Aberdeen Society of Architects // Festival of Architecture 2016


The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) announced an ambitious, year-long, country-wide, celebration of Scotland’s architecture for 2016. The Festival of Architecture 2016 is supported by a number of key national organisations. The Scottish Government’s new policy statement on architecture and place for Scotland, Creating Places, launched on Monday 24th June, announced the Government’s support for the 2016 Festival.

The Aberdeen Society of Architects ran a series of events throughout April 2016 in order to lend their support and join in the celebrations. The program for the events in and around Aberdeen can be downloaded here, with more information on the main events below!

For news of the festival please follow @foa2016, @aberdeenSA, on Twitter or Facebook!

Event 1 – 5710 Architecture Lecture Series

A series of weekly inspirational talks by World leading Architects open to the public in partnership with the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture at the Robert Gordon University.


01/04/2016, 7pm, Schneider Türtscher


08/04/2016, 7pm, Pezo von Ellrichshausen


15/04/2016, 7pm, Brito.Rodriguez


22/04/2016, 7pm, Amin Taha


28/04/2016, 7pm, Assemble Studio & Simon Terrill


These lectures were free events, but due to anticipated popularity amongst the public, local architects and architecture students, were ticketed through eventbrite.

All of the architects were given rave reviews by those who attended, particularly Pezo von Ellrichhausen (hero’s to current Scott Sutherland Architecture students) & Simon Terrill of Assemble Studio (winners of the 2016 Turner Prize).


Event 2 – Mirrored Pavilion

The pavilion, a dual purpose as an information/meeting point (hub) and Festival venue, was designed by a second year architectural student at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, Lucy Fisher who continues to be involved as the pavilion develops from design to construction. This event has been organised in partnership with the Look Again Visual Art and Design Festival, the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen City Council, and the Balmoral Group.

The pop-up temporary mirrored pavilion was located in the historic Castlegate throughout April and May 2016.  The pavilion signified and hosted the launch the Festival of Architecture 2016 in the Aberdeen Chapter and was a focal point for the festival. The pavilion was designed to attract attention, become a talking point, and reflect it’s historic context. The aim of it’s designer being to encourage members of the public to ‘look again’  at the city’s architecture.  The pavilion certainly did that.  The public were intrigued by this mysterious ‘mirrored box’ which had seemingly appeared all of a sudden in the heart of their city.

Inside the pavilion the public were encouraged to engage with architecture.  Children (and adults) were asked to construct their favourite buildings out of lego; vote for their favourite buildings by drawing them from memory; colour the cities landmarks on a mural designed and supplied by The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture; help design a new city from scratch through an interactive game created by the ASA specifically for the Festival of Architecture 2016; and get their camera-phone out and Focus on Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire through an Instagram photography competition using the hashtags #FocusOnAberdeen & #FocusOn Aberdeenshire.  To close the pavilion the ASA hosted an architectural ‘Cake Off’, which had some awesome entries!  Check out our facebook page to see some of these.

For the time that the pavilion was located in the Castlegate is became the most photographed object in Aberdeen.  Check it out on Instagram


Event 3 – Design Matters

The ASA, icecream Architecture & The Robert Gordon University, engaged with local schools in order to develop resource material for the Design element of the curriculum for excellence.  Engagement with the schools focused on 14-16 year old pupils at 2 schools within Aberdeen city.  The two schools, Northfield Academy and Kincorth Academy, were selected by Aberdeen City Council.

Workshops took place within the schools in January 2016 where resource material prepared by icecream architecture was tested & developed.

Icecream architecture, along with the ASA and Aberdeen City Council, further developed the resource material following these workshops.

The finalised resource were presented to Art & Design teachers in Aberdeen through a CPD evening workshop.  The resource material was received with great acclaim.  It is hoped that the resource material will now be used throughout the city as well as in schools throughout the Aberdeenshire area.  An interest has also been expressed to utilise the resource in Moray.  It is hoped that the resources could be shared throughout Scotland as they are available freely as electronic files for teachers to download and use.

It is hoped that this resource will leave a legacy of the Festival of Architecture 2016, enabling better and more focused teaching of Design within the curriculum for excellence.


Event 4 – A Model City

As part of the Festival of Architecture in Aberdeen the ASA developed an interactive ‘game’ in which participants create a new city in model form, generating discourse regarding the nature of places within an urban context.

