Welcome to Resilient Borders. This is a project about you helping to design a sustainable future for Galashiels and the Central Borders. We’re looking far ahead and asking some quite fundamental questions about how the town can transform itself to provide high levels of social support, well paying skilled jobs, great new tourism opportunities and of course a low carbon future.

Why Galashiels?

Many of the elements are already in place, beautiful countryside, a University on the doorstep, a fine textile tradition and of course the re-opened Borders Railway. All told, Galashiels should be on the cusp of a fulfilling future and we think that the resources the town has means you should aim high and be ambitious.


The Resilient Borders project gives you building blocks to construct some realisable visions. Graduate design students from the University of Edinburgh have worked here for two years, looking with a fresh pair of eyes on the resources and opportunities the Central Borders has to offer.

Our project is to couple our students’ work with your aspirations living and working in and around Galashiels for a sustainable and resilient future. Students’ projects are often speculative, sometimes challenging but always fresh in their thinking. We think that combining this with local knowledge, nous and ambition, a collaborative vision of a resilient Central Borders is achievable.


This project is important because it can lift expectations of what a sustainable town is. Sustainable settlements are about prosperous and cohesive communities as much as recycling and saving energy. Resilient Borders can provide a vision to inform planning and development in the short as well as the long term that gives you all a strong and ambitious blueprint for sustainable development.

Reimagining Galashiels 2040: Exhibition

The Resilient Borders Project: Reimagining Galashiels 2040

From workshop to exhibition, this project was about putting together an ambitious plan for how you want Galashiels to be in 2040. How do you imagine a prosperous, resilient, and cohesive community?

We used work completed by postgraduate design students as a starting point for a series of workshops that asked these questions. Community workshops asked participants to look at all the work, rate the projects to a series of sustainable metrics, and ultimately agree on a series of themes. Specifically, the second workshop embedded these themes in the town as a series of ambitious and far-reaching proposals. We’ve taken these, and presented them as a vision of how that town can be 25 years in the future. We’ve taken the student work and used this again to help visualise what these developments might really mean.

What you’ve proved is that the town itself is as ambitious as any student project in planning a sustainable and resilient town, fit for the future.

Throughout this process a bold vision for the future of Galashiels has emerged both from ideas brought forward in the workshops as well as from the postraduate student’s projects. Thus, this exhibition maps and links the outcome strategies and their possible materialisation as a coherent vision for a sustainable Galashiels in 2040.

What value does this work have in the longer term?

Over the years, you will be asked for your views and opinions for developing Galashiels. Some of the work here can be used to put together a more ambitious vision than what is often the outcome. We hope it allows you to see the town, differently. The coming of the railway was a milestone for the town, but its natural, economic and cultural assests are strong too. This project simply suggests some of the possibilities open to you all.

Energy Sources

The workshop identified different sources of renewable energies to help Galashiels 2040 become a more self sufficient and sustainable town. The waterways are used to generete clean energy through a network of hydropower stations. Wind farms are be strategically placed to capture winds, and Solar panel grids are proposed in south-facing fields.

Housing & Growth

One aspect of Galashiels 2040 that was not fully explored by the design students was accommodating housing growth to reflect new travel-to-work and pressure on housing in the Central Belt. The community workshops picked up the slack and thought carefully about the implications of long term expansion. Their proposals were a combination of infil and extension along with ambitious expansion around the east. Cohesion and inclusiveness were a key consideration to ensure a mix of housing type and tenure.

Business & Development

The workshops identified small business development as being important to long term resilience. Small market garden enterprises were suggested as well as growing key sites around the University and existing provision at Tweedbank. The town centre is transformed to provide clear routes and memorable places for the visitor, to make Galashiels a distinctive shopping centre with a wide catchment area. Opening up streets from the station and the making of a new commercial square provides opportunity for growth and expansion.

Education & Community Hubs

Our workshops thought carefully about how education and training can forge more cohesive communities. In particular the size and number of primary schools was debated. In the end, it was proposed that a campus for whole life learning and development be located adjacent to the University. It would include the High School, Further Education as well as business incubator and start-ups. The primary schools are all located really close to their catchment communities. The workshops thought that again these sites could be enhanced with more facilities to address the needs of all ages.

Tourism & Wellbeing

A combination of a strong textile heritage, and a compact town centre surrounded by a rich landscape means that new sustainable development  compelling proposition. A transformed town centre acts as a starting point for recreational pursuits including a summit art trail and mountain biking routes served by a new centre. The workshops and the students were both unanimous that a new cycling and pedestrian route would transform the experience of travelling from the town centre west towards Tweedbank. A major proposition is a new railway station at Langlee to serve both the education campus and housing in that part of the town.

