Do It In Public … Dominic Cifelli

Introducing the wasteland collective…Dominic Cifelli.

What are wastelands?

Wastelands should not be viewed as markers of decline associated with negative connotations. Instead we should see them as results of change and spaces with potential for alternative uses.

Wastelands have not necessarily had a specific previous purpose. They can simply be a missed opportunity or a place with potential for more. The unique qualities of each site need to be highlighted.

They are not always negative as I feel wastelands are essential spaces in the city. They offer breathing spaces or break the rhythm of the urban gain.  Nearly all have a function despite it not always being apparent at first glance.

We should celebrate our wastelands.

What can wastelands be?

It seems to me that simple enhancements are often all that is needed to improve a wasted/ underused space.  I propose to build structures, furniture and installations. These should be easy to install and remove.

I intend to illustrate this point by using the layout of the gallery. A bench made from reclaimed materials will run along the wall into the window and continue out into the street. Thus making a connection from the inside to the outside. This might catch the attention of a passer by and invite them in.

The result will be a stark design because my aim is to react with minimum production in order to illustrate the simplicity needed to transform a space in a simple and fun way.  It is more about initiating rather than designing. I’d like to design designers out to make it a democratic solution.

The intervention should speak clearly in the designers absence. This will assist the exploration of a space and allow for reflection and interpretation of the surroundings.

Pallet collecting


Do It In Public … Cate Inglis

Introducing the wasteland collective…Cate Inglis.

What are wastelands?

A wasteland…a ruin…a forgotten place…where people once were but now are not. A loss of potential…a waste of resources….an eyesore? There is a sadness in these places that tells a story of someone’s forgotten dreams, failed plans and the amnesia of progress.

My practice is concerned with disused, derelict structures, forgotten spaces and their place amongst the constant rebuilding and evolution of urban landscapes. I record the effects of time upon the materials we use to build and fail to maintain, and the visual landscape created by layer upon layer of architecture that forever seeks to meet the needs of an advancing population.

All of these wasted spaces (and we are surrounded by them) could be so many things, as urban space becomes tighter. Through my paintings I invite the viewer to look – to really look – at what is all around us and ask themselves what was this? And what could it be?



Do It In Public … Thomas Clark

Introducing the wasteland collective … Tommy Clark.

What are wastelands?

I believe that a wasteland is an area of land that at one time had a specific purpose. The purpose has been removed and a new use for the area has not been established. The piece of land can no longer be defined. It was something, it may possibly be something in the future, but for now, it is nothing.

By my definition the signs of wasted space are simple. They are physical elements that were constructed for a purpose and are now no longer used. Houses that are not lived in, shops that are no longer open, industries that produce nothing.

For me the challenge is not necessarily to physically change wastelands, but simply to redefine them. A former industrial/ residential/ commercial site will always be considered a waste land if the public see it as being so.

What can wastelands be?

I would like to show that there is incredible ecological potential within wastelands, and it simply needs to be exposed. The extreme nature and singular function of these sites often creates unique conditions, diminishing common competitor species and allowing rare and unique habitats to grow.

I already had an interest in this particular topic after completing my dissertation on a similar subject. However, it became personally much more interesting when recently assisting an ecologist of a site survey in Perth. The ecologist noticed and recorded a huge range of plants and animals. By the end of the visit I realised that the road side we were studying was teeming with life and activity, and that it will almost always go unnoticed by the average person.

To take an ecologist onto an extreme post industrial site and survey what plants and animals are there. I will collect any evidence of interesting / rare / unusual species. I proposed to visit an extreme ‘wasteland’ with an ecologist and survey the range of species that live there. I will then collect the most interesting and rare examples and preserve them. I will compare the image of the run down site with the exuberant colour and life which is underneath the surface.The project aims to explore the existing potential of wastelands.

Do It In Public – the collective

Our Do It In Public exhibition is taking shape and the collective is pulling together to develop some really interesting approaches and responses to urban wastelands. The group of artists, designers, film makers, architects and landscape architects that are involved in the exhibition have taken various approaches to question, record and redefine what our modern cities do for us and how we can ask for more. Over the next wee while we will be giving over some of our blog entries to the members of the wasteland collective and the Do It In Public exhibitors to give you a taster of the exhibition work!

Watch this space…

‘Do it in public’!

We’ve been busy developing our plans for a follow up exhibition on the 19th of July, we are please to say we’ve had a brilliant bunch of collaborators get in touch, all with really interesting and original projects! Now we’re putting it all together: working with artists to reveal what urban wastelands are, and with designers and landscape architects to suggest ideas for what they could be.  Having looked through all the projects, we thought one thing that pulled them all together was that they seek for ways to do more in the public realm…… which gave us our ‘thought provoking’ exhibition title…

‘Do It In Public’!

We hope that the city’s decision makers and planners will be listening when we animate and illustrate the things we’d like to use our public open spaces for. It’s about having a freedom to do the things we love but in our collective urban environment: art, music, dance, learning, growing, eating, drinking…

do it in public logo

upcycled palette stools..easy peasy!

Yesterday we took on the task of upcycling two palettes and giving them a new life as stools! We wanted to create cheap, quick and fun recycled furniture to use within our first wasteland project. The aim of the project is to test some wasted spaces around the city of Edinburgh and see if a very simple and quirky intervention such as the stools can enhance and appropriate the space more effectively. We will combine the stools with some clean graffiti paving stencilling to leave our mark on these spaces around the city and we will also document the project throughout the day. Follow us on twitter to see where we are and the date of the event!

Creating simple upcycled street furniture is relatively easy (maybe enlist a helper with a bit of strength!) and is also free or at least cheap! Here’s some photos of the palette process :

All hands on deck

All hands on deck

Will it fit..?!

Will it fit..?!

Stencil time
Stencil time

Try the hen first...

Try the hen first…

...then us!

…then us!

Would you sit here?

Would you sit here?

The finished job!

The finished job!


you’re a waste of space!

All this chat about wasted land, under used urban space, untapped city potential made us wonder. Is there a parallel going on here between our thinking on the city and the state of our profession? As landscape architects, we talk too often about the dischord between what we know we can do and influence, and the project work we actually end up doing.  We think ‘regeneration strategy’ and do ‘supermarket carpark’. We dream ‘changing perceptions in urban liveability’ and do ‘municipal planting scheme’.  Our skill set, in creative problem solving, defining value and equity, consultation, participation, in design and procurement and delivery is compressed into a surface-level titivation exercise.

City land, don’t be a waste of space…

Landscape architects, don’t be a waste of space!

At The Wasteland Collective, we’re asking the urban landscape to work harder, and we need to do the same professionally.  We’re asking the city’s wasted spaces to come forward and be counted, and by the same measure landscape architects need to step forward and be recognised. Not to do so, and accept the status quo is the same as the city space which we allow to be acceptable when it could offer so much more.

We need to offer and promote alternative methods of working to demonstrate our value: our unique reading of the urban landscape, ability to represent and design balance for sometimes conflicting objectives, methods which merge creativity with science, our understanding of the value of Natural Capital. Involvement in projects like the Wasteland Collective offers a platform to demonstrate  this. We are able to act soley in the interests of our own understanding of urban landscapes, without the constraints of developer or landowner or commercial interest. And this is a turly revealing way to represent what we do.

Now is a time when people are listening. Business approaches are changing, tactics for urban regeneration are open for re-consideration. Urban space needs to be adaptable to this change, and the people perfectly primed to offer guidance and direction to this change need to be alert and briefed: landscape architects, your time is now.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change..‘, perfectly put, thank you Darwin!