RGU Architecture students unveil vision for future of Peterhead

Final year Architecture students at Robert Gordon University (RGU) have unveiled a huge 3D model of Peterhead which showcases their dramatic regeneration ideas for the future of the north-east town.

Centering on the key aim of reconnecting the harbour with the town centre, the students’ ideas include stopping the sprawl of housing developments outwith the town, relocating the headquarters of Aberdeenshire Council to a prominent position within Peterhead and opening the harbour area up to a wider range of social and cultural activities.

The students created the model as the second part of a two-year ‘Resilient Towns’ unit, which will take centre stage in the End of Year Show at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment.

Each individual student has designed detailed developments aimed at addressing specific areas of need within the town.

Among the ambitious ideas are proposals for a renewable energy research centre drawing on Peterhead’s involvement in the sustainable energy corridor development, Energetica; a maritime cultural centre at the harbour to celebrate the town’s boat building traditions; the re-introduction of a distillery to the town; and the establishment of a seafood focused marketplace, cookery school and restaurant.

As part of his project Andrew Stewart (23), has looked at how to challenge the perception that suburban living is superior to living in the town centre, by creating a modern take on traditional fishing cottages based at the harbour.

He said: “Peterhead has experienced decades of residential development that has got progressively further from the town centre. This has seen generic communities created on the periphery of the town that has left the centre detrimentally neglected.

“I have tried to re-interpret the density of traditional fishing cottages located throughout the north-east in a way that is appropriate for a waterfront housing development in the 21st century.

“These would be mixed use properties, with the potential for work/live townhouses or executive flats that offer generous living spaces flooded with natural light, creating an environment that people want to live in and that are capable of meeting the needs of modern living.”

Niall Watson (23), meanwhile, has examined how adaptive reuse of an existing site, structure or building could help breathe new life into the town.

He explained: “It is clear that Peterhead has been affected by the economic climate, as have other towns throughout the north-east. There is currently an obvious reliance on its fishing and oil industries, with the activity centered around the harbour area, but looking ahead to the future, how will Peterhead adapt to survive?

“I’ve chosen to relocate Aberdeenshire Council headquarters to an existing building on the edge of the industrial harbour of Peterhead, so it is in keeping with the feel of the area. I felt it was appropriate that the local authority’s headquarters be based within the area it represents rather than Aberdeen City and this would help to broaden the range of activity at the harbour area. Where better than Aberdeenshire’s largest town?”

Kadum Mahboba (23) has come up with the idea of creating a maritime cultural centre to make the harbour seem more accessible to the public.

“The harbour is often perceived as being a rundown place, with the industrial units seeming not to visually permit the public to go and explore, despite it being an open harbour,” he said.

“The maritime cultural centre aims to bring to light the ancient Nordic traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation among the fishermen of Peterhead, a culture and tradition that has since been in decline or in some instances lost.

“The centre will create the opportunity for Peterhead to become a town capable of hosing a wealth of cultural events that celebrate the traditions that exist within coastal fishing towns and further across the North Sea.”

The regeneration project has been led by Professor Gokay Deveci, who said: “Architecture is all about starting a debate and I think the students have done a great job coming up with ideas that will challenge people’s perceptions of Peterhead and which have examined the potential options for regeneration in depth.”

The students’ work will be on display as part of the school’s End of Year show, which runs from Saturday, June 21 to Saturday, June 28 at the Scott Sutherland School. It includes a range of projects by students in stages one to six of the Degree and Masters courses.

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Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology