A Close Community
Craig MacKenzie 2020
Aberdeen is a city with an unclear future. With sustained decline of the oil industry, the social and economic attitudes of the city are changing, and it is realising it needs to prepare sustainable plans for a post oil future. Alongside this, the city’s population is expected to grow meaning new employment opportunities and affordable housing will be essential to Aberdeen’s progression.
The Living Edge masterplan had a strong focus on people, as the location for the masterplan was home to some of Aberdeen’s most deprived areas, so improving their quality of life was paramount. This high-density urban housing scheme looks to address this issue by enhancing social elements and interaction between different user groups to create functional spaces and communities, helping to improve Aberdeen’s civic vision. To create denser living conditions, proximity of buildings throughout the scheme are pushed to the extreme, creating a series of lanes and private courtyards.
These spaces provide shelter from the harsh North Sea wind but serve as more important social aspects. People are compressed in short, tight lanes, increasing the chances of interaction as you pass by others. Windows are angled to not directly face onto another building which helps with privacy issues whilst also improving the quality of living within the apartments by giving views down the lanes, providing a different form of social connection. Courtyard spaces can be adapted to become more public by hosting markets and other events. The streets get energy and vibrancy from the people that live there as they add personal touches; they are manipulated by proximal living which helps create diverse spaces and places. Arcades and passageways make visual links from more private sheltered spaces to the streets beyond, providing some relief to the narrow lanes.
The project is an attempt to show what Aberdeen could look like if it adopted a greater level of density within its housing model by challenging guidelines and pushing them in a way beyond the standard thinking of separation and distance. With the world population increasing, more people are going to be living in our cities, so by increasing proximity and density, we can make our cities richer and more sociable, with more people living in them.