people in placemaking

Festive greetings + our 2017 publication!


Festive greetings from the team at HERE+NOW! 

We hope you've had a brilliant year, and wish you all the best for 2018!

We've had a brilliant year working with some really inspiring people on a diverse range of landscape architecture, urban design, and research projects that put people at the heart of design. If you’re interested in finding out a bit more about some of our work in 2017, check out this publication summarising our work in this, our 3rd year of business!


The Sea Field. Public life hack!

Join us to deliver some creative landscape interventions and engaging events as part of our first ever co-design summer school programme in July 2017!

The Sea Field Project is an ongoing self-initiated project delivered on a voluntary basis by HERE+NOW.  As part of this ongoing project we are planning a 'public life hack' programme for the month of July! A series of temporary landscape interventions and community engagement events at the Seafield promenade near Portobello, Edinburgh that reveal the potential of Seafield as a place, and document their impact on public life.  

Why Sea Field?  The project aims to re-imagine the opportunity and potential of Edinburgh’s waterfront for people and for nature. The Seafield urban area faces onto the Firth of Forth and North Sea beyond, yet seems to turn its back on this beautiful landscape. While it provides a well used walking and cycling route between Portobello and Leith, people tend not to spend time here, and the wide promenade space is currently better known for the backs of car showrooms and the bus depot rather than an exciting vibrant place in which to spend time. We feel this stunning sea frontage and landscape has potential to become a city-wide destination, with improved dunescape and planting, and more opportunity for public life as a vibrant place to meet and spend time.  Some of the outputs for this will feed into the ongoing project, including as part of Porty Art Walk 2017.

Interested in working as part of a team to take a lead on some of these interventions? Applications are now open for this 2 day per week free summer school!  9 individuals will be selected to work in small teams with training and guidance from HERE+NOW to deliver a total of 3 physical landscape interventions or engagement events in July 2017. Please see the programme for dates you would need to be able to commit to. In turn we can offer experience in co-design, facilitating community events, piloting techniques, action-based research.  Volunteers may be students, recent graduates or interested professionals, and should have an interest in public space or urban design, landscape architecture, and community engagement.

To apply:  take a look at the programme and key dates, and email us a covering letter and CV / Portfolio by 2 June.

#BloomingBricks at Porty Art Walk

As part of Porty Art Walk 2016 we were happy to invite participants to create their own #BloomingBricks - little bundles of seeds, soil and recycled paper bringing the nooks and crannies of Portobello (and beyond) to life with wildflowers across the city!  

Already part of the Porty Art Walk in 2015 with Stop+Sea, HERE+NOW were thrilled to be invited again to contribute to the Porty Art Walk curated programme of art works and installations across Portobello on Saturday 3 Sept 2016. 

With our stall on the Promenade and only a stone’s throw from Portobello’s historical kilns, the last two surviving pottery kilns in Scotland, we wanted to create a visual reference between our project and an interesting chapter of Portobello’s local history which provides an interesting and important local landmark.

With buckets of soil and clay, plenty of wildflower seeds, a briquette press and lots of energy, we were up and running at 12noon, ready to involve as many participants of all ages as possible. We were pleased by the enthusiasm and interest showed throughout the afternoon by everyone involved and were able to make over 70 Blooming Bricks to be scattered around Portobello, but also going as far as Fife and Glasgow.

We were overwhelmed by all the support and positive feedback received during the day and would like to thank all participants for taking part to Blooming Bricks. We would also like to thank Porty Art Walk for making this project possible, and Grow Wild Scotland and Kabloom for the seeds. 

We think Blooming Bricks was a great success and hope to see plenty of wildflowers popping up all over Portobello during the next Spring.

Did you take part to event and made your own brick? We would love to see their new homes and little seedlings popping up! Take a look at #BloomingBricks for updates and share your images, we would love to hear from you!


The Place Standard is an innovative tool created by the NHS to support the delivery of high quality places. Whilst contributing to the SSCI Charrette Mainstreaming Programme, the HERE+NOW team were excited to have a chance to apply this first-hand at both the Blairgowrie and Lennoxtown design charrettes.

