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.