This term we’re working with Aberdeen Inspired to explore four challenges around the city centre and how we might make the city a better place. These are:
- Smart, deliverable solutions to fill our empty spaces – this is one of the biggest issues in the city centre, not just the upper floor empty/abandoned spaces, but also vacant ground floor units.
- Innovative strategy/proposal/solution to support the most vulnerable city centre users (focus on the night time, but not necessarily exclusively) – street begging, homeless people, inebriated revellers.
- What’s the next big thing for Aberdeen City Centre – events/festival legacy, better animation, vibrancy or regeneration.
- Delivering better public realm for all users.
The students started off with a good discussion of the ones that interested them, and proceeded to identify many opportunities for potential work in these areas. It’ll be interesting to see how they develop oner the coming six weeks.
This term we’re using the ‘Drawing Room’ at Fifth Ring in Aberdeen as our ‘classroom’. This is a good change from the interesting, but not quite right space we had last term at Six Degrees North. At Fifth Ring we have a large blackboard, windows and the backs of storage units to use for post it notes and whatever. This is much more ‘designerly’.
We are also collaborating on the student challenges with Aberdeen Inspired, who’ve helped some teams in the past with information for the students. This time they will help set the challenges, and then guide the students with information. This will be interesting.
Today our students agreed on two of the Vanguard challenges from last week as their focus areas. We started, however, by going over the key themes of the 10×10 brief photos which students brought in from during the week.
These photos showed lots of architecture and green spaces in the city, which could be used for good, while also showing some bad design choices too, which caused problems. All of these fed into the ideas for the chosen challenges. It was also noted that none of the photos showed people, or events.
The challenges carried forward were:
- How do we make Aberdeen a ‘cool’ place for residents, students and visitors?
- What will it take to make the people of the area fall back in love with Union Street?
From this three teams focused on aspects of the first idea about ‘cool Aberdeen’, while one team explored ideas around improving Union Street. These challenges each team decided to use were:
- How might we improve making Union Street into a more desirable place, by creating spaces for activities for all, with good lighting and easy access points?
- How might we use renewable lighting to encourage community engagement, while promoting Aberdeen’s reputation a a progressive thinking city?
- How might we transform an area into a thriving social zone with art, street food and music, where students and residents can mix?
- How might we create a ‘living room’ for student societies of both universities to offer public events and entertainment?
These will be interesting projects to encourage and develop over the term, and to see how they mix and mingle themselves given they overlap and feed on one another to some extent.