A project which saw hundreds of school pupils design and build models of their ideal shop for Union Street has won a national award.
The youngsters’ ideas ranged from a pet shop with a dog assault course, to a retailer specialising in space toys, and even a shop where you could create sweets with any flavour – including Brussels sprouts.
The Aberdeen City Council school engagement project involved almost 400 pupils and has been named a joint winner in the people category at the Scottish Government’s Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning.
Judging criteria covered “innovation in the participation of a person or people (whether young or old) making a demonstrable effect on the transformation of a place or within the planning system”.
Pupils from six primary schools – Albyn, Heathryburn, Kittybrewster, Middleton Park, Robert Gordon’s College and Skene Square took part in the the Union Street Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) Shopfront Design Project.
Among the other shopfronts designed by the children were Slimetastic, Sunflower Spa and also The Duellers – a place to play card games.
The project was developed by the council, Aberdeen Urban Studies Trust, and the Aberdeen City Heritage Trust, and supported by the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment and the Aberdeen Society of Architects.
Conservation planners helped pupils with their task, and spoke to them of the importance of understanding and respecting heritage when creating shop frontages.
Cultural spokesperson Councillor Marie Boulton said: “We are delighted that the innovative approach of officers and partners in exploring the possibilities for Union Street has been recognised in the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning.
“However, this accolade is really a recognition of the creativity of our youngsters, whose passion for Union Street and belief in a bright future for the city centre shone through during the project.
“Aberdeen is a place where children’s voices are heard – whether that’s shaping public services or developing and managing the built environment. When it comes to transforming Aberdeen, we can all learn from each other.”
The scheme was taken forward as part of the Union Street Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme and ended in a celebratory event at the Tivoli Theatre and then a public exhibition at Aberdeen Arts Centre.
It was also a finalist in the Excellence in Planning for Heritage and Culture category at the Royal Town Planning Institute Awards of Planning Excellence earlier this year.
The £2.4 million CARS programme is jointly funded by Aberdeen City Council and Historic Environment Scotland with further backing from Aberdeen Inspired and Aberdeen City Heritage Trust. Grants are available to help pay for repairs and renovations.