Greyhope Bay breaks ground

Greyhope Bay has started the building phase of project that will eventually see a dolphin viewing centre, a cafe and new education and community space for Aberdeen. Breaking ground marks a milestone for the charity. It's culmination of a 6-year journey from the original idea to construction. The build has received wide support through community-led fundraising.  

It's been a challenging road to get to this point. Because of difficulties in the construction industry and scarcity of materials, the project has suffered unexpected delays. However, thanks to the perseverance, resilience and strength of the community, Greyhope Bay is ready to take its next steps.



Project lead architect, Prof Gokay Deveci today said, “I am delighted to be the architect for the development that will bring new life to Torry Battery. This work reflects the role of architecture in nurturing and sustaining our communities that 'Yes, it can be done'. I am grateful to all team members helping us to deliver such a challenging and innovative project. It would have not possible without their teamwork, commitment, and dedication.”  

Greyhope Bay founder, Dr Fiona McIntyre added, "What we are about to witness is the outcome of countless hours of planning and many years of dreaming, leading to the achievement of this significant moment in which an historic place is altered by our purpose and ignited with new life.” 

An exciting future for Torry Battery

The project’s development will secure a bright new future for Torry Battery. That said, it will also reaffirm its position as a site of both environmental and historical significance. The new green-powered community space will create a spectacular vantage point. As a result visitors can take-in views of the city, coast, harbour and the many resident Bottlenose dolphins who regularly make an appearance. 

This milestone represents the beginning of a transition for Greyhope Bay. What was primarily a fundraising exercise now looks towards providing a vibrant new destination centre for the community and visitors. As a result, this new phase will see the charity deliver programming and events that connect the community to the local coast. This will happen from an off-grid and low impact container conversion which will use the latest in green technology. Because of this, they'll minimise its environmental footprint, including waste produced by the café. 

How can you support Greyhope Bay

There are many ways to continue to support Greyhope Bay as the organisation moves forward through the build phase and into opening doors as a charity with programming and events that serve to connect the community to our coast from a beautiful new home. 

If you're interested in helping Greyhope Bay, you can join as a Founder Crew member. Organisers are campaigning to sign up their first 1,000 members before doors open. You can join at the sign up page. For those that do, you'll receive an exclusive pin badge, five free coffees once open and a discount on events. 

If you are a local businesses or corporate, you can join as a Corporate Skipper or Admiral. Greyhope Bay will offer these members a staff team beach clean, coffee and cakes and a story tour. 


Aberdeen high-rise buildings | The selective regeneration of our city

We interviewed movie director Mark Stirton last month about his career and how he has coped with lockdown. Shortly after we published he told us that he had something important to share about Aberdeen high-rise buildings and asked if he could write for us on the subject.

While a number of Aberdeen high-rise buildings have been awarded category A listed status, their residents continue to suffer awful living conditions. Over to Mark.

The selective regeneration of Aberdeen by Mark Stirton 

Someone sitting in an air conditioned office somewhere has decided that Aberdeen high-rise buildings like Virginia Court and Marischal Court are in some way historically important. Presumably whoever made this decision at Historic Environment Scotland has never actually been inside these buildings. Certainly they have never had to live in one. So, let’s take a closer look at these historically important buildings shall we?

First
Impressions


The first thing you’ll notice upon arriving in the area is that every single paving stone is broken. Not just one or two, all of them. So already, without actually entering the buildings, you can clearly see that this area has not been maintained in any meaningful way in quite some time.

But things get so much worse when we enter Virginia Court. Lift or stairs? Let’s try the lift first and as the door shudders to a close I notice that someone has scrawled something inside; ‘Please fix this door before an OAP gets stuck’. Sound advice and I immediately wonder if the doors will ever open again.

Fine, let’s take the stairs.

The steps leading up to the main stairwell are an immediate cause for concern. The problem is not that the banisters have been removed, which would not be so bad, it’s that the banisters have been partially removed. Nasty sharp metal struts have been left still in place and pointing outwards at exactly eye level for a toddler. Smart.

