We use a series of unique and innovative tools to involve people inclusively in the design process in ways that are genuine, exciting and productive.

These engagement and design tools go beyond the typical 'consultation' and 'usual suspects'. We focus on including the most diverse range of people using tools that might range from live prototyping designs to walkabout workshops outside or pop-up cinema nights. An inspiring way to value both local voices and the landscape, feeding the outputs into the design process.  Combining people, place, design and context.


Our tools

Live Design

Quick-fire design iteration, testing, prototyping and interventions are how we challenge people and places to be better. We are able to plan, prepare and deliver live design workshops where a temporary (indoor or outdoor) design studio is set up and design interventions can be tested.  Whether using sheets of tracing paper to sketch peoples’ ideas in a live design workshop, or using 1:1 scale working models of an idea, rapid transformations create empowerment when you get your hands dirty and put something into action.

PEP Talks

A PEP Talk is just that - a ‘pep talk’ for a people who want to see change, starting with a community conversation about place.  A PEP Talk is a catalyst, an inspiring event that brings together all the players in a community - including local residents, business, voluntary groups, and decision makers.  A PEP Talk connects, inspires, and forms on-going relationships to turn ideas into local action. It takes place in a local outdoor space or is hosted at a venue by a local organisation.  PEP Talks are more than a one-off event; each PEP Talk is the result of a much longer engagement process talking to local people and listening closely to what their challenges, ideas and aspirations are for their local neighbourhood, usually over a period of 4 weeks before the event. We don’t make assumptions for what is important to local people. The themes that come from talking and, more crucially, really listening to individual local people; stopping people in the street, popping in to local businesses or working with organisational partners, in the weeks before a PEP Talk to set the themes and agenda for the event itself. This ensures each PEP Talk is tailored to issues or ideas the community are keen to discuss and share together.  We often create short films to document this process and the event.

Landscape and Urban Design

When we design places we do it with the end user in mind. We use Design Thinking as the structuring model for this.  Design Thinking describes an iterative process creating new and innovative ideas for particular issues.  Although commonplace in many other design industries, there are currently no other landscape architecture companies specifically applying the Design Thinking model in Scotland.  The overlapping steps of empathise, prototype, design, test, and iterate from design thinking provide a perfect structure for the expression of HERE+NOW’s tools, services and co-design outputs.  This results in high quality landscape and urban design outcomes that are more relevant, resilient and robust, and better meet end user and client needs in implementation.  You can see examples of our landscape and urban designs on our projects page.


We know that people are different outside: they think differently, share more openly, and see things with new eyes. We use this to our advantage when we engage with people: often it’s a great way to make for a more experiential consultation process.  Walkabouts are tours of a specific locality guided by locals. We invite people to show us places they like or don’t like, and there are never any rights or wrongs in their observations. Sometimes, to help see things or reveal conditions, we give them a ‘persona’, e.g. reporter, photographer, storyteller, videographer. Young people can learn new skills in analysis and data collection; everyone benefits from sharing new insights into the places we often take for granted. 

User spot interviews

Listening is an important skill in design. Both to clients and local people who will be the end users of a design. Asking the right questions and listening to and understanding the answers provides us with valuable insight and design rationale. It means that the design recommendations or community briefing is an accurate reflection of authentic will and genuine need. We are experienced in conducting spot interviews which can be either structured or informal, depending on the type of input and interaction we are looking for at that design stage. We have a team of experienced researchers who can conduct street based surveys, or plan and design intervention days to catch people’s attention and consideration.  We document and record these interviews carefully using a mixture of methods, sometimes also producing short films to summarise the key themes emerging and to give local people a face as well as a voice

Hold Me Dear

Hold Me Dear is both a website curated by HERE+NOW and an engagement tool. The Hold Me Dear website includes a main gallery that invites any individual worldwide to contribute a photograph and 50 words about a place they treasure and the personal story behind why. The project reveals the importance of these seemingly ‘ordinary’ everyday places and their hidden personal meaning, memories or nostalgia felt by local people. In addition to the online website gallery, HERE+NOW use Hold ME Dear as an engagement tool, delivering workshops that involve local people and invite them to contribute their photographs, captions, aspirations and ideas about a particular place. These are often featured on a dedicated project page on the Hold Me Dear website to allow them to be shared with one another, or as part of a physical exhibition often installed in situ outside in that place.

Take a look at some examples of our work or find out more about HERE+NOW.