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).

The Barn @ Barra Castle

I had the good fortune of being invited by a fellow photographer to The Barn in order to support him during his first ever interiors shoot.

The weather was gloriously sunny, and the brand new venue, near Inverurie, shone bright. One lucky couple were due to have their wedding there later that afternoon and so we had to grab our shots and disappear before the festivities began.

The Barn at Barra Castle
The Barn – Main Exterior View

The view from the windows point towards Bennachie, making the vista both awe-inspiring and romantic (perfect for that wedding!)

Spacious, Yet Intimate

It is easy to imagine a couple taking their vows in front of such a picturesque backdrop. However, The Barn would be extremely well-suited to other activities such as ceilidhs and corporate events.

The space is large and open, but can be separated into sections by light and airy curtains.

Details and Textures

The owners have obviously taken great effort to create a beautiful environment, and have succeeded, and then some!

For anyone considering a location for their event, far enough away from the crowded towns and cities in order to disconnect, then this is the place for them.

To see further images from the day’s shoot, see the gallery here.

If you are interested in further information about the venue visit the Barra Castle website here.

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Marine Operations Centre, Aberdeen

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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

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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.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Aberdeen

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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

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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.

Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen

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Bold and Beautiful

The library is situated on the western edge of the University of Aberdeen’s King’s College campus. It was completed in 2012, and built to replace the Queen Mother Library which sat directly south of it on the same site (to the right hand side in the image).

The original library had been built in 1965 and then subsequently extended in 1978 and then again in 1982. However, it was never designed for the large number of visitors that it served, and so a replacement was sought. The architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen won the project to commission the new space.

The Sir Duncan Rice building is a simple cube from the outside, clad in an irregular pattern of insulated glazing. The glazed surface appears to float above ground level. The dark panels are transparent, the lighter ones are not.

On the north side, glass elevators rise to each of the floors. From within each there is an unobstructed view of St. Machar Drive and the University’s Zoology building.

From the centre of the ground floor looking upwards, irregular curved cut-outs on each of the floors create an atrium that extends towards the sky for a breathtaking view.

My image does not allude to the sheer boldness of the architects who have designed a piece which sits within the grounds of an ancient university. The library is a mere stones-throw away from King’s College which was built around the year 1500.

In fact the two buildings are visible to each other. Just a few hundred yards and 400 years apart.

The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health

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Metallic Exoskeleton

The Rowett Institute was formed in 1913, and was built in the Craibstone area on the outskirts of Aberdeen city. Its original purpose was to research animal nutrition. This was later extended at the stipulation of its benefactor and namesake, Dr. John Quiller Rowett, to include research on human nutrition.

The institute formally merged with Aberdeen University in 2008 whilst still based at its premises to the south side of Dyce airport, and was renamed The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health (RINH).

In March 2016, the institute relocated to its new custom-built home on the Foresterhill site (designed by Halliday Fraser Munro), where it now continues its work in the heart of the North East’s premier health campus.

The building sits adjacent to both the Institute of Medical Sciences and the Suttie Centre, to the north of the campus. All three buildings have their own character, and all have been built within the last decade. This demonstrates Aberdeen’s commitment to continue to be a world leader in medical research.

The Rowett building itself appears to be, at its most basic, a rectangular cuboid with a twist! The main structure is clad with an intricate exoskeleton of vertical and horizontal beams, as can be seen in the image above.

An interesting footnote:

The institute was originally concerned with issues surrounding malnutrition. In modern times there is a much greater emphasis on the overconsumption of food! How times have changed!

More information on the institute’s fascinating research, and how to volunteer to be included in one of their studies, can be found here.

Take a Seat…

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Warning: unsuitable for those with piles

Located near the entrance to the old Scott Sutherland School of Architecture at The Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, this concrete armchair is presented in the style of Le Corbusier’s LC2 chair: a classic design which has been often copied.

I really love the weathered texture and the leaves growing from the seat “cushion” in this example.

The School has now relocated to a brand new facility within the Sir Duncan Rice Building, a little further east on the campus along the banks of the river Dee, and is certainly worth visiting.

I’m looking forward to the end of year show in June. Details available here. The event will showcase the work of the degree and masters graduates, and will be fascinatingly insightful – I’m certain of that.

In the meantime, I might just take a seat and wait…