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Future Cities Scotland – a storytelling project by Nile

A 9-part, long-form digital story telling project, exploring design and foresight thinking through the stories of Scottish cities.

Co-authored by Lauren Razavi

Illustration of Scottish landmarks
Massive credit to our very own Robyn Johnston for the illustration

Read our long-form writing project, exploring design and foresight through the lens of urban futures in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Stirling and Perth.

Glasgow: A New Global Space Leader

Glasgow: A New Global Space Leader

The space industry is booming globally this century. Should Scotland’s second city bet its prospects on future tech?
May 5, 2020
Edinburgh: A Rogue City in the Making

Edinburgh: A Rogue City in the Making

As tensions mount over Scottish independence, will the city of Edinburgh forge its own path?
May 12, 2020
Aberdeen: From Fossil Fuels to Renewables

Aberdeen: From Fossil Fuels to Renewables

When a city’s history, economy and identity is based on fossil fuels, how can it diversify its offering and pave the way to a prosperous future?
May 19, 2020
Inverness: The Rural and Urban Divide

Inverness: The Rural and Urban Divide

Across the world, people are moving from the countryside to cities. What tensions are emerging as a result, and how can we address them?
May 26, 2020
Dundee: Designing for the Future Human

Dundee: Designing for the Future Human

With its vibrant background in video games and design innovation, can the city of Dundee kickstart new thinking about mental health?
June 2, 2020
Stirling: Shaping a Circular Future

Stirling: Shaping a Circular Future

Could Stirling become a zero waste hotspot, and lead the small cities of the world to follow in its footsteps?
June 9, 2020
Perth: Preparing for the Future of Work

Perth: Preparing for the Future of Work

The Scottish city of Perth punches above its weight for entrepreneurship. Is its understanding of tomorrow’s workplace the key to its success?
June 16, 2020
You’ve finished reading Future Cities Scotland. What next?

You’ve finished reading Future Cities Scotland. What next?

Seven lessons from seven cities
June 23, 2020

It’s a time of immense global change. On just about every level. That was true before coronavirus rocked the world, and it’s even more true in the aftermath. It’s hard for anyone to make sense of it all. To understand their place in all this chaos.

Yet our mission at Nile is to do just that. For people like us—designers, strategists, technologists, futurists, storytellers—anticipating and navigating tomorrow’s world is just part of the day-to-day. 

On the best weeks, we play our part in shaping it too.

As new challenges emerge, so do new opportunities. Our role is to pay attention to how power, possibilities and consequences interact across industries and domains. To understand what decisions mean for the future of human experience and connection.

Nobody was prepared for the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t see it coming. In fact, five years ago, Microsoft founder Bill Gates stood on a TED stage and predicted the events of this spring in astonishing detail. There’s a difference between being aware and being prepared. Despite the warning signs, we failed to act.

With such failures come important lessons. New insights to inform how we approach things. Signals of possible futures. We live in a tightly coupled, complex and interdependent global system. A volatile world where simple decisions have far-reaching consequences. How can we thrive in the middle of so much uncertainty?

The designer’s toolkit is a good place to start.

Our experience of COVID-19 can become a catalyst to build and nurture more resilience on every level. In our relationships. In our organisations. In our cities. In our governments. In our personal health.

To achieve that resilience, we need to recognise the pace of change and create a shared roadmap that stakeholders across politics, industry, academia and wider society can all get behind.

Over the next eight weeks, we’ll share a new longform story with you every Tuesday. From space travel to the future of work to zero waste living, the series explores the major power shifts happening this decade through the lens of Scotland’s seven cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Perth, Aberdeen, Inverness and Stirling. 

Speaking to local changemakers and leading global thinkers, we consider what’s ahead for these cities. We examine the barriers, the potential and, often, the impressive progress already made.

It’s an important moment for everyone to think about the future. The next step from there is to begin shaping it—that starts with identifying the right tools and learning how to use them. 

We’re incredibly grateful to our friends at the Institute for the Future in California for providing the futures framework we used to create this series. We’d also like to say a big thank you to the inimitable Derek Wyatt, who shared wisdom, viewpoints and perspectives that were crucial to helping us shape the project in its early stages.

Future Cities Scotland will show you how design tools like foresight can be harnessed to help us better prepare for an uncertain future, while also painting a vibrant and ambitious picture of our home country and its prospects.

Feel free to share the stories far and wide. We see each piece as the start of a conversation, so we’d love to hear your thoughts.

An interesting read? Give it a like and share!
Sarah Ronald

Sarah Ronald


Award-winning design entrepreneur, bar owner, investor. Passion for insight, human behaviour and our intersection with technology. Have a question about something I’ve written? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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