Leading Scottish designer explores innovative international youth engagement projects
Published: 2 Sep 2016
Marc Cairns is a Director at Pidgin Perfect, an award winning multi-disciplinary creative studio based in Glasgow. He has recently returned to the UK after four weeks travelling across Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Turkey and Azerbaijan, where he researched ways in which a wide variety of development programmes are working to build better communities through youth engagement projects which promote active citizenship. Marc’s travels were enabled by a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship Award, in partnership with the British Council.
By visiting countries with youthful populations, high levels of youth unemployment and where the impact of significant recent social and political upheaval is being felt, Marc was able to engage with world-leading projects that are influencing intergovernmental processes and policy making. Focusing upon the inclusion of young people in design thinking and decision making, these projects are placing particular importance upon the use of new and disruptive technologies to open-up the way in which important decisions are made.
During his travels Marc visited community hacker-spaces, contemporary galleries, open schools, UNICEF innovation labs and co-working maker-spaces, and met with ambassadors, UN coordinators, artists, and, of course, young people. One highlight was meeting with the team at Bonevet (Gjakova, Kosovo), a non-profit community centre dedicated to re-energizing the spirits of young people through giving them the opportunity to meet, network and build within a maker-space equipped to encourage hands-on learning through robotics, 3D printing, programming, and electronics.
“The opportunity to visit countries which are at a critical turning point in their development timeline and directly meet with those people who are crucially building authentic public participation programmes has proven to be an invaluable experience for me and my practice. The conversations and insights I have gained will help the team at Pidgin Perfect to further advance our ways of working and develop new models for creative youth engagement programmes for our wide range of clients and commissions.” - Marc Cairns
Since returning to the UK, Marc has begun writing a visual report on the development programmes he visited. These findings will be used by Pidgin Perfect to influence best practice guidelines across the planning and regeneration sector in the UK. Marc will also disseminate his research at a number of public and academic speaking commitments scheduled for 2017.
Notes to editors
Twitter and Instagram: #MarcWCMT16
Marc Cairns has been a Director at Pidgin Perfect since its establishment in 2011. He graduated in 2010 with a Masters in Advanced Architectural Design with distinction from the University of Strathclyde after spending one year working under Daniel Libeskind in New York City and completing his Bachelors of Engineering with honours in Building Design Engineering, also at the University of Strathclyde. At Pidgin Perfect, Marc has led on the delivery of a wide range of temporary and permanent public art and cultural projects across Scotland alongside the development and facilitation of wide reaching creative community engagement programmes focused around the regeneration of built environments. He is also a Researcher and Subject Specialist Supervisor for the MA Design within the School of Arts & Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University, recipient of a 2016 Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship and co-founder of The Telfer Gallery in Glasgow.
Since 2011, Pidgin Perfect has been working to place the community at the heart of projects across Scotland and beyond; combining research, participation and design to help build better communities for everyone. They have worked as and with artists and designers to promote the imaginative role that multi-disciplinary practice can play in the creation of aspiring places.
Having fun has been a serious part of their process over the past five years and through collaboration, storytelling and a unique understanding of context they have delivered socially rich outcomes for a variety of clients; including Architecture & Design Scotland, Glasgow Housing Association, Marine Scotland, National Theatre of Scotland, Scottish Book Trust, Scottish Government and Scottish Wildlife Trust and major commissions; representing Scotland at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, presenting projects at the 2012 World Design Capital Helsinki, 2014 World Design Capital Cape Town, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, UK/Nigeria 2015-16 and 2016 Lahore Biennale.
The British Council's Architecture, Design, Fashion (ADF) department creates links between designers and cultural institutions around the world, through a diverse range of projects across the three disciplines. The British Council’s partnership with the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust enables Design Fellows to apply to ADF for a follow up grant to further the outcomes of their Churchill Fellowship.