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Occupying the Post-Industrial City - applications to Test Unit 2017 open

Test Unit

Following 2016’s inaugural programme, Scotland’s first art, design and architecture summer school Test Unit returns in 2017. We find out more from TAKTAL Director Helen Teeling about the programme and who can apply…

What is Test Unit 2017?

Test Unit is an art, design and architecture summer school and events programme. Over the course of one intensive week in June 2017 we will bring together a cross-disciplinary group of participants and experienced facilitators to convert a vacant building, Civic House, and adjacent vacant site in north Glasgow, into a publicly accessible space, with a supportung public Sympoisum and creative workshop programme, exploring the theme:  'Occupying the Post-Industrial City'.

Test Unit build 2016

What did last year’s participants take away from the experience?

We had such an overwhelming positive response to last year's programme, with all the participants each taking something personal and valuable from it. If I had to summarise I'd say the most common responses were:

  • Learning through doing. All participants being able to learn in different ways on many different levels; through creating an environment that was both discursive and practical - where people learned as much from their peers as the facilitators and speakers in the events programme
  • The benefit of using prototyping within an urban setting - making the process of reimagining the site's future much more visual
  • Test Unit as a process to engage with the physical qualities of the site and engage with the local community - simple actions revealed some unique qualities about the site and by making and creating the work publicly it encouraged the local community to be much more responsive to it

The best way to demonstrate what the participants thought of last year, is through the film we made:

Why the focus on creating change in cities?

Like many cities, Glasgow has a wealth of vacant buildings and sites following industrial decline. As demand for space changes, we need to explore processes that are less capital intensive and quicker to respond to people and change. Test Unit aims to nurture a relationship between people and place through building capacity to initiate grass-roots projects and place culture, people and education at the heart of regeneration. 

"Test Unit aims to nurture a relationship between people and place"- Helen Teeling

Who do you want to hear from in your call for applications to the summer school?

Test Unit is open to everyone. Our ambition is encourage both ‘lateral’ and ‘vertical’ collaboration – i.e. cross-disciplinary and mixed skill sets – ranging from students, graduates, professionals and members of the local community.

Test Unit participants 2016, credit: Beth Chalmers

How does Test Unit fit into TAKTAL’s wider aims and ambitions?

TAKTAL is an agency that reimagines spaces to create social, cultural and economic value and being based in Glasgow we recognised there is an abundance of vacant buildings and sites following industrial decline. Our work involves developing and delivering projects to activate these spaces in sustainable ways and throughout our work we developed a research blog,

Agile City, that explores alternative approaches to city development. We were keen however, that this didn't exist in digital form only and wanted to create something that allowed us to examine the thinking ourselves, and so Test Unit is an opportunity to put some of the research and learning into practice. 

Presentation at Test Unit 2016

What sort of events / activities / topics will you cover in the Summer School?

Participants of Test Unit will be working in six groups, each led by an industry leading facilitator; TAKTAL will lead a group with Turner Prize winning practice Assemble to explore modular workspaces, prefabrication and open source platforms, while the National Theatre of Scotland will work with local community members to produce a participatory performance.  London-based design studio Jason Bruges will lead one group to design interactive lighting systems. Glasgow-based social architecture and design practices Baxendale and A Feral Studio will challenge two groups to assess the viability of urban bothies and the potential of facades and surfaces in ‘communicative buildings.’

Running in parallel to the summer school will be a public facing events programme, to give context to the practical activity of the daytime, and connect with the wider public audience who are not attending the summer school – this will culminate in a public symposium and a series of free creative activities and workshops. The full programme of speakers and activities will be announced shortly.

Applications for the Summer School are now open! The deadline to submit applications is Monday 8 May. 

For full details on the programme and on how to apply, visit www.agile-city.com/Test-Unit

@AgileCity_ / @TAKTAL_ / #TestUnit

Photo credits TAKTAL and Beth Chalmers.


Test Unit is supported by the Glasgow Canal Regeneration Partnership and other key strategic partners – Scottish Canals, Glasgow City Council, Igloo Regerenation, Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow School of Art.

This article was published on 21 Mar 2017