( OS prefers reducing animation! )



Home > Challenges > Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust

Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust

The City of Literature Trust is an independent company and charity in Edinburgh, established in 2004 that runs reading and writing projects.

Their activities range 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.

Their current project is the creation of a Literature House for Scotland, at John Knox House, as part of an expanded Literary Quarter in the Netherbow area of the Royal Mile. This will be a unique and comprehensive information, education and interpretation hub, providing a gateway into Scotland’s rich and diverse literary story.

Preparatory work has been completed for the project and the aim is to launch the main building development 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. 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.

John Knox House, in which some of the visitor experiences will sit, is small in scale with a distinctly domestic character and given its historical significance will not permit any permanent physical interventions. Experiences designed for the wider literature quarter will need to work in the open, without substantial interventions into the space. They must be available to participants, but not intrusively apparent to other people passing through, residing in, or using the space for other purposes.

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 Literature House, while the other should be suitable for exterior deployment in the wider literary quarter.

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 potential funders.
  • Better understand the possibilities they offer for fulfilling the organisation’s key aims.


Open calls for challenge project applications will happen twice a year in April and October. The application and awarding process for Challenge Projects involves two separate selection processes:

  1. Selection of up to 5 appropriate challenges to take forward.
  2. Selection of an appropriate response to each selected challenge to take forward and fund.

A selection panel will be put in place for both selection processes, with Challenge Holders forming part of the panel for the second phase of selection, where responses to their challenges are reviewed.


12.04.19ROUND #1

Applications open for the first round of Challenge Projects.

09.10.2019ROUND #2

Applications open for the second round of Challenge Projects.