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Chris Stewart

Collective Architecture's Chris Stewart discusses his overlapping roles as architect and member of the Scottish Ecological Design Association in promoting green design to a wider audience.

Repurpose Idea (an archi fringe workshop)

June 3rd, 2018

‘Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn.’ T.S. Eliot

An important part of recycling is the reuse of narrative and memory. This can be extended to the reuse of idea, where thoughts, memories, emotions and physical possibilities can be kept alive, stolen, passed on and reinvented. Do we understand fresh thought, should we promote a right to copy (as opposed to copyright), can we make it easier to recycle ideas.

How do people come up with things, everyone associates their discovery with Archimedes screaming Eureka as he watches his bath water rise in proportion to his immersed body parts. Unfortunately this is far from the norm, strokes of genius happen over time. They come in to the world via false starts, observations, memories, revisits and most often through the ideas of others. It is no surprise that Pablo Picasso’s most famous words are ‘Art is theft’.

Stealing ideas does not come naturally, we are hard wired not to copy. Some say there are no new ideas, nothing comes from no where, this is not entirely true. No one makes a perfect copy, some will join ideas together, they morph with character. Imitation is one step from emulation, and comes in the form of precedent, research, transformation as opposed to copy, theft, plagiarism. Dig deep, steal from the many, always give credit and mix things up.

How is all this made easier, do we need to bounce ideas, do we need solitude, do we need identity, do we search, do we store these up, do we need a vocabulary. The word creative is no longer just an adjective and is now used as a noun. Millions of workers are now tagged creatives who each day have to come up with ideas, designs, solve problems, strategise and think. They are obliged to add more than the sum of parts on a daily basis. This type of job may seem a dream however there is pressure to produce ideas at a given time.

As the world changes recycling ideas in a free and open manner will become more and more important. Through a series of interlinked workshops spread over the course of a short day we will explore the premise of repurposing, research how ideas are created and explore the right to copy. Merging thoughts generated at the workshop together with physical walks we will create an ideas map (no pressure). The walks will be centred around Glasgow Barrowland heading North to the Cathedral and it’s Necropolis; South to the open spaces of Glasgow Green dotted with it's monuments; West to the the Merchant City with it's shops and East to the dual Bridgeton Libraries.

Our map from the workshop will form part of the Scottish Ecological Design Association’s (SEDA) Expedition Series and be developed by graphic artists 'Designers on the Run'. Ideas Expedition will be published on SEDA’s website for download by the general public. The workshop will be held at Collective Architecture’s office which is centrally located in proximity to Barrowland. The project forms part of Archi Fringe and is supported by Zero Waste Scotland and the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre. Please come and join us details and booking at

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