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.


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.


The whole HERE+NOW research team had a really productive design workshop this morning as part of a series of Public Life Street Assessment projects we are currently working on for client the City of Edinburgh Council.   We have been looking at a total of 5 different local town centres across Edinburgh (Leith Walk, Bruntsfield/Morningside, Portobello, Stockbridge and Nicolson/Clerk St) to research and analyse these key public realm spaces and their potential for increased public life.   

Following the 'on-the-street' research and data collection using direct observational methodologies inspired by Jan Gehl (amongst many others), the team analyse this qualitative and quantitative data in detail, learning from a mix of pedestrian counts, behavioural mapping, street auditing, test walks and user interviews with locals to help identify the existing movement and place function of the town centre. We then go on to use this analysis to help start to form suggested design responses and ideas for actions aimed at helping to improve public life in the public realm - from shorter term 'quick wins', through to pilot studies and longer term design responses - all grounded in solid and in-depth research of the public realm and how its users experience the street environment.  

It's a brilliant process to go through - mixing quantitative and qualitative research methodologies based on user experience, followed up with rigorous data analysis and then the transformation of this research into a plan for action and suggested solutions using our design team comprised of landscape architects, urban designers and planners.  We are really passionate about this work and thrilled to be involved in projects such as this which combine research with engagement and design to start to create potential solutions to help improve both public life and the quality of the pedestrian environment in these town centre street spaces.   Find out more here


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



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 second of a series of blogs about his experiences and learnings.


Hi again!

This week I took part in a public life street assessment project for several town centres in Edinburgh. The purpose of street assessment is to collect data about the 'public life' of particular streets and spaces for analysis to enable the making of better informed decisions for their future improvement.

I visited Nicolson St/Clerk St, Stockbridge and Portobello on three consecutive days, and made observations about obstacles and other things which might affect the flow of pedestrians and how desirable these places are. I documented my findings with a camera, and I also interviewed local people to get their view on different pros and cons of the area. All these tasks are part of a larger system of mapping people’s movement at different times of the day and different days of the week, and are designed to provide solutions which take into account the locals’ aspirations and knowledge, meaning they also end up being cost-effective - targeting solutions that maximise impact for users.

One of the key things I noticed was the series of issues caused by narrow streets and very limited space for sidewalks, especially in places like Stockbridge where there are many young families. Bus stops provide shelter, but can also act as obstacles during busy hours. While the initial expression of the area is important, local people’s input is very priceless in knowing where to get started. The result is a huge pile of data, which is then used to suggest small and big changes to these town centres. It was an exciting week for me, and I am glad I had an opportunity to take part in the process!


  • Uula


street assessment