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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Part 2 Project 2012
Scott Doig
Robert Gordon University, UK
The project seeks to explore the social and economic divide found in two neighbourhoods to the north of Aberdeen’s city centre. Hemmed in by the physical barriers of the River Don and shore of the North Sea, the two areas, Old Aberdeen and Seaton, were found to be conjoined in terms of location but with little interaction between the two. Indeed, further study of the two neighbourhoods found them to represent opposite ends of the social spectrum of the city: To the west lies historic Old Aberdeen with its university campus, affluent and gentrified. While to the east, Seaton’s 1970’s social housing schemes are the scene of poverty and the social problems brought with despair. This division is made worse by the busy road that runs North between the two areas.

My proposition is to create a series of interventions that would attempt to connect the two disparate parts of the city by spanning between them with an unofficial thread of landscape. The idea for the unsanctioned manner of this urban intervention came from reflecting on the former Soviet town of Pripyat. Located next to the now defunct Chernobyl power station, the once pristine show-town of the USSR has been abandoned by humans since the nuclear disaster of 1986. The result is the once stark Soviet era Modernist buildings have been consumed by the surrounding forest and inhabited by animals. A visual tension is created between architecture, man’s indelible mark and nature which seeks to undo those abstract inventions. The resulting landscape is something poignant, something very beautiful. My interventions too sought to explore nature’s capacity to invade and infiltrate an area, silently, bringing complexity and humanity with it.

Connecting and extending the existing pockets of hidden wilderness that have some foothold in these areas, the proposal tries to offer an alternative to a traditional urban redevelopment approach of cobbled streets and nostalgic form making. The proposal taps into the idea that nature is the great leveller and can offer some parity to society. The proposal believes that the transformative effect of this natural reclamation can help unify and invigorate these neighbourhoods.

Scott Doig

Professor Neil Gillespie
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