For TEDxGlasgow 2019, we decided we wanted to do something different with the social space our guests will use during lunch and after the talks. Knowing what a social bunch you all are and with our theme of Connection in mind, we scratched our heads as we contemplated lots of ideas. Then we met New Practice, a new kind of architecture practice, and we were quickly blown away by their ideas, approach, enthusiasm and design.
They have been a delight to work with. Not just their ideas but how they have managed all aspects. So, we asked them to share their story and their inspiration for TEDxGlasgow.
‘We are New Practice – a new kind of architecture practice based in Glasgow and London. For over eight years we have been designing places and spaces that let creativity flourish, that allow exciting things happen, and that people can make their own. Our work is tactful, tactical and tangible. Whether designing a public artwork or a co-working space, we focus on the end user. Designing the stage and breakout space for TEDx Glasgow was a brief that fit the bill perfectly.
The word, agora, translates to ‘gathering place’. In Ancient Greece, the agora was the heart of civic life – it was where people gathered to discuss and deliberate important matters, to trade, to connect. Our interpretation, The Agora, forms a series of spaces for gathering. In the gigantic space inside Hall 2 at the SEC, we want to create a sense of human scale, where people can feel at ease.
With a rapid turnaround needed we needed a clever, fast solution that would fit the brief – to create an inspiring space for lunch and informal networking – and more. Additionally, we were determined that this should not be a ‘build and burn’ approach. We need a solution that was quick to install, modular and safe, that would have a life beyond the event.
We hit upon scaffolding. It’s incredibly quick to assemble and, since scaffold companies effectively act as material libraries, it is the perfect zero waste solution to create the scale and structure needed. Working with T M Scaffolding, a local firm, we sketched out and sense-checked our plans for The Agora.
Suffice to say, this was not an everyday request for them! They were great and really got stuck into thinking creatively. Their trusted expertise was invaluable in selecting the right scaffolding system for the job.
As a further nod to the building process we began to work with debris net – the bright translucent material that covers buildings under construction – to create connections between different parts of the structure and to create nooks for people to claim as their own. It was important for us that a diverse array of spaces were designed – where introverts feel just as at home as extroverts.
To bring added local flair to The Agora, we commissioned artists Emer Tumilty, Alice Dansey-Wright and Kate Owens. They each contributed vibrant patterns, which we then worked with the Centre for Advanced Textiles at Glasgow School of Art to digitally print out onto metres and metres of fabric. These will be draped across The Agora and the TEDx Glasgow Stage, bringing the steel structures to life.
We can’t wait to bring The Agora to TEDx Glasgow. With over 400 metres of fabric, 640 lengths of scaffold and the space of a few hours, anything is possible!