The Place Standard offers an easy-to-understand graphic wheel to spark conversations within local communities and allow a completely anonymous, but comprehensive expression of individual opinions within local groups.

The 14 different ‘slices’ that form the Place Standard wheel go from more tangible and practical topics such as green spaces, traffic, parking and the built environment to more abstract, but equally important themes, such as sense of identity/belonging, perceived sense of control and relationship with local authorities.

The topics are rated from 1 to 7 with a point on the graph, with 1 as the lowest score and 7 as the highest. This results in a range of eclectic community ‘footprints’. These are a valuable way to learn about each unique place. We used the Place Standard in this way at both the Blairgowrie and Lennoxtown design charrettes, where we had the chance to apply the Place Standard on groups of all sizes.        

With only the need of a printer and pens, the Place Standard assessment process is straight-forward and quick and can be tailored in length according to the receptiveness of the audience.  It gives a voice to every participant, who can as a result express personal opinions and views on a neutral and open ground.

What makes the Place Standard a fantastic tool for place-making is not only its immediacy in delivering an overview of communities, but also its complete openness to the public. The test is freely accessible and completely open-source, and can be found here together with more details on its scope and uses. Everyone can easily apply it, whether it is at group workshops or to simply have a peek out of curiosity. It is something we at HERE+NOW are excited to use in the future as part of our co-design in landscape architecture approach.


Uula Saastamoinen is working with the HERE+NOW team for a 4 week period to learn more about the co-design processes we use in all our design, place-making and landscape architecture projects before he goes on to study a Masters in Landscape Architecture. Uula is learning about a different aspect of the work we do each week. This is his third of a series of blogs about his experiences and learnings.


Hi again!

This week I was looking at different ideas for a summer workshop which would take place in an existing community, bringing different community groups together while celebrating the legacy of the site. This would also provide an opportunity for students to add something to their portfolio as they could take part in the design and implementation process.

There are quite a few variables to consider when planning a workshop: who are the parties involved in the site, what kind of things the locals want to see, are there any groups wanting to get involved, where to get funding, can the workshop be timed with other events, how long should it last, and so on. I was looking at different ways to use a site, and how to make use of everything that is already there, while finding ways to bring all the community groups together and contribute to the workshop.

This week I was mainly concentrating on finding information about similar projects around the world and potential sources of funding. I also started sketching some simple creative ideas which I thought were not hard to implement, and which might work well. I’m continuing the project next week, and hoping to gather more information about sources of funding and parties wanting to get involved in the workshop.

- Uula

Plywood seating for movie nights

Plywood seating for movie nights

Workshops and art exhibition venue

Workshops and art exhibition venue

Cube Hack

Cube Hack



We're excited to have Uula Saastamoinen working with the HERE+NOW team for the next 4 weeks. Uula is originally from Finland but studied for his MA Hon Geography in Edinburgh where he became interested in place-making.  Uula is joining us to learn more about the co-design processes we use in all our design, place-making and landscape architecture projects before he goes on to study a Masters in Landscape Architecture. Uula will be learning about different aspects of the work we do each week for the next 4 weeks and will be writing a series of blogs about his experiences and learnings.  Welcome Uula! 



Hi everyone! I am working with HERE+NOW for a few weeks to learn more about co-design in landscape architecture, which is of great interest to me.

As it is my first week, I have been researching different practices for co-design and place-making from around the world. I've learned that when the locals are at the centre of the process, the solutions are often very cost-effective, as they can be targeted appropriately.

Some of the innovative tactics I've found for engaging with the locals in the initial planning process include:

  • Park Hack; cubes which were installed to a park in Shoreditch, allowing the locals to go inside and write and draw to the walls what kind of changes they would want to see in the park. Data was collected over three weeks, and the process is very democratic as everyone can engage with the cubes on their own time. This was also the most cost-effective way, given the limited budget. 
  • Memory-sharing, either by using an online platform where people can share images and stories of their favourite place, organising actual gatherings where people can share stories, or a combination of both (e.g. an exhibition of photos taken by the people).