Bringing it all together…


Workshop 2: The Strategies

After having collectivelly defined a set of themes, we took a step foward and asked: “Where would you imagine possible theme-based interventions and programmes being developed in the future?”

Large scale maps were provided for participants to directly draw and plot specific narratives and routes based on the themes produced in workshop 1.

We adapted a technique known as Appreciative Inquiry (AI), which moves away from traditional problem solving into a positive core approach. The session had two stages:

ddIn the Discovery stage, groups drew different narratives and asked them to identify current resources that the town has to offer relating to each theme, in other words, “the best of what is”.

The second stage of the workshop used the idea of ‘dreaming’ as a way to consider paths and strategies to a more resilient and sustainable town. We asked the workshop to plot the same paths from the Discovery stage, but instead how they may play out 25 years hence. It served as an opportunity to deploy the themes from the first workshop and think about their realisation in real physical contexts.

Narratives Theme 1: To weave Galashiels’ identity and place in the world.
  • Map what a tourist might do to experience the best the town can offer.
  • What places and spaces define Galashiels to the outside world?
Narratives Theme 2: To create an inclusive and diverse community.
  • Map the educational journey from preschool to higher education in Galashiels.
  • Locate and link what you think are places that have high job satisfaction and/or opportunity.
Narratives Theme 3: To reinforce a culture that is creative, entrepreneurial and in control of its future.
  • Map business and creative networks that define the town.
  • Plot and describe a journey through the best retail, market and hospitality places in town.
Narratives Theme 4: To preserve and develop the best of the built and natural environment.
  • Map what a tourist might do to experience the best the town can offer.
  • What places and spaces define Galashiels to the outside world?
Strategy Maps (Click on images to view)


Workshop 1: The Themes

img_4126The Resilient Borders project is essentially about community participation in imagining a sustainable future for Galashiels and the Central Borders. Looking far ahead, we asked some fundamental questions about how the town can transform itself to provide high levels of social support, well payin
g skilled jobs, great new tourism opportunities and a low carbon future.

Building on the work produced by Master’s students at the University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Sustainable Design programme, the first workshop gathered insights about what is important to participants as a community. It asked: “What do you think future developments in Galashiels and the Borders should focus on?”

We used a Focused Discussion Method to develop a series of fundamental themes that help us understand the characteristics of a reimagined community. In general, the session invited participants to look at the student projects, discuss their initial responses, explore their significance as a community, and collectively arrive at a set of themes for future development.

Workshop Methodology -01

  • To weave Galashiels’ identity and place in the world.
  • To create an inclusive and diverse community.
  • To reinforce a culture that is creative, entrepreneurial and in control of its future.
  • To preserve and develop the best of the built and natural environment.

Get Involved

As part of Reimagining Galashiels we want to run a series of workshops for those of you living and working in and around Galashiels. The purpose of the sessions are to identify priorities for sustainable development and where best to locate these. The work builds on design projects by graduate design students.

What? We use projects that have been undertaken by students to help shape a debate around what your priorities are. We use this work to provoke and widen our horizons and to think ambitiously. At the end of the workshop we hope to have a clear set of priorities for the kind of sustainable future that will transform the Central Borders. We are running this first workshop in early September.

Where? The next stage is for us all to consider and sites and locations where we can really make a difference to the town. Using large scale maps and visual aids, we can start mapping out a future in the timescale of a few hours.

How? We will take the findings of these workshops and use them to present a public exhibition as part of the Creative Coathanger Festival taking place in the Borders in September and October.

Want to be involved? – please complete your details here and tell us how you’d like to take part.

Our May Exhibition: After the Railway

MSc Students in Advanced Sustainable Design are holding their second exhibition in Galashiels entitled After the Railway. It is part of a two year project that has looks at a town on the cusp of change. The opening of the Borders Railway to Tweedbank not only transforms physical communications but also makes for a step change in the mindset of local communities in seeing commercial and cultural opportunity.

MSc Advanced Sustainable Design engages with social and economic futures that look beyond design as counting carbon. In response, the projects focus on issues as diverse as water treatment, transforming a much-loathed supermarket and starter units for high value textile manufacturing.

Many of the themes for the exhibition grew from community consultations and workshops earlier in the year and were developed in a series of stages from broad themes based around two new railway stations to the detail design of buildings, infrastructure and community education.

The exhibition runs until 7th June at Galashiels Library. For more information please go to http://www.resilientborders.com

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