Author: Botanic Concrete



For me, it was about the potentialities that we have like a conscious persons that we have  around our own environment. It´s related with the capacity to observe our “rubbish” in another way, seeing the same like a potential “seed” to built other things.

In reference to the exercise that we made, is made with rubber wheels, which could be mounted and fitted in the manner that you can built a chair, for example. But, this methodology applies to everything, the only barrier is our imagination and our creativity.

Rubber car wheels, hammer drills, screws, nuts, washers, etc.

Also we made an inflatable made with:

Plastic bags, tape, cutter...

I think this “tool” could be useful especially in spaces with a lot of access to recyclable materials, or in places where overshooting plastic and other materials exists.
I believe that the tool is very useful in raising awareness, which ultimately is what gets us to see the materials and consumption itself from other perspectives.

I learned about the importance of observing the materials, and the relationship between the structure of the material and content (level of industrial design) allows us to take advantage of the material itself other unexpected ways. You could say that it is a "redesign" open, so that you can give objects a second, third, fourth life etc.



Archive Visit

In relation to the Photo Coffee event, it was felt that to entice Residents and Users of Garnethill to attend an event and bring any old pictures with others, it would be useful to have a “core” such material.

An initial internet search was undertaken, which yielded a number of photographs that were typically from the mid 1960s onwards, and while there was much of Sauchiehall Street, sourcing pictures of scenes just a short distance away in Garnethill itself proved more challenging. To that end a group came together on the morning of 5 May 2016 to visit and spend time exploring the archive material held in the Mitchell Library.

What we found

Sourcing images of Garnethill proved a labourious process as the archive stores them by location and date without a reference picture or “tab”. Therefore a search can produce rather random results in terms of the image quality and relevance.

The archive also stores numerous maps, and this proved useful in furthering our understanding of how the area had developed over time – by viewing such maps at different periods. An interesting characteristic is that the area sits at the intersection or edge of maps due to the typical divisions of a larger area or representation of Glasgow. In other words, you need to look at least two maps to get a full understanding of the area at any one time. In some ways this could be interpreted as a rational for Garnethill feeling as if a forgotten district.

We discovered that prior to the first half of the 19th century the area was largely farmland and the bulk of development took place in the second half of that century.

We noted that Garnethill once housed an observatory given that it was a hilly location and likely prior to the advent of street lighting – the observatory was later demolished in the early 20th century. The are was also used to store water – reservoirs in the approximate location of the now park, and that the building now known as the ABC O2 music venue, and previously the ABC Cinema, was in fact a Circus – Hengler’s, and is remembered currently by the public house closely located.

How it was used

As planned, the material was put on display at a Photo Coffee event hosted at the Project Café. A number of residents visited to view the material and some indeed brought further contributions. The arising discussions facilitated a number of new connections.

What next?

This page should prove to be the catalyst and distribution vehicle for a larger piece of work where a selection of images and maps are curated to provide a cohesive history of the area, and thereby be utilized as a backdrop for a further discussion regarding what and how Garnethill might be in the future.




Visual Moderation

The Botanic Concrete version of Visual Moderation involves real-time note taking using drawing as it’s primary tool. Simple illustrations are used to explain and capture ideas, concepts and discussions in a concise and accessible format. Visual Moderation is a two way process where the moderator checks in and refines their notes in discussion with the people involved in the event that they are attempting to capture.

Large roll of paper

Blu tack

Selection of marker pens/drawing materials

  • It’s a good idea for the Moderator to develop a short lexicon of imagery that they can refer to, to ensure that the process is efficient and delivered in real time. For example, if you are moderating a meeting about families and green spaces you should figure out how you will represent ‘family’ or ‘people’ as well as trees/plants/green spaces ahead of the meeting so that you have that idea in your head before you start. 
  • Remember that you are taking notes and that you don’t need to capture every single detail- go for the key ideas and concepts with an economy of language and then check in with the group to see if you have missed anything that they would like to include. 
  • It’s a good idea to think about how you will share the notes after the event: will this be through photographs or can you refine and digitise the notes?

The notes created using Visual Moderation throughout Botanic Concrete so far have been digitised and shared with the group via email and a dedicated Facebook page. The illustrations from the notes have formed a visual identity for the project and have been used for the website and for the branding of different tools and events.


Botanic Concrete Notes

Botanic Concrete overview

Mini brainstorm



Project Launch

An event to bring together people interested in and curious about Botanic Concrete to understand what people know and can bring to the community, what they would like to know and learn and key questions on the project. 

