As part of the larger SASA (Scottish Architecture Students Assembly) 2010 event, ‘Brand Vs. Ethos’ was a design led workshop hosted by Pidgin Perfect which invited 20 students from the six schools of architecture in Scotland to take part in a topical discussion, react and make a statement.

‘Brand Vs. Ethos’ investigated the current identity crisis taking place within Scotland, and more specifically Glasgow. Challenging the premise of branding the city as a commodity, the workshop asked for the participants to devise their own manifesto for how city’s should identify themselves and then subsequently produce a piece of propaganda to illustrate their manifesto whilst tackling the current ‘Glasgow: Scotland with Style’ marketing campaign.

The workshop began at the office of Collective Architecture where Jude Barber, a director at the office, presented a small seminar on the topic of ‘self actuated projects’, refering greatly to her work with GLASpaper which began as a student project and then subsequently transformed into an internationally respected set of journals. This discussion set the precedent for the ideas and concepts of the workshop, essentially providing young and talented students of architecture with the tools and medium in which to communicate their opinions and manifesto’s on urbanity and general everyday issues.

The workshop posed that we need to reject the idea of the city as a brand to be marketed and rather develop an ethos in order to create a meaningful collective urban identity? ‘Brand Vs. Ethos’ used the tools of ‘branding and marketing’ to demonstrate how the reductive branding of cities (such as Glasgow) ignores heritage, place and people with the physical result being the closure of active elements which no longer sit within the manufactured image of the city.

The propaganda created explored the ramifications of the loss of continuity, expropriations, speculative developments, buzz word regenerations, elitist cultural projects and suggested more meaningful images to represent Glasgow as a city.

Interestingly so, all of the workshops groups looked towards finding stories and images from actual Glaswegians to portray ideas on the attitude and ‘style’ of Glasgow. The end result suggested that an acceptance of Glasgow as a melting point of culture, history, immigration, ideals and attitudes could have been simply portrayed by embracing the notion of, ‘Glasgow: Scotland with STYLES’… the plurality of ‘styles’ illuminating the great depth, variety and character available. This ‘new attitude’ was then supported by a series of satirical and humours images that typical represent ‘Glasgow Banter’.

‘Brand Vs. Ethos’ was launched at Mono Café/Bar in the Kings Court area of Glasgow with one of the workshops associated tasks being to ask the participants to curate a Flash Mob exhibition in Mono Café/Bar in 45 minutes to display the work created that day. The exhibition was launched to the public that evening with many local artists and architects in attendance; including Jude Barber and Chris Stewart of Collective Architecture, representatives from NORD and Chris Leslie amongst others.

With great thanks and appreciation to Central Station and Central Station Member Fund for all there help and support in making this event as successful and special as possible.


SASA was one of the projects awarded cash from the Central Station Members Fund.