‘Please fix this door before an OAP gets stuck’. Sound advice …

Aberdeen High-Rise | The Flats


The stairwells themselves are pretty gruesome, with nasty big chunks of wall missing all over the place. But then, no one lives in the stairwells. It’s the flats that are the real eye opener here in this most important of buildings.

Where to start? Electrical wires hang out of the wall as if repaired by someone wearing a blindfold. Plaster is falling off the roof in big chunks. I can see cracks all over the place with massive gaps between floors and walls.


These gaps are more than just unsightly since they allow local insects to infest the lower flats. Without the addition of many rolls of flypaper to at least moderate the influx of midges, these rooms would not be considered fit for human habitation. Especially when you consider the rats.

Also problematic is the difficulty in heating a room that’s surrounded by walls that don’t reach the floor. Having said that, the storage heaters here have been imported from the 60s and would only heat you up if you sat on one.

This may explain why there is dry rot everywhere. One woman I spoke to, who was moving out, cited this exact reason for her moving; the health of her children was suffering just by being here. Is that a mushroom growing out of the floorboards? Yes, you can grow mushrooms here.

Yup, I saw rats. I didn’t hang around to photograph them, but I saw them.

Communal space or lack of privacy?


Anyway, let’s take our lives in our hands and try the balconies. Now maybe it’s beyond the understanding of a simple film director like myself to comprehend why rust and missing bolts everywhere is a perfectly safe way to leave a balcony, but to use your eyes and your common sense? I didn’t linger.

Another issue with the balconies is that of privacy. You see, everyone gets a balcony. What you might not realise from the outside is that most rooms have access to the same communal balcony, including the bedrooms. So if you fancy a neighbour standing directly outside your bedroom door at night, you’re in luck. It’s an appalling design. One that points towards another dirty little secret of these buildings – they were never any good to begin with! Presumably the original 1950’s based theory was to allow for a sense of community. You know, talking to a neighbour on the balcony while discussing the merits of teabags or some such. In the less cosy reality of 2021 however, it just means someone can come along and pee outside your bedroom door at 4 in the morning.

So if you fancy a neighbour standing directly outside your bedroom door at night, you’re in luck.

Not that communicating directly with your neighbours is that big a problem since the uninsulated walls here are paper thin. It’s quite possible to have a conversation with next door without raising your voice.

Aberdeen high-rise | Walkways


Speaking of disasters waiting to happen, let’s examine the two walkways that once connected Virginia Court and Marischal Court. These have not been in use for at least 3 decades. Again, maybe it’s beyond my humble understanding as to why leaving these walkways unmaintained and subject to the harsh winds and rain of Aberdeen for decades is in fact, perfectly safe and nothing to worry about. But I do worry.

There seems to be an insane innocence to all this, a sort of, it’ll never happen here, attitude.

But it might. Consider the aforementioned banister struts sticking out of the wall. No children have lost eyes, yet, so it must be safe to leave like that. They won’t take action, apparently, until after someone gets hurt.

When Historic Environment Scotland granted these Aberdeen high-rise buildings protected status, Aberdeen City Council protested in a kind of ‘Hey we were just about to fix that problem’ sort of way. But make no mistake, the problems in these buildings are entirely down to the borderline criminal negligence of Aberdeen City Council.

New Council HQ


Let’s take an interesting example from Aberdeen’s own recent historical past shall we? Not that long ago Aberdeen City Council decided that their HQ just wasn’t up to snuff. They needed somewhere new and my goodness didn’t that happen quickly!

The old building was gone in record time, a new home was found across the road. It was renovated, cleaned inside and out, new offices fitted and oh look, some fancy lights. In fact the whole area was regenerated in a remarkably short time. Aberdeen City Council can move pretty damn fast when it’s their own comfort at stake.

