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Aberdeen Commuter Station

Part 1 Project 2009
Jonathan Mennie
Robert Gordon University, UK
Aberdeen Commuter Station

First impressions always count, and the arrival into a city is no exception. Many modern train stations have become almost faceless, favouring steel and concrete with little regard to what makes an area unique. Corporate identity takes over from what was once a celebration of arrival and a sense of occasion in ones journey.

Rail services in the city of Aberdeen and suburbs are currently underused and undervalued, despite having a direct link to the heart of the city. A new initiative from NESTRANS is pushing for the Aberdeen through line to be redeveloped, with new stations being built in outlying towns.

As part of this initiative, a new central station is proposed to be built at the edge of Union Terrace Gardens, a city centre garden that links directly to the main commercial and retail hub of Union Street. It is to act as a commuter station, and also to service the rail link from Dyce Airport, and should give a positive and dramatic arrival to the city.

The proposal is an integration of existing but forgotten elements of the site – granite walls, turntable pit, steel girder, brick vaults – with a new build, having the effect of an archaeological exploration of the city’s intriguing past. Commuters travel from lower levels up to the main thoroughfare of Union Street, while interacting with elements of Aberdeen’s history, allowing a strong, unique sense of identity to the station and city, and re-interpreting the past feeling of occasion in travel.

A clear vertical access strategy of intersecting elevators allow for a quick transition from Union Street level to the station platform – a level change of over 13 meters. The roof of the building will act as a new public plaza linked to the gardens, thus allowing opportunity for public usage and events in an area of the gardens that is presently neglected.

The scheme seeks to accentuate and celebrate the features and character of the site in response to the threat currently posed to the Gardens by local developers.

Jonathan Mennie

The second project in year 3, explores the idea of de-materialising the object of architecture, the building itself, dissolving it into a public civic realm. As the building abandons boundaries, territories become blurred. This project is linked to an old relationship the school has with the Council of Aberdeen, and a prestigious Civic Medal Prize is awarded to the winning student. This year they were asked to explore a passenger railway station in difficult and contentious site in the centre of Aberdeen, Union Terrace Gardens.


Mr Iain Ramsay
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