How do we make Aberdeen a ‘cool’ place to live, study or visit?

HOW many cities of the world do you have on your ‘favourite places’ list and, more importantly, can you pinpoint exactly what it is that makes them so appealing?

A panel of Time Out experts ranked 75 locations according to six criteria: architecture, arts & culture, buzz, food & drink, quality of life and world status. It is little surprise that New York tops the list, followed by London, Paris and Berlin but – and stick with me here – what would happen if we were to measure Aberdeen by the same yardstick?

Unlike the celebrated beauty of many other cities, the buildings in Aberdeen seem to be a constant surprise to visitors who often have no idea they are coming to a place where architectural wonders are around just about every corner. From the stunning façade of Marischal College to St Machar Cathedral, the Town House, the Sir Duncan Rice Library and more castles across the Shire than you can shake a stick at, we cover the spectrum from the 16th century to modern day.

We are already Scotland’s capital for food and drink production, regularly feature at the top of quality of life surveys and, in addition to an established arts & culture scene boasting Nuart, comedy and jazz festivals among others, have upwards of £42million of investment going into Aberdeen Art Gallery, the Music Hall transformation and the Mither Kirk Open Space project.

We are also known around the globe for our science and energy credentials which must, at the very least, be worthy of a few World Status points.

Does it therefore come down to that most intangible of things: ‘buzz’?

The chances are that favourite destinations are special to lots of different people for lots of different reasons. In an attempt to find out what Aberdonians think might up the North-east’s cool factor I carried out a highly unscientific straw poll and the results were just as varied, with everything from a scrub and brush up of the buildings on Union Street to more evening cultural events, independent shops and enhanced café culture among the asks. While the responses varied, almost everyone had some ideas they felt could be part of the solution.

This thorny question forms the basis for one of the business cases a team of volunteers have been working to develop as part of the Vanguard Legacy initiative which aims to have a direct positive impact on Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire over the next two to five years, building on the momentum and finding new ways of thinking and acting to ensure we become a renaissance region, not a museum to what was once Europe’s oil and gas capital.

All eight groups will present their game-changing ideas to an audience of senior business leaders, politicians and investors at a conference in Aberdeen on December 5.

You might not like the word ‘cool’ but the meaning at the heart of this question is clear so try not to get too hung up on the terminology. Instead, agree that the time for energy, passion and fresh thinking is now. Be part of the solution and play a part in helping to make this an even better place to live, work, study, visit, invest and do business.