And what happened to Virginia and Marischal Court? Where people actually have to live, while all this frenzied rebuilding was going on 500 yards away? Well they were left to rot.

Putting aside the hideous living conditions of the poor souls stuck here to one side for a moment. Something Aberdeen City Council seems to have little difficulty in doing. People are telling us that these buildings are in some way culturally important; they’re not but let’s play the game. That means they’ve been letting these highly important buildings crumble away. So even if you take the human element out of this equation, there is still some world class negligence going on here.

Where’s the rush to action that Aberdeen City Council are apparently capable of, given the right self serving conditions?

An important building like Virginia Court falling into complete disrepair? Who do we call about that? If it’s so important, where’s the money?

The Human Element


Except of course, it’s impossible to take the human element out of this discussion, at least not without being a complete sociopath, because real people have to live in these buildings and they need help. Lifts that open, safe balconies, insulation, a heating solution from this century, an absence of midges and rats, a measure of privacy, fewer mushrooms, you know, the little things.

Unfortunately, since being designated as culturally significant, there is now a delay in any major repair work going on in this area. So people, who live in considerably nicer accommodation than is available in Marischal Court, can argue at great length and in comfort, about the relative merits of Brutalist design concepts.

But the truth is that these Aberdeen high-rise buildings were never any good, interesting architecture aside,  and thanks to the inaction of Aberdeen City Council they’ve gone from bad to worse. Decades of simply looking the other way.

The people living in Virginia and Marischal Court need many things to be sure, but I can tell you what they don’t need, before some idiot turns up with a bucket of paint and a Council grant, they don’t need a mural.

Media Gallery


All photos owned by Mark Stirton.


Lauren Mitchell in her Northsound Radio studio

Temp Check - Lauren Mitchell from Northsound Radio

Lauren Mitchell's breakfast radio show with co-presenter Jeff Diack is a huge success. The presenters' positive disposition has has solidified their position as North East Scotland's most listened to breakfast show. In more normal times, you could also see them supporting community events in Aberdeen like Celebrate Aberdeen and Grampian Pride.

We thought it was time to catch up with Lauren to see how she's doing as Aberdeen on from lockdown to recovery.

https://youtu.be/UseLRzl8wGY

Hey Lauren. Our first question in Temp Check interviews is always the same. It’s a simple question, but the answer is often not so simple…how are you doing right now?

Hiya Chris! Certainly a BIG question… however, the first answer that comes to mind is absolutely fantastic thank you! The sun is shining in Aberdeen today and I bought myself a houseplant this week, saw my family, some friends and had a BBQ! What more can I need in my life?!

Can you tell us a little about your background, how old you were when you started in radio, and how you became a presenter at Northsound?

I grew up all over the place, as my parents were in the Royal Air Force, which meant I had to become used to talking to many different people from a young age. This is where I developed my passion for “communication” and talking to people. When I was younger, I used to listen to the radio and repeat the adverts (usually that’s everyone’s least favourite part…I just loved it!)

We do tend to stay positive in the morning because nobody wants to listen to a negative Nigel do they? I believe it is so important to put your issues aside, unless of course you're sharing part of your life that may help somebody else.
Lauren Mitchell

I knew I wanted to go into Media/Journalism, so I joined college and completed a HND in Radio. From there, I completed my undergraduate degree in Media at Robert Gordon University. I graduated in 2015, moved back to St Andrews and I sent a video of myself doing the travel for a competition Northsound were running called "The Chosen One." About 3 weeks later, I got a call from Northsound telling me I was the CHOSEN ONE! I don't think I've ever been more excited in my whole life. That was 6 years ago which would have made me…. 21! I then moved everything back to Aberdeen and started on the Homerun show as a Travel Reporter.

You and your co-presenter Jeff Diack have a reputation for being hugely positive. How did you manage to maintain that at the start of lockdown when the rest of the world felt very scary?