  • one space
  • one curator/organizer/facilitator
  • participants/local community/people from different fields and interests
  • free soups, coffee and drinks
  • project presentation from the organiser/curator/facilitator
  • 3 colored post-its: We were asked to answer three questions on each and then pin them on the wall for everyone to read.
    • Purple: Write what you want to know about the Botanic Concrete project in Garnethill
    • Yellow: What do you know about Garnethill, what potential does it have and what knowledge can you offer?
    • Blue: What do you want to know about Garnethill?


This was the first time Botanic Concrete Project was presented to a community of people, some of which later on became the active members. It was an important moment where people had the opportunity to meet, discuss about the project, and read about each other’s ideas and concerns which were written on the colourful post-its. The project Launch created a feeling of curiosity about what was going to follow and this is what gave it an intriguing aspect.

The result were gathered into the following Google Documents:


Participatory Web Design

Participatory Web Design invites the community project members to use the existing tools, future tools and all the information gathered to understand how they would like to see them documented on a website. Participants would go through a variety of exercises in both groups and as individuals to come up with ideas, share inspiration and begin shaping and informing the website design.

What do we need:

 Two days

 Set up room with 4-5 tables (how many people are attending?)

 Print A3 Brainstorm notes from past session (4-5 copies)

Use case cards

 Vision Statement - What is the outcome we want to see? What purpose will it serve?

 Scissors

 Tape

 Bluetack

 Brown paper

 Post-its

 Markers

 Pens

 Blank A4 paper

Previous ideas printed on A4

Day One

 Introduction

 Plan of the workshop

 Review Brainstorm notes

 Use case cards - to understand who will use the website and why

 Review previous ideas

 Vision statement - to understand the purpose of the website and the overall project

Day Two - Prototyping! - sketch, brainstorm ideas

 Show inspiration on similar projects and using post-its, everyone writes down what they like from each site.

 Crazy 8 sketching - Fold A4 paper in half, then again in half two more times until you have 8 equally folded boxes when you open up the paper again.

(1) run an icebreaker where you give everyone 30 seconds to draw random things (i.e. cat, flower, garden, horse, community) starting from easy to more complex.

(2) run the activity again, but this time sketch ideas of how the homepage would look like. Everyone will get 1 minute per pox (8 minutes) to fill each box with a different idea. 

(3) everyone shares their ideas and discuss what people like. Repeat it again with the tools page. 

 Wireframes - Sketch ideas on single A4 sheets based on how you envision the main pages i.e. homepage, about, tools page, specific tool page.

 How do we categorise the content? Using A4 sheets with the title of existing/future tools (one per sheet), pass around post-its and pens.. Everyone can write what they feel are appropriate tags/categories for that tool. Pass each paper around until everyone has added their tag to it. This will inform the category/tag for that tool.

In a later session...

 Define roles for the website and project

 Walk-through and provide training to project members on updating the website

This website is the result of the collaborative nature of the participatory web design sessions. A spreadsheet was created to gather all the ideas from the workshops, which informed the design of the website.

Participatory web design ideas, use cases, vision statements, etc 



Guided Walking Tour

This tool is a guided walk around your community. This particular walk in Garnethill is lead by members of the Glasgow Women’s Library and by women and looks at the local history from the contemporary and historical perspective of the women of Garnethill. The idea is to give a tour around Garnethill open to everyone who wants know more about the local history and Glasgow. 

Materials needed:

  • A tour guide
  • Map of the area 
  • 60 minutes
  • Umbrellas in case of rain

How to use it:

  1. Fix date and meet up location
  2. Spread the word about the event
  3. Maybe have a sort of booking system so that you’d know how many people are coming
  4. Prepare the tour and exercise public speaking
  5. Inform attenders with restricted mobility of possible obstacles
  6. Meet and greet the people for the tour
  7. Start tour
  8. Walk around
  9. End tour bringing people back to the starting point

Something like: even in a relatively small area it’s possible to find a rich past and history of the women living the area and city? It must be like this everywhere. Perhaps more should be done by the local council to acknowledge this history (with signs and plaques?) or it may be a community’s initiative.

Perhaps it’d be good to update the tour with histories coming from migrants and others’ cultures of those living in Garnethill.



Brainstorming Session

The Brainstorming session took the key questions and what was found about what people knew and would like to know from the Project Launch to form the themes. This would further help to think of new ideas and create possible tools, events and collaborations between the community.