While people in Aberdeen are highly engaged with their environment and the affect of development on it, generally speaking public involvement is characterised by a reactive response rather than proactive engagement.

The purpose of the event was to give people the opportunity to think creatively about what form their ‘ideal’ city would take. Through short workshops, or throughout a whole day, groups and individual people created a model of their ‘ideal’ city. The ‘game’ board consisted of a landscape onto which people placed pieces – the buildings themselves. Each model was recorded on an overhead go-pro camera fixed to the ceiling, allowing the results to be compared and perhaps analysed to see if there were any issues which could be identified as important to people.

The intention was that people of all ages and disciplines would engage with issues surrounding the built environment, gaining a deeper understanding of how cities develop and the relationship between building and space in an urban context.

The ‘game’ was located within the Mirrored Pavilion, in the busy historic heart of the city.  People were immediately engaged by the mirrored box itself and therefore open to positively engaging in our urban design game.

The game board and pieces were fabricated by Donald Smith Model Makers in Inverurie.  Dice were provided for the game by the lovely people at the Grosvenor Casino.  The camera and recording equipment were kindly provided by Max and Co.


Event 5 – Aberdeen Evolving City Walks + Talks + Workshops

The ASA organised and hosted a series of talks, walks, and workshops in partnership with Scotland’s Urban Past team within Historic Environment Scotland, the University of Aberdeen, and Aberdeen Women’s Alliance exploring the social history of Aberdeen, it’s development from a fishing port, and the impact of granite on the city’s development.


The ASA also teamed up with Hidden Aberdeen tours to give tours highlighted specific areas of architectural significance within the city.



Event 6 – Fringe Shows 

A mini-architectural film festival saw a series of film screenings throughout April 2016 in the Belmont Film House, Aberdeen.  The films focused on Architecture, Innovation, and Design. Tickets were free as part of the Festival of Architecture 2016 and all of the screenings, except one, were ‘sold out’.


EAMES  – The Architect & The Painter – Jason Cohn, Bill Jersey (2011)
“Much like the creations of its subjects, ‘Eames’ is itself a dazzling, sensory adventure” and that “the film is an extraordinary and enjoyable history of how two people influenced so much of our thinking and surroundings today.”
Tom Keogh, Seattle Times

“The husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames were America’s most infl uential and important industrial designers. Admired for their creations and fascinating as individuals, they have risen to iconic status in American culture. ‘Eames: The Architect & The Painter’ draws from a treasure trove of archival material, as well as new interviews with friends, colleague, and experts to capture the personal story of Charles and Ray while placing them fi rmly in the context of their fascinating times.”
Anonymous, IMBD

Helvetica – Gary Hustwit (2007)
“The real achievement of the film is the way it sharpens your eye in general and makes connections between form and content, and between art and life.”
Chicago Tribune

“A feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which celebrated its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type.”

Metropolis – Fritz Lang (1927)
“Lang tells of a towering city of the future. Above ground, it has spires and towers, elevated highways, an Olympian stadium and Pleasure Gardens. Below the surface is a workers’ city where the clocks show 10 hours to squeeze out more work time, the workers live in tenement housing and work consists of unrelenting service to a machine. Lang created on of the unforgettable original places in the cinema. Metropolis fixed for countless later films the image of a futuristic city as a hell of material progress and human despair. From this film, in various ways, descended not only Dark City but Blade Runner, Fifth Element, Escape From LA, Gattaca and Batman’s Gotham City.”
Roger Ebert 2010

Beyond the Haar – Mark Bremner (2012)
The film was introduced by the director Mark Bremner, a visual artist and filmmaker.  Beyond the Haar is a film which examines the history, perception and changing skyline of Aberdeen in recent years. It has been described as a visual poem and lyrical documentary, which implies an artistic beauty.  The film has also been described as a eulogy to the city of Aberdeen, which in turn hints at the same sombre connotations of the haar (a north east Scotland sea mist) mentioned in the title.  The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Amsterdam Film Festival.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in bringing the Festival of Architecture to Aberdeen!
You know who you are! #foa2016abz

If you want to know more about Scotland’s national Festival of Architecture 2016 have a look at their facebook page or contact the RIAS.

If you want to know more about the events held in and around Aberdeen please have a look at the dedicated facebook page.

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