Bringing the future to life

Throughout our project Shared visions of a sustainable Scotland, we will be issuing updates based on our conversations with our co-visionaries in Scotland. Below are some reflections on the second workshop and the ideas we will take into the third and final workshop this week.

In our last shared visions workshop we used scenarios to explore what Scotland could look like in the future. For instance, if “national success is not measured by GDP, nor personal success by bank balance, but by healthy outcomes for people and planet” or where “high public awareness of sustainability has everyone making climate-conscious decisions in personal and public life.”

Our focus now shifts towards bringing all of these ideas together into potential creative outputs such as images, concept art, illustrations or data-visualisations. And exploring how we can present the ideas and concepts to an external audience.

Potential creative outputs from the Future Visions workshops

Exactly what they will look like is still up for grabs in the final workshop on Thursday 27 August but as a starting point the team has created the three concepts based on the different types of conversations we have been having. When we have discussed how things might look in the future in our workshops, we seem to do so through different lenses.

The first is our current view point: the status quo.

The status quo is sticky. It is hard to get away from it and really think about how things could be radically different from what we know now.

When asking the question “how could things be radically different?” we often find ourselves discussing the current innovations that we know will soon become more mainstream. We may push them forwards a little bit into the near-future, but it's hard to extrapolate from that further into the future. Alternatively, we can get sidelined discussing the blockages we currently experience that inhibit progress and not progress past that at all.

Getting out of our own heads and past current constraints is hard.

Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.

Bill Gates

So too with societal change.

It is a beneficial task to force ourselves to lift our eyes from what we are experiencing now, down at our feet, and look a little further away towards the horizon and gain perspective. We have found that there have been three distinct areas of conversation where we have been able to contemplate a better world - these perspectives are the lenses that help us to see a little further away.

  1. Physical places and spaces and how they might change over time.
  2. The future of people, their relationships and habits, and how they will be affected in a changed world.
  3. Through the passing of time itself. Looking at the incremental changes that occur as we pass through the waypoints heading further and further into the future.

We will use these lenses to form three creative concepts that can be illustrated or visualised in some way for an external audience.


Taking on the perspective of time, we will create a timeline for each topic; sustainable work, industry and environment. The timelines will show more and more progress into the future over a ~30 year period. This could take the form of a fold out book, as we ‘fold out’ each section of the timeline, more things have changed and lives start to look very different.


Fold out Usborne books like this Dinosaur Timeline show the evolution of the dinosaurs and their changing environment over time…

A fold out children's book

… although we hope ours has a better ending.

Panoramic places and spaces

Taking on the perspective of a new place, we will inhabit three fictionalised ‘real-world’ spaces in Scotland: a future city, a town and a rural greenspace. Placing ourselves at the centre of them to look around and explore the new world we inhabit, some things will have changed and some will remain familiar.

This could be an interactive panorama or a 360° image made of elements of familiar or real landmarks but which sit in less familiar landscapes that can be scrolled and explored in VR.


Panoramic computer game environments

A panoramic view from a video game

360 images of real places.

A still from a 360 degree image

People of the future - a day in the life

We will take on the perspectives of three future people and see what a day in the life of a school pupil, a professional or job seeker and a leader looks like. What is new and what is familiar?

This could be a series of images or storyboards for each person that build a narrative through their day with different areas of interactivity or data-points that can be explored in more detail.

A still from BBC feature This is what coronavirus will do to our offices and homes


Kyle Usher

Kyle Usher

Kyle Usher

Mission Manager (Scotland) - A Sustainable Future

Kyle is Nesta’s Mission Manager for Scotland working on the A Sustainable Future mission and based with the Scotland team in Edinburgh.

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