Hahaha!! I love this question. We do tend to stay positive in the morning because nobody wants to listen to a negative Nigel do they? Being a presenter, I believe, a huge part of it (if not all of it) is being there for your listener and making them smile and laugh in the morning. I believe it is so important to put your issues aside, unless of course you're sharing part of your life that may help somebody else. 99% of the time though, when I walk into the studio, I would leave my personal problems at the door.

Lauren Mitchell surrounded by daffodils, taking a photo of St Machar Cathedral in Aberdeen
Photo supplied by Lauren Mitchell

Has your outlook to the world changed over the past 12 months?

Absolutely! I’ve become someone who spends less money on clothes and I’m now investing in nice pillows and homely plants for my house… (Have I officially promoted myself to a sensible adult? Oh no!!!) In all seriousness though, I’ve always believed you should say YES to everything and worry about it later, do things that scare you, try new things, explore and make yourself as happy as you possibly can with whatever works for you… but now more than ever, I appreciate my family, my friends and the people around me. I am so grateful for the little things, just like everyone is I suppose. I feel like you will be nodding along there thinking, we definitely did take things for granted a bit, didn’t we?

It’s obvious to everyone that listens that you love your job. What is it about radio presenting that gets you up in the morning?

I really do feel lucky everyday to talk and play songs on the radio, it has its own little challenges like any job but I have to say, for me, it's the first laugh we have in the morning, the conversations we have with our listener, the funny things we talk about. Radio is very much a friend to most and it’s also a friend to me too… It is as much a comfort to me as it is to those who do turn to us in the morning.

Aside from your immediate colleagues, who inspires you professionally?

So many different people inspire me in different ways. My colleagues are great and I'm so thankful for them. My family of course are always driving themselves forward professionally which has always been an inspiration to me. Two people in particular though - 1. Kirstin Gove, who we all know is just an incredible person all round and 2. Pete McIntosh… the person who is always so positive, creative and pushing for his next challenge.

What is your favourite part of your working day?

I love the Win it Minute quiz that we do every morning. It's a really positive fun little way of interacting with every listener, no matter what age. I also reckon I’d be quite good at quizzes now after learning the most random facts from the Win it Minute over the last 5 years!

https://youtu.be/zHfwRZGL76Y

One aspect of your role at Northsound is to be part of the community they serve. How would you say Aberdeen has changed in the past 5 years?

I think Aberdeen has changed massively and I do believe we’ve become much more of a tight community, it feels like we are one city and we look after each other. When I think of Aberdeen, I think 'creative and innovative'. We have so many fantastic talented people in this city, I'm so proud to live here. Walking around the streets and seeing NUART, the SPECTRA festival, The beautiful Art Gallery and all the pop-up events with local producers and creatives - it is just a great place to be.

I’m determined to get a nugget of negativity from you today…so what pisses you off?

Bad drivers, I’d be a liar if I said I never get a little bit of inner road rage. Too scared to beep my horn though!

You seem to be a very determined and laser focused woman. What advice would you give to young girls who would like to follow in your footsteps.

I have three tips.

1.   Find your confidence and own it! You are beautifully unique and you should champion yourself.
2.   Don’t give up, get up and try again… If you fail, it is only a bigger lesson and better adventure.
3.   Work hard (get experience) but also treat yourself, enjoy the crazy ride that life brings us!

And before we go…my youngest would like to know what your favourite tune is right now?

OH!!! Good question….I know in years to come, I’ll see this and I’ll think “DID I REALLY LIKE THAT SONG?!” but right now, it HAS to be Ella Henderson & Tom Grennan – Let's go Home together!

Ha, she'll love that! She's also a big fan of that song. Your early morning influence is strong! ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ


Thanks very much to Lauren for her brilliant answers to our questions. We're positive that we'll have her back at some time in the future. You can hear her every weekday on Jeff and Lauren in the Morning. The show also has a positive presence on Twitter, and Facebook.

Our conversation with Gary Kemp, founder of Doric Skateboards is a great, follow-up read. The challenges he has faced in building a business from scratch are worth your time.