GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus: An experience to never forget


International students wowed by the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus

The summer holidays may be in full swing but the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus keeps busy with many visitors and activities.

We regularly host students and faculty from all over the world. Our location on the Altyre Estate outside Forres gives us an ideal opportunity to showcase life and work in the Highlands and Islands and Moray to a global audience who are interested in the region for research and study. 

Last week was no exception with some very special guests. Ten undergraduates from the US came to the campus as part of the prestigious Fulbright Programme.

Fulbright students outside GSA Highlands and Islands

Fulbright students outside GSA Highlands and Islands

The Fulbright Scotland Summer Institute on Technology, Innovation and Creativity is a three-week cultural and academic programme for US students, hosted by the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde. As part of the programme, students explore Scotland’s culture, history and creative and technological industries. As our campus has only recently opened, this was the first time the we have hosted the cohort here.

If you’d like a sneak peak of the day, GSA product design student and intern at the campus, Sean Fegan has produced a video of the day to give you a flavour of what happened…

GSA Highlands and Islands – Fulbright students’ visit from The Glasgow School of Art on Vimeo.

The students took part in seminars in key GSA Design Innovation projects including digital health in rural economies and water and textile interdependency in the circular economy. So what exactly does that mean? 

GSA’s Dr Paul Smith hosted a workshop in the sunshine and explains:

“We spent a really great morning exploring the circular economy in textiles with some exceptionally bright students here on the scholarship. Circular economy is a significant step towards addressing the complexities of a more sustainable future, and the ten undergraduates showed real enthusiasm and intelligence with the task we set them. 

We asked them to work in teams to deconstruct the whole product ecology of a familiar textiles product and then reimagine it in a more circular material future. They looked at the origins of materials, the manufacturing processes, distribution and post use. They scrutinised the whole products life and then came up with some amazing sustainable alternatives. It was an inspiring and very illuminating time.”

20 year old Carly McCarthy, a student of Science, Technology and Society at Butler University in Indianapolis and 19-year old Jacob Easley, a Mechanical Engineering student from Mississippi State University with the outcome of their design workshop at the GSA's Highlands and Islands campus

20 year old Carly McCarthy, a student of Science, Technology and Society at Butler University in Indianapolis and 19-year old Jacob Easley, a Mechanical Engineering student from Mississippi State University with the outcome of their design workshop at the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus

19 year old Jacob Easley, a Mechanical Engineering student from Mississippi State University said: “Going to the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus was an experience I’ll never forget. Even during the short time I was there I was pushed to expand my thinking of what design really is.”

You can find out more information about the Fulbright Programme, or check out GSA’s press release about the visit.

And if that’s whetted your appetite to find out more about the campus then please visit our online pages.


The transformation of the Creative Campus: in pictures


GSA Highlands and Islands: before and after

Earlier this week (28/06/17) we heard the great news that Blairs Steading, which is home to the GSA’s Highlands and Islands Creative Campus is up for a top national award.

The campus located at Blairs Steading on the Altyre Estate near Forres provides high-quality research and teaching space and an exciting opportunity for students and staff to research and study in spectacular surroundings.

A 21st century design school in 19th century architecture
The Steading comprises a group of Grade ‘A’ listed Italianate buildings, built in the 1830s.

The buildings have been converted into a GSA campus, providing inspiring studio, workshop and exhibition space as well as state of the art areas for research, teaching, prototyping and flexible lab work.

Scottish awards for quality in planning
The Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning “are one of the Government’s most prestigious awards. They celebrate achievements in planning, from the detail of processing to the bigger picture of creating places which will become the legacy of our professionalism”.

Before and After
Our blog piece from earlier in the year shares some pictures of the restoration in progress:

Spring has finally arrived at the GSA’s Creative Campus in the Highlands and Islands. Beautiful daffodils are sprouting and other plants are pushing their way through the ground.

It’s also a real delight to see new leaves and buds appear on the quince trees in the courtyard – especially after watching their stick-like forms clinging on through winter.

daffodils at GSA Highlands and Islands

Daffodils springing up at GSA Highlands and Islands. Image credit: Jane Candlish

But that’s not the only transformation that’s taken place here.

The campus buildings underwent a major renovation to provide high-quality research and teaching space. Here we take a ‘before and after’ look of the GSA’s stunning new campus.

Tower GSA Highlands and Islands scaffold

The tower at GSA Highlands and Islands, rising above the scaffolding. Image credit: Fergus Fullarton Pegg

Converted Italian-style villa with tree branches

And the view when it was finished. Image credit: Paul Campbell

Since InDI officially moved to Altyre in November 2016, the Creative Campus has also changed on the inside.

Students and researchers have made the studio space their own. It’s great to see all the activity going on there now – research, meetings and teaching. True to GSA’s studio approach, our studio is at the heart of the campus. The studio walls are filling up with examples of work, sketches and plans, as well as the odd Post-it note.

The campus provided a spectacular setting for Winter School in January. Our students and visitors found it an inspirational place for the two–week event.

Studio GSA Highlands and Islands

The studio being stripped back. Image credit: Fergus Fullarton Pegg

Teaching studio at GSA Highlands and Islands

The finished studio is now occupied by researchers and students. Image credit: Paul Campbell

And there’s still a nod to the original use of the buildings in their new names.

The studio is The Dairy; the exhibition space is The Granary, and our operations base is The Cottages.

This is the just the start of the journey here at GSA Highlands and Islands: being specialists in Design Innovation means that we’re always looking to try new ways of working.

There’s lots of ongoing discussions about the future so watch this space!

Find out more about the Creative Campus here.

Granary GSA Highlands and Island renovation

The Granary as it was during renovation. Image credit: Fergus Fullarton Pegg

The Granary, Winter School 2017

The Granary was filled with student activity during Winter School 2017. Image credit: Paul Campbell


Another chance to Re-Mantle and Make

InDI researchers are offering another opportunity to take part in the Re-Mantle and Make project.

Designers are invited to sign up for the second Re-Make-A-Thon, this time at the GSA’s new Highlands and Islands Creative Campus in Forres.

The project is a six-month feasibility study into researching the potential for developing a circular economy within the textile manufacturing sector. In a circular economy, resources are used and re-used for as long as possible. Designers with an interest in these themes are particularly encouraged to join in.

Women with piles of material. Re-Mantle

Participants in the Re-Make-A-Thon get to grips with the materials. Image credit: Louise Mather

During the first Re-Make-A-Thon in Glasgow, textile designers from across Scotland were given a brief that asked them to transform surplus materials from local textile manufacturers into a prototype circular collar that could be worn with different garments.

They spent a day working on their designs, with some fascinating results. You can read more and see pictures from the day-long workshop on the Re-Mantle and Make website.

Now the team is preparing for their next session, which will take place at Blairs Steading, Altyre Estate, on Thursday February 2, from 9am-7pm.

If you are interested in taking part or would like more information, please contact Zoe Prosser, [email protected]

More information on Re-Mantle and Make is also available on our previous blog.

The Glasgow School of Art has secured funding for the study from the Royal College of Art, London, which is leading a larger project: Future Makespaces in Redistributed Manufacturing, a two-year research initiative funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. This wider piece of work explores the role of maker spaces in redistributed manufacturing.

InDI’s work is in partnership with Kalopsia Collective – a micro-manufacturing unit based in Edinburgh, and MakLab Maker Space in Glasgow.

Presenting the designs at Re-Mantle and Make

One of the designers presenting their collar designs. Image credit: Louise Mather