Students’ ‘smart’ idea brings state-of-the-art benches to Aberdeen city centre

Students from Robert Gordon University (RGU) and the University of Aberdeen have collaborated on a project which will install smart benches in the city centre.

Soofa BenchThe solar-powered ‘Soofa’ benches provide local residents with mobile and laptop charging points, as well as being able to monitor the environment.

The idea was the winning project as part of CityLab, a 10-week collaborative project which offers students the chance to develop their skills with the support of mentors from Aberdeen City Council.

The students’ idea for the benches revolved around the safety of young people late at night, if they become separated from friends and their phones are out of charge.

CityLab, which is led by the council’s transformation and innovation officer, Zoe Evans, was inspired by a similar scheme in Vancouver and aims to create a path for students to gain live client experience in the working world while helping to create sustainable projects to develop a better city and community.

This year the project will focus around the city’s Vanguard initiative, which seeks to re-invent and re-imagine the future economy of North-east Scotland City and Shire.

Jon Pengelly, Head of Postgraduate Studies at Gray’s School of Art, coordinates the project for RGU.  

“The aim of CityLab is to transform and innovate Aberdeen by initiating and supporting student-led solutions for citywide change.

“The collaboration of students from all different subject areas, backgrounds and locations makes for a hugely interesting project and we look forward to seeing the latest cohort’s ideas.

“The project is indebted to the ongoing support from Aberdeen City Council and a wide range of stakeholders from across the city who are able to help mentor the students groups towards developing and delivering there innovative business ideas.”

Councillor Ross Grant added: “CityLab is about using the city as a classroom where young people can help make Aberdeen a better city.

“The programme allows the students to focus on city challenges and create tangible and innovative solutions through user-centred design principles and the expert knowledge of key stakeholders from public, private or third party organisations.

"The aim is that each winning project could be carried forward by the city council, or by an interested city partner. The standard has been excellent and we are delighted to see the winning projects being rolled out across the city.”


Release by Rob Smith
Communications Officer
Press and Media Enquiries