  • one curator/organiser/facilitator
  • participants/local community/people from different fields and interests
  • paper and pen, pencils
  • 5 tables
  • one title written on each table- COMMUNITY, GREEN, CULTURE, STORIES, FOOD
  • one long wallpaper for visualisation, by an illustrator, of the main ideas expressed during the night by the participants

Four questions were asked as the brainstorming was happening, and one illustrator would visualise on a wall paper the words and things we would describe. For example:

  1. Talk about the word “GREEN”
  2. Find a definition for the word and link it to one or more of the following titles: Sharing, experimenting, making, teaching, playing
  3. Find one or more actions that can be created in the field of your title, in the area of Garnethill and then discuss in which way you can all contribute in these actions with your own skills and knowledge. Share a proposal and understand how that could be part of the Botanic Concrete laboratory. Start from ground 0. Imagine that there is no architecture, no urban space. How can this action contribute to the world?
  4. Open discussion: Are these proposals achievable? What are the next steps?

"Very productive session. People started discussing about their Right to the City and their way of reimagining their neighbourhood. The Brainstorming ended with lots of wonderful ideas and concepts, such as the Photocoffee project which took place at the Project Cafe a few months later."


Botanic Concrete Notes

Botanic Concrete overview

Mini brainstorm




The De-Tour is a self-guided, alternative tour of a neighbourhood or other walkable area. Directed by prompts, questions, suggestions and invitations, the De-Tour encourages participants to explore familiar spaces from a new perspective, to creatively reimagine the spaces of our everyday lives.

The De-Tour developed in response to and conjunction with Botanic Concrete participants’ desire to “get in the space,” to interact more directly with Garnethill.

The most important material for the De-Tour is a list of ideas and questions. Participants should meet beforehand to discuss their interests–what about the location is of interest to them? What questions do they have? What are their hobbies?–and use these ideas to formulate prompts and alternative ‘lenses’ through which to view the sites of the De-Tour.

A physical kit of tools (e.g. cameras, pens and paper) is a highly productive though ultimately optional component of the De-Tour. A box or other container can be used to hold not only these tools for exploration, but also for gathering any found objects during the walk. A map of the area is also useful, though not mandatory. Outdated maps, technical maps (e.g. sewer maps), or other alternative renderings of the area can stimulate investigation, and these maps can be used to create a ‘route’ for the tour.

De-Tour materials (.zip file)

The Botanic Concrete De-Tour allowed small groups of Botanic Concrete participants to explore Garnethill, investigating themes including green space, architecture, birds and words among others. After discovering that Garnethill was once the site of an observatory, we decided to use images of constellations to create our tour routes: constellations visible from Glasgow were printed on transparencies and overlaid on outdated maps of Garnethill, arbitrarily designating ‘sites of interest’ at each of the stars. The groups each focused on very different suggestion and tools within the box of suggestions and ideas assembled, and the process led to creative and verbal articulations of participants’ interest in the area as well as their interests for future projects. Participants discovered the remains of a night nurse’s residence, hidden courtyards, obstructions of public access to public space, and many words written on and carved into buildings expressing the history and voices of Garnethill.




This tool brings people/the community together. The photo acts as a mediator in sharing stories, experiences, historical facts, concerns, hopes and dreams about the neighbourhood.

Original Proposal

  • photographs (old or new)
  • space to pin them up
  • printed map to show their location
  • portable scanner, printer and photo paper
  • free coffee for people to come share their photos and their stories about the area

Other materials:

Photocoffee Event Poster

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 22.18.07

A beautiful session where people interacted, learned new things about their area and shared smiles. It would be interesting to try this sessions also in an open space, so that it becomes visible to even more people.

Photocoffee event photos


Photocoffee Garnethill photos

Charing Cross 1969
Charing Cross 1970
Cowcaddens Road at Cambridge Street 1978
Cowcaddens Street at Stow Street 1975
Sauchiehall Street (McLellan Galleries)
Sauchiehall Street 1960
Sauchiehall Street 1960s
Sauchiehall Street 1965
Sauchiehall Street 1975
Sauchiehall Street at Rose Street 1975
Glasgow Chinese Women's Group
GSA Demonition 2
GSA Demonition 3
GSA Demonition 4
GSA fire
GSA JD Kelly Building
Wing Hong Elderly Centre 1
Wing Hong Elderly Centre 2