Marischal Square, Aberdeen – Ongoing Development

Marischal Square - Work in Progress...
Almost Complete…

The Marischal Square project (by Muse Developments) on Broad Street is beginning to draw to a close. The exterior is now essentially complete except for a few cladding tiles here and there, the windows are in, and the final form of the property is now well-established.

The project has experienced some push-backs from parts of the community, and as yet, the premises is not fully let, but it has the potential to bring some hard cash to the city. Will the locals buy-into it? That is yet to be seen. However, I am optimistic as ever, and hope that it brings further prestige to the city.

As my principal obsession is with light, I have observed that that the warm evening sun kisses the walls rather beautifully. I am also rather taken-aback by the dark window frames which crisply and precisely puncture the walls.

At present, it is not possible to access the site, and so the photographic opportunities are quite limited. However, I shall be posting further images of this rather interesting space as the site begins to clear.

Please check-out my Instagram feed for further images (some of which are of this project).

Aberdeen Boat Club

Rowing has rather a chequered history in Aberdeen. Tracing its roots back to the 1860s, the activity grew in popularity, but suffered as a result of poor membership in the 1950s. In 1969, following an attempt to rekindle interest, the popularity once again dropped.

By the mid 1970s, rowing had begun its resurgence in part as a result of some successes internationally, and in the early 1980s the first part of the boathouse was built.

Taking a walk along the River Dee yesterday, I noticed that the building looked rather inviting in the sunlight.

Aberdeen Boat Club
Aberdeen Boat Club

Situated a few hundred meters along the river bank are the remaining rowing organisations of Aberdeen Asset Schools Boathouse, AURC & RGU Student Association Rowing Club.

Aberdeen Asset Schools Boathouse, AURC & RGU Student Association
Aberdeen Asset Schools, AURC & RGU Student Association Rowing Club

The city now has a thriving rowing community, comprising of members of all abilities, and the Aberdeen Boat Club is now the largest such organisation in Scotland.

If you’re interested in joining, click here.

Nuart Aberdeen, 2017

IMG_4187-Edit
Paste-ups by Julien de Casabianca, East Green, Aberdeen

So the inaugural Nuart Street Art Festival in Aberdeen has been and gone. However it has left-behind a legacy of captivating images on the walls and doors around the city centre.

Whilst the event was short-lived (14-16 April 2017), the organisers managed to pack-in a number of excellent interactive events such as tours, talks and even a film premier.

I’m sure that the event was a resounding success, and so I hope that it will return again in the future.

To see a selection of my favourite images from the weekend please click here.

Marine Operations Centre, Aberdeen

IMG_4010-Edit
Concrete “lighthouse” representing solidity

Built in 2006, on the north side of the River Dee estuary, the Marine Operations Centre was constructed to replace the old Roundhouse which had been in use since 1803. The Centre was designed by SMC Parr Architects, constructed by Sir Robert McAlpine, and won an Aberdeen Civic Society award.

The MOC appears at the southernmost point of the main Aberdeen beach, and sits like an exclamation point, marking the end of this stretch of coastline.

There are two main components to the building.

The white, concrete cylinder shown in the image, represents solidity, and from this position, resembles a light house. This was no accident: it was the architect’s intent. This cylinder houses the stairwell and other amenities.

The remaining section of the building, shown briefly in the image to either side of the cylinder, contains the business area of the premises. This section is glazed throughout and is shaped somewhat like a semicircular sail caught in the wind. According to the architect, this element of the design represents light.

The two elements: solid and light, intersect within the centre of the building.

I have taken many shots of this building over the years. I keep coming back again and again to look at it, but have struggled to connect with it (although I find it beautiful). However, something caught my eye on this visit and it was the presence of the fencing around the property, and the security intercom system. I realise that these measures are in place for security reasons and to protect the people and operations. However, they also keep the good spirits at bay, and make the building appear stand-offish and a little isolated.

Nevertheless, I still find the Centre beautiful from all angles. In the image provided, I have tried to highlight the bright, but weathered, lighthouse element against the protection of the dark and imposing security fencing, and menacing sky.

The Centre is worth visiting (although it’s rarely open to the public, as far as I am aware). I would advise sunrise or sunset / dusk for the best views.

Aberdeen’s New Business District

img_3987
Is this the new business hub?

Situated near to the intersection of Union Street and Holburn Street, this cluster of buildings span a 70 year period of construction within the city of Aberdeen.

Starting in the distance, the building to the left, which is currently under construction, is the Silver Fin. which has been designed by Cooper Cromar architects. It has nine floors of Grade A office space, and four floors of integrated vehicle parking. The pictured view is that of the property rear. The entrance is situated on Union Street. A brand new façade is being constructed, somewhat predictably, in granite.