One of the things that I also regularly noticed in my research was that one of the challenges to overcome in co-design can be a lack of trust between the locals and planners, and the fact people are not used to being part of the planning process. Ways to get people excited before the actual co-design charrettes might include things like leafletting, or using social media in co-operation with local community groups. Reaching different age groups (who all use spaces in different ways) is also crucial.

All in all, I was delighted to see so many creative strategies being used globally, and I can’t wait to learn more about co-design during my time with HERE+NOW.

- Uula


Image credit: Project for Public Spaces


What place do you treasure in your city? A hidden nook or favourite spot, a great place to sit and watch the world go by or somewhere you've fond memories or nostalgia for? Often the places that mean the most to us may seem everyday or get walked past without a second thought by others, but they hold particular meaning to us. 

HERE+NOW are excited to today announce we are currently working with Givrum, Copenhagen, to openly invite Hold Me Dear submissions for a special exhibition as part of City Link Festival in Edinburgh in September 2015.  Individuals in each of the four recent or upcoming City Link Festival cities - Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Istanbul and Hamburg - are invited to submit a photograph and 50 words about a place in their city they treasure.

These photographs and captions will form a continually growing participatory online gallery in the next couple of months leading up to the Festival, and will then culminate in a physical exhibition in an unusual nook of Edinburgh's urban space as part of City Link Festival from 24-27 September 2015.

Find out more about the project or submit a photograph of a place you treasure in Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Istanbul or Hamburg and help us co-create an exhibition!


HERE+NOW were thrilled to be invited to form part of the programming for Hidden Door Festival 2015. Hidden Door is a not-for-profit arts festival that takes place annually in Edinburgh in abandoned or hidden locations. This years festival took place in a derelict building off King Stables Road near the Grassmarket in Edinburgh.

HERE+NOW programmed the Hidden Door Cinema space on Friday 29 with a series of short film screenings, exhibition and participatory installation along the theme of 'Connection to Place'. Films included PEP Talks, Joyce, Inshriach Bothy | A Sense of Place, and Hold Me Dear | The Film. The exhibition included photographic and short story works contributed by individuals worldwide about a place they treasure as part of the Hold Me Dear project as well as photographic prints from Jenny Humberstone and Ian Humberstone's artist residency with The Bothy Project.  We also invited Hidden Door attendees to share a place they personally treasure as part of a live evolving participatory installation in the space.

For those of you that missed out on Hidden Door Festival or the HERE+NOW exhibition, we've a few of our photos below, including the HERE+NOW team having their portrait drawn by the talented James Sayer. These are also available via our Facebook page.


C.I.C-ked into shape!

So as you may have read, or heard from us, we are a not-for-profit Community Interest Company. But what does that mean?!  Generally when we think of ‘communities’ we think of a collection of people that function succinctly to benefit the whole group. Or if we looked it up in a dictionary we’d find;


1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

2. the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.

At Here + Now we think that communities can come in many shapes and sizes and the one that we serve is focused on the concept of ‘sharing or having certain attitudes’ and also has geographical relevance as we work with communities that either work, live, play, pass through or connect in anyway with a place.

The place acts as the nucleus of the community. We are working to help, support and collaborate with both the people that create the community and also the place that links them together. A Community Interest Company is a new form of business enterprise and it may appear quite jargon-y on the surface but in reality we are working at Here + Now to benefit people and places. Easy, peasy!

Have a great weekend and keep alive and C.I.Cking !! (sorry I couldn’t resist!)  


We are excited to be running our first ever 'PEP Talk' event in Canonmills on 24 April.  Hosted by The Yard, and with a series of speakers, performers and artists in the nearby old railway tunnel outdoors all around the topic of 'Night in the City' and more creatives uses of city spaces, this promises to be an inspiring event not be missed (register for your free ticket)! 

