Test Unit is an annual summer school in Glasgow exploring cross-disciplinary approaches to city development. Participants are invited to apply from across design, arts and urban development sectors. Each year there are 4-5 groups led by various industry leading facilitators that each explore a different theme addressing local issues. Ideas are taken from conception to realisation through a week long build-test-learn development cycle which engages with ideas, materials, people and place. Alongside the summer school, Test Unit runs a public events and symposium programme. 

Test Unit’s overall aim is to explore cross-disciplinary approaches to city development. It is based in Speirs Locks, an area linked to the canal in north Glasgow which is undergoing significant change; Test Unit aims to be a method of active enquiry and learning for the area. Through an intensive week of collaborative experimentation, it seeks to turn talk into action by testing ideas in public space. By bringing people together from various disciplines and skill levels, it creates an open forum for critical dialogue and peer-to-peer learning for all participants, partners, local stakeholders and audiences.

Over the four years, feedback from participants shows that the programme creates the most value in providing the opportunity for genuine cross-disciplinary collaboration, along with the chance to work across a variety of experience levels. The open format of the summer school also encourages participant-led learning, which creates a unique peer-driven educational model. Due to the broad themes and a diverse participant group it has been challenging to clearly communicate the activity and learning from the project - striking the balance between practical skills building, academic research and collaborative group work remains a struggle to achieve within such a tight time frame.

Rob Morrison, Director - Agile City

Test Unit is established and run by Agile City, a community interest company that creates space for work, events and learning while exploring inclusive city development. Project Partners for Test Unit 2019 included A Feral Studio, Architecture Fringe, Glue Factory, TAKTAL and the Glasgow Canal Project. 

Participants pay a small fee to cover their place in the programme. The principal funders are Creative Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Glasgow City Council.

'The Severed Hand' unit 2018 - Image by Jassy Earl 'The Severed Hand' unit 2018 - Image by Jassy Earl

Header Image: Opening Symposium 2018 in Civic House, Image by Jassy Earl

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