Resilient Borders is a project by students on our Advanced Sustainable Design masters. It is a time of change with the reopening of the Borders Railway to Galashiels and an ideal time to speculate on how vastly improved transport infrastructures will drive change. The area has many resources, a distinctive culture of textile design and making, a University on its doorstep, all set within a landscape of beguiling beauty. At the same time Galashiels shares many of the problems of our major cities, of deprivation, unemployment, fuel poverty and a lack of mobility.
This all makes for a place to think and design ambitiously. The projects the students work on are embedded in the community. We have links with the planning authority, local business and community leaders, who through workshops share their knowledge and aspirations.
The project tests skills in fieldwork and analysis. You learn how to identify need and potential and craft building programmes in response to this. In making design propositions, we emphasise the importance of making a careful case for a project rather than simply presenting a set of drawings.
We encourage students on the programme to work in multidisciplinary groups where complementary knowledge and experience assist in producing well considered work.
Our students have gained skills in designing for communities and presenting their work through open blogs and websites. The last phase culminated in an exhibition in the town of the work. It shows how sustainable approaches to design can work with real contexts to produce proposals that limit resource use, but create resilient communities too.