Aberdon’t – Marischal Square

This is to stop that awful development in Aberdeen going ahead.

The two buildings that strike most about Aberdeen are Provost Skene’s House and Marischal College.

The first is a free museum in a former mayoral residence (provost in Scotland) which is SHUT to allow this monstrous development round it, even though it’s not touched by it. Skene’s House is one of the best museums of its kind in the country, with plastered and painted ceilings and recreated rooms of different periods.

When I last came to Aberdeen, I was gutted that this turreted stone building was obscured by a dreadful office block which the Queen had to open. I hoped she’d soon be pushing the first swing of the wrecking ball.

The ball has done its work, but instead, something equally as grievous is planned in its place.

Opposite is the second largest granite edifice in the world, the most arresting landmark in Scotland’s third city, a sort of Houses of Parliament rival. It went from being the University’s second college to being leased to the city council – pictures of the interior changes have caused many squawks! There is a by appointment collection within that used to be a free museum.

I’d like to emphasise that I’m a visitor, not a local – we care too about Aberdeen and these special buildings.

The development is just what everyone else is getting – Edinburgh, Leeds, Cambridge… the dumpy new 1960s boxes, which will equally be regretted immediately and get worse with each decade.

The developer’s website is dreadful. It uses not even very buzzy buzz words. There’s nothing different, exciting, unique, quality about this mixed use site – it’s what you expect. Go on – try to name four things this might be. Yeah, you got them all. Not, there’s not anything cultural in there. Just a lump in the heart of a perhaps overlooked interesting city.

As a petition to reject this proposal said, it takes business away from the long established classical shopping street which views gardens and domes, churches and theatres. Yes, like its big sister below, Aberdeen has an old and new town, a one sided street overlooking the distinct skyline – Marischal college being the apogee. Like the capital in the lowlands, Aberdeen’s got several museums, a waterfront and shoreline, all built in a particular colour of stone – this one is light silver.

I felt that Aberdeen was missing something last time I was there. It wasn’t this.

I found several thousand supporters who feel the same, and the matter regularly features in local press.

Why are developers Muse allowed to go ahead, presumably putting profit before the wishes of the people and what the city needs?

There is much anger and backlash about this, and belief that illegal and unfair practices have been involved. The claims over bankrupting the city if it were stopped are manipulation.

Why should Aberdeen have this enforced on the – or Edinburgh the new St James, which equally upsets me with its Ribbon at the heart? (And why can’t I find a campaign on that?)

Muse may think that this creates a monumental lasting testament to themselves, but Muse will just be the shameful name of who spoiled a city. Or tried to.

I support those who say the building should cease and something that is more popular and suitable is put forward instead, which doesn’t obscure these buildings or desecrate the heart of the city.

I’d like Aberdeen to have more independent, special shops and cafes, more arts – not more of the usual chains, something akin tot he atmosphere of Belmont Street – and that will never look like Muse’s vision.


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Filed under society, travel writing

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