Dott 07 creates sustainable design plan for North East

It could be the second coming of the Industrial Revolution – only a sustainable version this time – which is perhaps why Designs of The Time 07 is focusing its attentions on the North East for its first project.

Dott 07, led by programme director John Thackara and executive producer Robert O’Dowd, is a year-long project and a collaboration between the Design Council and the regional development agency One North East.

It will be looking at how design can make a positive contribution to the cultural, economic and social success of the country. This fledgling project involves all aspects of the community, which will undertake a variety of innovative design projects that subsequently will be showcased in a range of exhibitions and events.

Dott will then be rolled out to a different region or nation in the UK every two years for a minimum ten-year period, drawing on the key insights gained from the original event.

Dott 07 and the Design Council looked for an ambitious region to start the ball rolling and chose the North East because it had ‘such a remarkable amount of energy’, according to Thackara.

Six core themes have been selected. These are inspired by aspects of daily life in the region and, in turn, linked to a community project.

The themes are: health and well-being, food and nutrition, school and community, energy and environment, sustainable tourism and mobility and access. Projects will look at helping schools, communities and businesses to grow their own fresh food, ways of making homes more energy efficient, rebuilding schools in the region, and improving sexual health screening, transport systems and the lives of people with dementia and their carers.

Thackara says, ‘This is the first time the region has looked at itself through a design lens. Everybody has to focus on sustainability. They are building on current designs and it is very inclusive. They are taking one strand and seeing if they can improve it. We are doing major projects in collaboration with different communities and organisations.’

According to David Kester, chief executive of the Design Council, ‘The idea is about helping to accelerate sustainability and prosperity, placing design at the heart of the region’s economic plans. Our interest is to ensure that we are promoting design effectively, as well as design nationally. It really delivers long-term economic benefits. The concept [involves] a number of different organisations, individuals, designers and so on.’

Each community project will feature in a number of exhibitions and events, which will run from March to October this year, culminating in one big event held in Newcastle/Gateshead in October. The Dott Festival will celebrate the achievements of all the participants, with Creative Community Awards going to the most successful projects.

Robert O’Dowd, executive producer of Dott 07, says, ‘The framework is about taking something that is already there and seeing how it can be improved. We bring to the community experience and designers and then they do the work.’


• Urban farming, to help schools, communities and businesses grow their own fresh food in Middlesbrough
• Low Carb Lane, one street in Northumberland looking at ways to make their homes more energy efficient
• Design and Sexual Health project, to look at improving screening and treatment provision for sexual health in Gateshead
• Move Me project in Scremerston, Northumberland, which will look at improving transport systems
• OurNewSchool, a design lab set up in a school in the region, part of the Government’s Building Schools for the Future scheme
• Alzheimer 100, to look at how design can improve the daily life of people with dementia and their carers

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