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Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives

Claremont Court

Place and belonging: What can we learn from the Claremont Court housing scheme?

Claremont Court, Edinburgh

This project is an interdisciplinary collaboration across architecture, sociology, social work and social anthropology. It will explore how the built environment helps shape the atmosphere of a place and people’s sense of belonging to place at Claremont Court housing scheme in Edinburgh. 

These are particularly interesting issues to study in relation to Claremont Court, a housing scheme that was designed by the modernist architect Sir Basil Spence. The project will compare the architectural theories of place-making behind the original Claremont Court design, and the ways in which residents of Claremont Court engage with and ‘make’ place.

How we are doing the research?

As well as interviewing residents who live at Claremont Court, we will use the following methods:

  1. activity diaries -we are interested in people’s everyday lives at Claremont Court, and how the housing scheme relates to broader everyday activities
  2. walking tours - we are interested in how residents experience the built environment
  3. photo elicitations - we are interested in using photographs to help us understand how the place has changed and how the place used to be

Our colleagues at Northumbria will produce detailed drawings of the communal areas and interiors of some apartments, in order to explore how the space is being used, compared to the original designs.

What do we want to find out?  

Staircase at Claremont Court, Edinburgh

We are interested in exploring whether Claremont Court has a distinctive atmosphere, and what might help make up this atmosphere. We will explore the following issues with residents:

  • How do residents of Claremont Court contribute to how it feels to live there?
  • Is there a sense of community at Claremont Court?
  • What do residents think about the buildings?
  • How does the atmosphere of Claremont Court influence whether or not residents feel at home there? 

What will the outcomes of the research be?

Claremont Court, Edinburgh

The project’s findings will be published in a variety of forms: these might include reports, articles, books and oral presentations. The findings will be of interest to academics and to others who are interested in design, housing and community. A final event will be organised, where will invite residents from Claremont Court along with representatives from The City of Edinburgh Council and Historic Scotland to discuss our findings. 

The project team

The project team consists of architects Sandra Costa Santos and Nadia Bertolini from Northumbria University, with Vanessa May, Stephen Hicks and Camilla Lewis from the Morgan Centre.

Project news

For more information about this project, please email


This project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Ref: AH/N002938/1