gibson
Eoghan Howard
Eunice Main
Chuks Ododo
Ilisapeci Rawalai
Emily Stevenson

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