Urban regeneration of Aberdeen addressed by student architects in public exhibition

Students from Robert Gordon University’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment will display a selection of student work addressing 21st century planning and design in a public exhibition in Aberdeen city centre. 

End of Year Show - Seaton ProjectStudents from stages one to six have occupied a previously disused space on the city’s Belmont Street to host their annual End of Year Show entitled ‘spAce’. The location was unlocked by somewhereto_, an olympic-inspired project that helps young people find the space they need to do the things they love in arts culture and sport and has been sponsored by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

The exhibition includes projects investigating the urban regeneration of Seaton and Union Street and explores the students’ interpretation of space through a range of models, drawings and performative pieces. Encapsulating some of the well-known areas of Aberdeen and beyond, the exhibition journey ventures through the abandoned, populated and imagined spaces in which we live.

The projects for the Seaton and Pittodrie areas respond to social issues which have arisen over the years such as unemployment, crime and a lack of community facilities for residents.

Stage 5 student, Steven Lockhart (23) from Garthdee, has proposed a masterplan to revive the existing unused green spaces in Seaton. The project provides productive landscapes for residents within the community to grow their own fruit and vegetables which would create a fun activity and help to keep food locally sourced.

He explains: “A major issue involved in the built environment in the 21st century is how to sustainably use space that positively affects the population without polluting the environment.

“We took this principal and applied it at a local level within Aberdeen – suggesting a solution that would benefit the community of Seaton and not harm its natural spaces. Communal leisure space is a vital social aspect of communities and green spaces are often forgotten and unused.”

Fellow student Amy Holmes (23) from Fonthill Terrace has also concentrated on the Seaton area. Her idea for a community-run refuse centre aims to tackle the rising issues of illegal dumping.

She adds: “I wanted to provide local residents with a commercial opportunity that would also address social problems. In looking at Seaton and Pittodrie, we wanted to contribute to the regeneration and future vitality of these areas.

“For Pittodrie in particular, we proposed to redefine the site of the old football stadium as an ‘arts and culture’ entertainment hub to entice people back to the site.”

Órla Daly (27) originally from Ireland, a Stage 5 Master of Architecture student, has proposed a design which aims to breathe new life into Union Street – rescuing the ailing high street and bringing back a defined city centre to Aberdeen.

She explains: “Our project has addressed the challenge of creating designs that sit well within the existing historical street façade, whilst learning from the mistakes of modern interventions which often contribute little to the streetscape.

“I explored developing the Music Hall block. Two historical buildings were demolished in the 1960s and replaced with a low-rise concrete building which negatively effects the street elevation. We propose to bring more cultural elements to the area by creating a social arts building within the Hall’s complex.”

The students have been hard at work over the past two months renovating 7 Belmont Street, a previously unused space which once housed the Cheval Gentlemans Club and later a store for a jeweller. The students have reclaimed the space as their own, creating their own interventions and alterations.

The exhibition has been made possible through the support of ‘somewhereto_’ a Legacy Trust UK funded project that helps young people who don’t have a venue for their activities by opening up spaces and connecting young people with local space-holders.

Sarah Frood, a Scott Sutherland Alumni and Regional Co-ordinator for somewhereto_ said: “The students’ initiative to work with somewhereto_ and to search out such an innovative solution to their need for space is testament to their enterprising spirit.” 

Lecturer, Gillian Wishart, adds: “The End of Year Show comprises fragments of the students’ journey showing the internal workings of the architectural process. By taking key design issues and applying them at a local and national level, the work on show reflects the talent and imagination of our students.”

The End of Year Show, ‘spAce’, was launched at a special opening event on Thursday 10 May and is open to the public at 7 Belmont Street from 12-5pm until 16 May. A further exhibition of detailed projects will run at the Scott Sutherland School, Garthdee Road from 18 May – 8 June from 12-5pm Monday to Friday and 12-4pm at weekends.

Notes to Editors:

Interviews and photographs of the students and their work can be arranged on request – please direct enquiries to Sarah Grieve (details below).

somewhereto_ (

  • Inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, somewhereto_ is a nationwide project to help young people find the space they need to do the things they love, within sport, culture and the arts.
  • All young people need somewhereto_ do the things they love.  The project is here to help those who don’t have the space or place.  By opening up spaces and connecting young people with local space-holders, via our website, regional coordinators, competitions, events and more.
  • somewhereto_ is run by Livity, a youth engagement agency, in media partnership with Channel 4 Education and funded by Legacy Trust UK.

Legacy Trust UK

  • Legacy Trust UK is an independent charity set up to create a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from London 2012 in communities across the UK.
  • The Trust is funded by a £40 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund (£29m), Department for Culture Media and Sport (£6m) and Arts Council England (£5m), and is a Principal Funder of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.

Livity (

  • Livity is a youth engagement agency that mentors young people from a broad range of backgrounds to co-create campaigns, content and communities for brands, government, charities and broadcasters – benefiting businesses, individuals and society.

About Channel 4 Education

  • Channel 4 Education commissions for 14-19s and their life-skill needs.
  • Programmes and projects, which aim to make the audience think about themselves and the world around them, in ways that are enlightening and thought provoking, essentially content that will help teens survive the next five years using subjects like fashion and music as way into issues which are difficult to talk about or understand.

Icecream architecture

  • Icecream architecture was established by Desmond Bernie and Sarah Frood in 2009
  • Both are alumni of Scott Sutherland School of Architecture
  • Have been successfully delivering approachable architecture across Scotland.
  • Icecream architecture was appointed somewhereto_ regional coordinator in December 2011

Sarah Grieve
Communications Officer
Robert Gordon University
AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262206