But this more than just a fun evening out.  This is an event inspired by our discussions with people local to Canonmills over the past few weeks, and a great way to meet other local people and organisations to build on these discussions, ambitions and opportunities.  It is a catalyst to help activate activism. To build on the desires, ideas and aspirations that diverse people in the community already have, by bringing them together to make connections with one another, be inspired by speakers along a relevant theme, and generate ideas and actions together.  You can start or join the discussion ahead of the event via the PEP Talks Facebook page or using #PEPtalking

The theme 'Night in the City' for this first PEP Talk came out of this initial feedback from local people prior to the event.  This included frequent mention of the old railway tunnel and how it felt scary to walk through at night, and how the tunnel had great potential for more activities and community events.  The PEP Talk event programme has been inspired by these ambitions and opportunities local people have for the area, and will act as a way to make connections with other people interested in developing ideas and possibilities for their local places, all whilst having a fun, informal evening in an unusual city space!

If you'd like to join us at this first ever PEP Talk event, please join us on Friday 24 April at The Yard in Canonmills.  Register here for your free ticket. 



At HERE + NOW we are excited to have been invited to curate a temporary participatory installation and evening of short film screenings as part of Hidden Door Festival in May 2015.  We'll be exhibiting a visually dynamic hand-crafted  installation attendees can add their personal reflections to plus projected films during the day and evening of Friday 29 May within the Hidden Door Cinema Space.  

On Monday there was not only good news - that Hidden Door has been officially given the go-ahead to use the currently vacant Kings Stables Road buildings for the festival -  but we also got a sneak peek of the venue!  

There's something always so interesting about buildings which have laid dormant and under-used for a period of time.  Monday was no exception and it was great to have the doors unlocked to a series of interesting spaces, from the 'peely paint room' to the large warehouse like hanger.  I even stumbled across a newspaper from 2006, which must have lain undisturbed on the dusty floor for almost a decade. 

Great to get a look at the triple garage space with will become the Hidden Door Cinema too and where we will be exhibiting our films and installation - all along a theme of connection to place and sharing of place-specific memories and stories.  Make sure you come and take a look in May! More details will be coming soon.


Happy Friday !

We have had a very productive week at Here + Now as we have been out and about speaking to people in various places around Edinburgh. We are developing a very exciting project called PEP Talks (People Engaging in Place). The concept of the PEP Talks project is to ignite an interest in a certain location around the city and invite speakers and contributors to an evening (or day) of discussion and inspiration. We are in the process of developing the project for wider release,  and have been collecting material as a first stage - a PREP Talk for the .. PEP Talks… get it?! 

We have been out in the cold chatting to passing people and  are now in the process of developing a short film featuring the people we talked to. It’s been inspiring and interesting to really engage with the public and the environment around us. By engaging in a simple conversation we have gained a huge amount of insight into some spaces around Edinburgh. It definitely demonstrates that we can learn the most about a place from the people that use it.  Watch this space for our PREP Talk film .. More to come soon…!!



New Year is the perfect pivot-point for reflection, thinking about what we do, but also for thinking forward to what we are going to be doing… a time for fresh starts!

And it’s a new beginning for the three of us at HERE + NOW as we consolidate a range of activities and work into one big super-charged agency for change. We’re ready to design, engage and curate with a renewed focus on people and place, and to pilot our ideas in UX for landscape architecture. But more on that later.

Putting people at the heart of the design of places is critical – would you ever design for a place without ‘consulting’ the site? Typically designers will survey and analyse in detail a site’s conditions to understand its characteristics, traits, systems, flows… so why wouldn’t we do the same to understand the needs, characteristics, potentials, resource, and dynamics of the people relating to a place? We’re interested in new methods for how we engage people in mainstream design processes, and hope to initiate and demonstrate an approach relevant for anyone working in the design and delivery of place-making.

At HERE + NOW we have strong principles rooted in the importance of understanding the ‘people’ layer of a place; it’s what makes for really meaningful design.

So this New Year, why not join us in exploring techniques in UX for landscape architecture, and follow us as we look to how engagement can become part of a fuller and more 'real' design process!


  • UI: the user interface, is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur. You might call this, the 'digital landscape'.
  • UX Design: or 'User Experience Design';  is the process of researching, testing, and iterative design processes that enable you to create that digital landscape in a way that makes it accessible, enjoyable and easy to navigate.  This gives the user the best experience possible. 
  • What if we could learn from the relatively new fields of digital UX Design and translate some of the lessons learned and iterative user-centred methods from the digitally designed landscape to the physical designed landscape and places?