To the right hand side of the Silver Fin in the image, is another Grade A office space with integrated parking. It has already been completed, but at the time of writing, appears to be uninhabited. The Capitol Building, designed by Keppie Design, in contrast to the Silver Fin, retains it’s original frontage on Union Street, which is that of an elegant 1930s art deco cinema.

Moving closer, the Justice Mill Travelodge is immediately apparent, with its stark black and white exterior and small windows. Designed by local architects, Cumming and Co, it couldn’t contrast more with it’s glass-skinned neighbours if it tried. Both ends of the building are book-ended with butterfly-roofed towers.

Adjacent to the Travelodge is the IQ Building, designed by Richard Murphy Architects. Yet another office premises, this time with an integrated hotel as well as parking. The IQ Building is once again clad in glass. However, in this instance, the walls are stepped down towards the residential area below. At present the premises are being leased to Centrica and Wood Group PSN.

Finally, to the fore is the unmistakable sight of the, now disused, Bon Accord Baths. The curved roof and tall glazed window apertures hide a truly beautiful art deco swimming pool within. The Baths were opened in 1940, and served the city well until the doors were finally closed in 2008 as a result of funding issues. Since then there have been attempts to sell the building, repurpose it, and even bring it back to life. However, in these times of economic uncertainty, it is unlikely to reopen any time soon.

Despite the lack of demand at present for office space within the city, I do feel that once the energy sector strengthens again, this pocket-sized district of the city will jump into life, and become a hub of activity.

Here’s hoping anyway…

The above image was taken from Willowbank Road.

Bridge of Dee, Aberdeen

img_3857
Ribbed Arches

The Bridge of Dee is situated towards the south end of the city at the terminus of South Anderson Drive, and despite other additions to the city’s infrastructure, is still a major thoroughfare. It is however a major bottleneck for vehicles especially at peak times, as it only supports one lane of traffic in each direction.

The bridge, unsurprisingly, spans the river Dee, and comprises seven ribbed arches. Constructed of dressed stone, a number of coats of arms are still visible today.

The Bridge of Dee was originally constructed in 1520 with £20,000 of funds bequeathed by prominent Renaissance Bishop, William Elphinstone (1431-1514) who founded Kings College, and drove the restoration of St. Machar’s Cathedral, both of which are situated in Old Aberdeen.

During its lifetime, the bridge has been restored in 1721 and widened in 1841. The widening was coordinated by City Architect, John Smith (1781-1852), who had originally proposed to build a new bridge, however the city council of the time declined.

Until 1832, the bridge was the only access to the city from the south. Plans are afoot to create a new Dee crossing so as to remove the bottleneck at this ancient structure, however, nothing has so far been crystallised.

When the water level in the river permits, it is possible to walk under the first arch through to the other side, as part of a much longer riverside walk along the Dee.

The image shows three of the ribbed arches from the south-side of the structure.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Aberdeen

img_3924-edit-edit
Mid-century Modern?

Situated at the busy intersection of North Anderson Drive and Lang Stracht (Long Straight), the church rests upon one of the high points within the city, and has probably been passed by most people who have visited the city on account of the arterial nature of Anderson Drive.

The building was constructed and dedicated in the 1960s and was the first purpose-built LDS church in Aberdeen. The walls are of red brick, regularly punctuated with white windows. The pitched roof was tiled in the 1990s; prior to this it was constructed of copper.

I understand that the church was designed in Salt Lake City. Given the period, this would explain the mid-century modern feel to the exterior.

The building is somewhat hidden behind a larger residential building to the south, and some trees to the north, and so it would be easily missed upon approach were it not for the tall spire.

The spire, which slices-through the large front porch, ensures that the building is clearly identified as a place of worship. A moderately-sized plaque on the front wall is all that indicates that this is an LDS church.

I have been fascinated by this building for many years: since I was a child in fact. I particularly relish the colour palette and textures of the building within its surroundings: the green, red, blue and white, the brick, concrete and stone.

RGU Curvy Rooftops

IMG_3609-Edit-Edit-Edit
Curves, Curves, Curves

The Robert Gordon University campus is located at Garthdee in Aberdeen (here). The whole site is constructed on a hill leading-down from the street towards the river Dee. The buildings pictured above are constructed into the hillside with sweeping curved roofs following the downward gradient.

I’ve been passing this spot for some time now and I have debated about how I want to capture it: there are many metallic surfaces in this perspective, and so on clear sunny days the cluster of buildings are too bright and contrasty. I therefore decided to wait until later in the day when the sun was lower in the sky, and there was some defined cloud cover. I was looking for something more low-key.

I was particularly interested in the repeating lines of the Aberdeen Business School’s curved roof and the wall of the Sports Centre. The light that day cast a nice gradient on both. The Sports Centre panels reminded me of a gray-scale colour chart.

I shall post more shots from RGU in the near future, as there are plenty more perspectives to explore.