Students unveil new vision for Aberdeen city centre

Architecture students at Robert Gordon University (RGU) will unveil their vision for a new main pedestrian route through Aberdeen city centre, as part of their end of year show.

Denburn Masterplan 2015The route, which the final year students developed as part of a two-year project, would run from north to south, starting at the Denburn and running to the city’s waterfront via Union Terrace Gardens and The Green.

Offered as an alternative to the east to west traverse of Union Street, the route follows the natural flow of the Denburn Valley and would see a renewed use of the lower level of Aberdeen as in medieval times.

The students have developed individual projects to augment the route, which include new densification housing projects, the replacement of the Trinity Shopping Centre with a food hall and market space for fresh produce, a new vision of the plan to place an arts centre in Union Terrace Gardens and the development of The Green.

Student Rachael Murray (22) said: “The main idea of the masterplan that we’ve developed was about reconnecting the different levels of the city and allowing certain outdoor spaces that exist in Aberdeen to become more visible again.

“We want to open up the space for pedestrians so that there is a clear route from one end of the city to the other and to make better use of the area.

“Our ideas have been spurred on by the current city master planning process that is happening and with which we’ve engaged and contributed to - it has been interesting to see those proposals coming forward while we’ve been creating our own.”

Sabin Maguregui (23) said: “We’ve looked at what the city is like at the moment. Union Street traditionally provides a main east to west connection but with Union Square and the Trinity and Bon Accord Centres, the city runs off a north to south connection now and what we’ve looked to do is to create a clear pedestrian route which follows that connection.”

UTG 2015 plans - Fajar RezandiRachael’s individual project looked at establishing a food hall and market space where the Trinity Centre currently exists.

She said: “The various functions within the building will allow for a lively atmosphere throughout the day, to encourage the public to use the building at any hour of the day as a connection through the city.”

Sabin’s project looks to add quality housing into the city centre area, between The Green and the students’ proposed pedestrian area.

He said: “My project explores how different types of dwelling units can be accommodated into an urban housing block, from one to four bedroom apartments, multi-level duplex apartments and studio flats.

“In addition, it strives to encourage a sense of community by providing opportunities for social interaction between residents through communal spaces.”

Fajar Rezandi (25) decided to focus his attention on Union Terrace Gardens and how to connect the two different levels via the introduction of a new arts centre.

“The main idea of to create an underground space which connects the Rosemount and Union Terrace level down to Union Terrace Gardens through a semi underground art centre space,” he explained.

“It would provide a new landmark as the point of entrance on the higher level, allowing the public to easily access both the building and the gardens.”

L-R Sabin Maguregui and Rachael Murray with a model of the masterplanProfessor Gokay Deveci led the project and said: “The architect Alexander Marshall Mackenzie who designed the Aberdeen Art Gallery argued passionately ‘that the Denburn Valley is the only natural feature in Aberdeen. It is important that it should be kept as an open space with its present appearance.’ 

“The Denburn regeneration project is all about interactive circulation through emotional, physical, social and natural connections. It looks at an alternative route to Union Street and explores the forgotten layer of the medieval city centre.

“To understand and appreciate the city, we need to understand the different levels – the old medieval level and the new, contemporary level which is Union Street.

“The students have investigated how to connect the two levels with a range of very interesting and provoking projects which I am very proud to show and discuss with the city’s planners and residents.”

The work will be on display at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment between June 18 and 24, as part of the End of Year Show. 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