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.

St. Andrew Street Building

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The Imposing Main Entrance

The St. Andrew Street building of the Robert Gordon University (RGU), as it was known, was constructed from granite in around 1908, and is centrally placed within Aberdeen in the Woolmanhill area of the city.

The building is trapezoidal in shape and occupies a whole city block. The main entrance is situated in the centre of the south face on St. Andrew Street (hence the name). However, there are secondary entrances on the remaining elevations of the premises.

The site contains a central courtyard which was, over time, developed into a car park, library and a hall. Vehicular access is via two pends on the north face.

The building has lain unused since the university relocated to the Garthdee site, and was sold to the Sandman Hotel Group in 2014 for development into a four star hotel. As of October 2016, this renovation appears to be underway, with scaffolding cladding the west elevation. Unfortunately, the demand in the city for additional hotel space seems particularly weak a present as a result of the current decline in the oil industry.

The St. Andrew Street premises was home to the Aberdeen College of Education until the 1960s. Latterly, it housed the RGU schools of sciences and computing.

It has been said that the various elevations of the building display varying architectural merits: the south being the most significant. It is certainly the most inspiring to view in my opinion.

The image above shows the area immediately above the south entrance on St. Andrew Street: the view most building users would have been greeted by upon approach.

I have a personal connection to the building: I studied at RGU during the 1990s, and spend many hours within the library, lecture theatres and laboratories. I have very fond memories of the place. It was an establishment of learning, for sure. However, it was also somewhere to meet and socialise with fellow students.

I am glad that the building is not going to be razed, but instead repurposed: it would be a tremendous shame to lose such a large and significant granite building from the city.

However, even as I write, the future of the city and her inhabitants hangs in the balance.

Perhaps it’s too early to know if the St. Andrew Street building will survive. Dark days may still come…

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.

Fog in the ‘Deen

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Fogger-deen

I took this mono image of the city from the Torry Battery whilst scouting a location for an upcoming photo shoot.

As I took-in the view, I noticed that the image captures a number of features of the city.

There are elements of the old: the intricate towers in the centre of the frame are Marischal College and the Citadel. To the left of these are the three cranes used in the construction of the new Marischal Square development – a project that has split the opinions of the city’s residents.

In the left of the foreground is Footdee (“Fittie”), a small fishing village based at the mouth of the river Dee. The large, imposing tower in Fittie is the Marine Operations Centre. Fishing and the sea are of great importance to the city.

The view is built-up in layers as a result of the light fog, which makes for a sense of depth.

 

Sofa, So Good

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Relax in style with Hitch Mylius

Continuing with the theme of seating, this image is taken from a series I captured in February 2016 as part of a shoot for a designer friend of mine. He was looking for some new portraits of himself for his website and we stumbled-upon this piece whilst scouting for a location.

Following a query from a follower on Instagram, I decided to take a further look into this beautifully simple sofa and found that it is a Hitch Mylius design.

Hitch Mylius has been producing quality furniture in London since the early 1970s, and has grown from strength to strength in the intervening years. A number of the original designs are still in production today, such is their iconic quality.

See Hitch Mylius’ website here for some awe-inspiring colours and sleek designs.

 

Present & Future

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Present & Future by Rosemary Beaton

This sculpture, designed by Rosemary Beaton, is located at the entrance to the Prime Four business park.

The male and female heads are constructed from laser cut metal, finished in the colour blue. The heads rest upon “waves” created from mounds of turfed grass.

The sculpture represents achievements and aspirations within industry, and the waves connect with Aberdeen’s sea history.

The sculpture was commissioned by Drum Property Group and was completed in 2014.

There is word that further sculptures will be created in the future as the business park expands.

I look forward to seeing them.