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Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust

The City of Literature Trust is an independent company and charity in Edinburgh that runs reading and writing projects, and through the work of their Founding Trustees, secured Edinburgh’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Colin Hattersley Photography

Over the years the Trust’s activities have ranged from high profile citywide reading campaigns to one-day spectaculars honouring famous authors; from international exchanges to local residencies; and from one-off conferences to monthly Literary Salons.

They do this so that everyone everywhere has opportunities for literature to be part of their lives. They believe that literature in its broadest sense enriches the soul and brings joy, and that it is a true way to understand and celebrate ourselves, our city and our nation.

The Trust and their partners are currently exploring the potential for John Knox House to become the Literature House for Scotland as part of an expanded Literary Quarter in the Netherbow area of the Royal Mile. The new Literature House would be a unique and comprehensive interpretation, education and information point, providing a gateway into Scotland’s rich and diverse literary story.

Preparatory work has been completed for the project and further development work is underway. The ambition is for a Literature House to be created by 2022 with additional phases scoped for future development.

The Challenge

In re-conceiving the scope and mission of the Literature House the City of Literature Trust are keen to move away from the linear, top-down, contextual information-led exhibition approach that predominates elsewhere. Working with academics from the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier University, their aim is to recreate the key dimensions of the experience of reading, with a particular focus on the immediacy and intimacy of sensory and imaginative engagement. They would like to use technology to organise and present literary content in exploratory, creative and playful ways.

This challenge requires respondents to design and trial work for either ONE or TWO digital experiences (depending on resource and feasibility). One experience should work within a room in the John Knox House (potential future Literature House), while the other should be suitable for exterior deployment in the wider Literary Quarter area, the Netherbow area of the Royal Mile.

Credit: Chris Scott

The experiences must be available to participants, but not intrusively apparent to other people passing through, residing in, or using the space for other purposes. John Knox House is small in scale with a distinctly domestic character and given its historical significance will not permit any permanent physical interventions. Experiences for the wider Literary Quarter will also need to be deployed without substantial modifications to the exterior space around the Netherbow.

The design of one or both of these experiences should enable the City of Literature Trust to:

  • Understand what the technical requirements of the project are in terms of data, software, and hardware.
  • Establish and refine a workflow for the delivery of one or both visitor experiences.
  • Present a ‘proof of concept’ design for the visitor experience to gain feedback from users and to be used to support approaches to potential funders.
  • Better understand the possibilities they offer for fulfilling the organisation’s key aims.

Applications to respond to this challenge have now closed.

If you have any questions about this challenge please contact the Creative Informatics team via email at creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk.


If you are interested in responding to this challenge please contact the Creative Informatics team.

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