To coincide with the International Festival of Storytelling in Edinburgh, our discussion focused on the art of storytelling, and some of those stories behind our projects.
What we build becomes after all the dust has settled, the material of stories.Every site has its own story, the story behind the project, those who made it, the ideas that shaped it and ultimately those who used and visited it. At its simplest the narration will document the procurement, construction, need of the society, a kind of log book of actions. At the other extreme embedded in that prosaic backcloth is the hopes and dreams of clients, designers makers and users.
Why is that important for what we build now. Whilst we would all acknowledge the architectural decorative elaboration of pre-twentieth century, the current retrospective interest in our later modernist legacy is revealing an underlying strata of artistic and cultural influence in what otherwise one would regard as a prosaic period of development.
What this shows us is nothing we build can therefore be story-less. If we then add to this that every setting is different, that each setting is made up of many histories - we have to acknowledge we will simply be part of future history, we have to embed in our thinking a message to the future of the journey and thinking behind our contribution.
Often these stories will be covert – like the serpentine inspired wrap around the category A listed Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, all within a transformed 'Bishop Eden's garden'. There is no need to emblazon all our musings on our arms. Sometimes these are a little more obvious – such as the subtle musical inferences at St Cecilia’s museum of original instruments under construction in Edinburgh's Old Town.
And occasionally there are special buildings that are vessels in which to house a story – such as the new building at Tweedbank for the Great Tapestry of Scotland. The tapestry has had a sensational effect and impact in attracting a huge audience of interest. In representing Scottish history in over a 150 bespoke panels, the underlying template by the artist Andrew Crummy, the writer Alexander McCall Smith and historian Alistair Moffat, has become the work of a constituency of many stitchers. It's new home in the Borders Town of Tweedbank at the end of the new Borders line, will be a special room lifted above the ground to house the collection, wrapped in a wall impregnated with the setting out armature that the stitchers worked within the actual pieces - outside the anticipation, inside the glorious achievement.