The culmination of three years’ work by talented Architecture students at Robert Gordon University (RGU) to reimagine waterfront areas in Aberdeen and Orkney will be virtually exhibited in a collaboration with Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums (AAGM) and Pier Arts Centre in Orkney.

The exhibition, ‘Drawn North’, has been curated by a small group of recent graduates and goes live on the AAGM and Pier Arts Centre websites from Friday, July 17. Visitors will have access to a wide range of projects, from social housing and leisure amenities, to cultural hubs and education and research facilities, all situated within wider master plan proposals.

The work seeks to reinforce a sense of place through the enhancement of community and economic sustainability, all underpinned by notions of social and ethical responsibility in relation to pressing challenges such as climate change.

The highly creative, detailed, and research-informed work, focuses on making significant improvements to Aberdeen’s waterfront, including the harbour, beachfront, and links, with a view to enhancing city living through a range of community facilities and public amenities.

The second section looks at the opportunity within the Orkney islands for economic and social development in the context of an incredibly rich, sensitive, and globally important archaeological and cultural heritage.

Professor David McClean, head of the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment at RGU, commented: “Following the autumn re-opening of Aberdeen Art Gallery, extended and transformed, the School submitted an application to hold an exhibition of the students’ work this summer.

“The reimagined Gallery has reinvigorated discussion about the city’s architecture and development, and this, along with the under-representation of the discipline within the city’s cultural programme, provided the conditions for the idea to quickly develop.

“However, ironically, it is perhaps the lockdown and the closure of the physical gallery that allowed the idea to develop with such immediacy in a virtual form. A strong collaborative partnership was quickly built with the Gallery, and this was soon extended to include Orkney’s Pier Arts Centre.

“While the exhibition and the projects on show are hypothetical and ambitious in nature, they propose ideas that, with vision, are entirely achievable. As a result, they are deserving of a public audience to stimulate thinking and promote constructive debate.”

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s spokesperson for culture, said: “The past months of lockdown have presented unprecedented challenges for us all. One of the positive outcomes has been the importance our cultural organisations are placing on digital activity while we cannot physically access buildings and exhibitions.

“This collaboration between the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment at RGU, Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums and the Pier Arts Centre, with input from Aberdeen City and Shire Archives, is an excellent example of how people can come together in a virtual space to reach new audiences for architecture.

“We are very proud that the transformation of Aberdeen Art has been a catalyst for debate around the importance of architecture to all our lives. Now more than ever, our world needs vision, imagination and creativity. ‘Drawn North’ is an excellent example of how architects at an early stage in their careers can help shape our future world.”

Pier Arts Centre curator, Andrew Parkinson, commented "We are all too familiar, in a way, with the buildings, streets, parks and public spaces that surround us and sometimes forget that an enormous amount of change and development has taken place to create the towns and cities that we know today.

“The role of designers, architects and artists is crucial in re-imagining what the future might look like and it's really great to see the work of the next generation of innovators graduating from Robert Gordon's University.

“The Pier Arts Centre in Stromness itself proudly connects the historic fabric of the town with much loved contemporary architecture and we are pleased to share this dynamic and thoughtful exhibition with folks in Orkney and well beyond."

Please visit www.aagm.co.uk/drawnnorth / www.pierartscentre.com, from Friday July 17, to explore the Drawn North virtual exhibition.