4th June 2021 9:00-13:15 (BST)

The Dundee Urban Forum will take place over a half-day, fully online (zoom).
The Forum will begin with a presentation from a local scholar, Dr Husam Al Waer, followed by an online workshop by Professor Mel Woods on virtual co-production methods (using visual collaboration platform Miro).

The workshop will introduce participants to the platform, with a learning through doing approach. Small group activities will address the theme of “Creative City Futures”.

A local round table will then take key themes from the workshop to discussed in the local context of Dundee, continuing to making use of the Miro platform as a collaborative discussion space.

Perspectives from a Southern City – Cape Town, South Africa – will follow, supporting expanded mutual learning. Local discussants will address the impact of Covid-19 on the city’s creative economy, alternative forms of creativity and urban interaction emerging during the pandemic and local opportunities for sustainable and inclusive (re)development.


Dr Husam Al Waer

Reader in Sustainable Urban Design, University of Dundee

Husam is an architect, planner and urbanist, with a background in architecture, urban planning and sustainability. He is currently Reader in Sustainable Urban Design at the University of Dundee and has worked with various UK and International governmental and corporate agencies on research, training and engagement projects. Husam’s work has had a demonstrable impact in both academia and practice. He has a focussed interest in the past and future of sustainable places, towns and cities, and in particular the development of new approaches to sustainable urbanism and the way new methodologies are facilitated and managed. He is a member of the Urban Design Group Executive Committee, and honorary chief editor of the Urban Design and Planning journal. 

Husam is an award-winning author with published work on a wide range of subjects from architecture, urbanism, sustainability and healthy neighbourhoods to the specifics of placemaking facilitation and performance evaluation. He brings insight to research, teaching, community stakeholder engagement and professional practice at the intersection between theoretical and contemporary policy and practice.

Husam has a national and international profile through his contribution to government departments and professional institutes. These include: The Scottish Government’s Planning Review Evidence; the recent Scottish Government investigation into community participation design processes; the RTPI’s Measuring Planning Outcomes; and coordinating and facilitating the Cairo International Future City Co-Design Workshop. He has been a Special Advisor to Scottish Government charrette events and the New Ideas Funded Programme.  

Husam is a Registered Overseas Architect, a Corporate Member of the RTPI, an Academician with Academy of Urbanism (AoU), a Recognised Practitioner in Urban Design (UDG), and a BREEAM AP Communities assessor.

Facilitating 20min Neighbourhoods: Catalysts for Creative City

This presentation will explore whether the Twenty Minute neighbourhood is a welcome or effective way to organise urban life. This initiative builds upon the long-established notion that people should be able to access most daily needs within 20 minutes of their home, thereby reducing commuting lengths and transport demand, and promoting local neighbourhood identity, health and liveability. However, this initiative raises some critical questions, particularly in the context of Covid-19 and the future of creative cities. This presentation aims to address issues such as: Can we accommodate an urban quarter in 20 minutes? Could it draw investment, services and power back into local communities? Or does it misjudge the hierarchical nature of cities, including the role of their centres? What would the benefits and risks be for the economy, health and the environment? For residents, traders, employers and transport providers? For the old and young, families and singles?

Creative Economy Futures Workshop

In the workshop we asked How has Covid-19 changed our priorities for urban creative economies? using the online collaboration platform Miro. Here groups focused on this question in connection in relation to themes: Creative Work, Finance, Communities, Institutions, Policy & Governance, Markets, Local Assets, Education, Sector experiences and Creative recovery. The miro board is available to view publicly.

Panel Discussions


Gillian Easson is Director of Creative Dundee, an organisation which supports creative talent to base, grow and sustain their practice in and around Dundee, by connecting and amplifying the city’s creativity. Gillian has grown Creative Dundee from the ground up since starting it as a blog in 2008, by catalysing opportunities for people and their place.
With a background in using digital, design and innovation processes to support the sustainability of creative communities, Gillian values the broader social impacts which networked creativity can generate. She has worked extensively internationally, sharing strategies and practical tools, and has worked hyper locally – leading the development of Dundee’s first Creative Industries Strategy. 
Working across the public and third sector before establishing Creative Dundee, Gillian was formerly with Nesta where she ran a range of training, mentoring and grant making programmes supporting the creative industries, digital arts and tech businesses across the UK/internationally.

