Iain Scott profile picture

Job title:

Senior Lecturer in Architectural Design


Minto House


Iain is an ARB registered Architect with 29 years of experience of practice in the UK and Asia. Previous practices include Sir Norman Foster & Partners. He has experience in the design, procurement and construction of a rich diversity of building projects from both new-build and refurbishment housing to industrial and commercial buildings for clients such as Bank of Scotland, The Post Office and Canon UK. He presently works on selected individual projects.

He has been a design tutor at Edinburgh College of Art and ESALA since 1996. He is also a Visiting Professor at Harbin Institute of Technology in China, where he has previously run summer school studios with lectures to students and staff at a series of Chinese universities.

Iain is also an experienced researcher within ESALA. Previous projects include ‘Mobility, Mood and Place’. A cross disciplinary research project investigating the relationship between older people and the built environment, which included academics from University of Edinburgh, Kings College, London and the University of York. Iain worked with students from the MA, MArch and MLA programmes engaged in fieldwork and user participation workshops in the cities of Manchester, London and Copenhagen and also the remote Scottish Island of Orkney. MMP generated a rich series of outputs in different forms from academic papers, exhibitions and conference contributions. For a full list visit Research Explorer.


Iain is interested in a compelling and fundamental relationship between his teaching and research to the extent that the boundaries between the two disciplines become indistinct. His design studios at ESALA are interdisciplinary, engaging students of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in diagnosing problems and identifying design solutions which add to the knowledge canon in particular subject domains and geographical places. Students become 'active researchers' working with interdisciplinary research teams and particular user groups, employing innovative research methods and co-design practices in the pursuit of original design solutions. Students from previous design units have been awarded RIAS student prizes in sustainability and urban design. Iain’s most recent ESALA Studio vehicles and research strand have looked closely at the problem of town centres, with a vehicle titled ‘Transforming Scotland’s Towns: Re-Thinking the High Street’ located firstly in Falkirk, Central Scotland. The 2021-22 studio 'Constructing Atmospheres: The Gathering Place' was sited in Dalkeith, Midlothian, investigating the 21st century relationship between a town and its surrounding productive landscape. This year's research led studio is based in Derry, Northern Ireland, forming the ESALA two-year Masters studio titled, 'Daire's Airc: Edge Effects, Eco-tones & the Ecological Condenser', (2023-25). This builds on last year's successful one-year Masters studio also based in Derry, the catalogue for which can be viewed here.

Iain also supervises students for MSc by Research, or PhD, acting as 1st and co-supervisor to a number of students.


Iain’s research revolves around the relationship between people and the built environment, often including particular user groups. Previous research includes work with disenfranchised users of the built environment, 'Design for Autism' (2009) and 'Effective Briefing Techniques for Building Users with Communication Difficulties' (2011) being two notable previous publications. Knowledge Exchange Projects have included a study of 'The Impact of the Built Environment on Service Provision' for ARK Housing Association, with academics from Heriot-Watt University.

From 2013-2017 Iain was Co-Investigator on ‘Mobility, Mood and Place’, leading Work Package 1 of the project, investigating the design of age friendly places through research and co-design with older people around the UK. The project also included work with people with dementia.

More recent projects include the Wheatley Group Innovation in Housing Project and the ‘Present Voices, Future Lives’ (PVFL) Exhibition & Workshop Project awarded by the Scottish Government and Architecture & Design Scotland (A&DS). This project was commissioned to engage people from across Scotland on the draft vision and principles for a new policy for housing in Scotland (Housing to 2040). A report on the project was published by the Scottish Government in 2021 as part of the suite of HT2040 policy documents. Material from this project forms part of the newly instituted 'Our Place' web-site by the Scottish Government, NHS Scotland & A&DS; the go-to resource for place-makers in Scotland. More recently Iain has been advising Play-Scotland on a report into children's space for play which will inform a new government 'play-policy' for Scotland. Data gathered as part of PVFL has been utilised in the report to come shortly. This work re-connects with earlier research with children and schools, including work with young people on the autism-spectrum.

Further research work on towns forms part of a collaboration called ‘Nations of Towns’ investigating the potential for collaboration into research around the subject of towns in Scotland and Ireland between ESALA, U of E Futures Institute and University College Dublin. A series of NT events have been held with invited academics, figures from local government and industry partners to develop this relationship. 

Iain’s recent publications include studies around the dynamic relationship between urban street-vending and patterns of everyday life in Chinese cities and work on urban cemeteries and perceived restorative-ness in a Scottish Context. He regularly peer reviews for a series of academic research journals around the subject of health and the built environment.

For a full list go here.

PhD Supervision Topics

  • Architecture and Well-Being

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