Andy Robertson is a community worker, designer, artist and the Creative Arts Lead for Hot Chocolate Trust, a young people’s charity based in Dundee. For 20 years, Hot Chocolate have used creative approaches to engage, build relationships, and grow community with young people, partnering with them to make change at personal, community, and societal levels. Andy’s role there includes partnering with the creative and cultural sectors to make high-quality connections with those that are often marginalised and face significant barriers to participation, and using the arts to support young people around a wide range of issues and ambitions, including mental health, trauma and resilience, education and employment, housing and homelessness, relationships, identity and activism. https://www.hotchocolate.org.uk

Dr Stephen Pritchard is an independent academic, researcher, community artist, activist, art historian, writer, curator, critical friend and filmmaker. He lectures internationally and has written several book chapters. His work focuses on issues including community art, community development and cultural development, artwashing, activist art, self-organising, creative placemaking, culture-led regeneration, art in urban contexts, and arts and health.

Robin Presswood is Executive Director of City Development at Dundee City Council, with responsibility for Planning and Building Standards, Economic Development, Sustainable Transport and Roads, Property, Engineering and Sustainability. Robin started his local government career with Tayside Regional Council, had various elected, voluntary and non-executive posts with Dundee District Council, NHS Tayside and Scottish Arts Council, before joining Fife Council in 2004, where he was Head of a service combining planning, economic development, tourism, employability, building standards, environmental health, and trading standards.  He was chairman of Dundee Contemporary Arts from 2003 to 2016.


Ukhona Ntsali Mlandu is the Director of Greatmore Studios and Thupelo Cape Town Trust. The organisation is an artist-led community of practice established in the early 80’s. She founder of makwande.republic, a residency and ideas engineering space which is based in her ancestral village in rural Eastern Cape, SA. Mlandu has worked across the Creative Sector value-chain for the last 22 years in institutions like the Artscape Theatre, the Performing Arts Network of South Africa and as an independent consultant. She is also a practicing artist.

Marco Morgan is an urbanist who has worked extensively in various roles and spheres of the Government and community-based organizations to amplify the role of culture and community as integral and formative components for sustainable urban environments. Marco’s work has not been limited to the realm of officialdom and he has worked closely in different capacities with various organizations and initiatives such as the National Skate Collective, Open Streets Cape Town, and Creative Nestlings as they strive to improve the urban development model and push for a more inclusive and culturally-sensitive method of urban development and governance.

Ralph Borland is a researcher at HUMA, the Institute for Humanities in Africa at University of Cape Town. He is an internationally exhibited artist and curator, with work in the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art, and in public spaces in Cape Town. His work with street wire artists in Southern Africa for his projects African Robots and SPACECRAFT informs his perspectives on the informal creative sector in African cities. He was a postdoctoral fellow at African Centre for Cities at UCT. He has a PhD from the School of Engineering at Trinity College, Dublin, a Masters in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University, and an Honours Degree in Fine Art from the University of Cape Town. His research interests are at the creative intersection of arts, science and technology, including Interventionist Art, Critical Design, Object Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and Futures Studies. 

Luvuyo Kakaza is an Arts and Culture journalist with more than 20 years experience.  He has worked for several publications including the Mail & Guardian, City Press and the defunct This Day. He is co-founder of Jazz in the Native Yards, a mobile jazz concert series that has in the past six years has created performance platform for local, regional and international musicians and offered a space for social cohesion. He is one of the board directors for the Cape Town Music Academy, a non-profit organisation that offers Cape  Town musicians performance opportunities. 

Valmont Layne is a researcher based at the University of the Western Cape. He has extensive professional experience in the cultural sector as a musician, curator, museum director, archivist and in the field of cultural policy and advocacy. He is currently working on a book manuscript based on his doctoral research, a short documentary film project on Cape musicking histories, and is part of a team working to revitalise the digital archival collections of the University of the Western Cape. He lives in Muizenberg, Cape Town.


(local time)
8:50 Virtual CoffeeDr Lauren England
9:00 IntroductionFraming of purpose of event + scheduleDr Lauren England
9:15 Presentation with Q&AFacilitating 20min Neighbourhoods: Catalysts for Creative City Dr Husam Al Waer – Architecture and Urban Planning
10:00 Comfort break
(5 mins)
10:05 WorkshopDigital co-creation workshop Professor Mel Woods – Creative Intelligence
11:00 Comfort break
(10 mins)
11:10 Dundee Local Round Table Themed discussions Gillian Easson, Robin Presswood, Andy Robertson and Stephen Pritchard
12:00 Perspectives from Cape Town, SAThemed discussionsUkhona Mlandu, Marco Morgan, Ralph Borland, Luvuyo Kakaza and Valmont Layne
13:00 ConclusionFinal remarksDr Lauren England

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