Architecture students at Robert Gordon University (RGU) have drawn up ideas for attracting more people to live and work in the Cairngorms.

The final year students have proposed ideas for the Cairngorms National Park, which takes in the towns of Braemar, Ballater and Tomintoul, such as the introduction of live and work spaces, the repurposing of mothballed distilleries and building more affordable housing.

The two-year unit was led by Professor Gokay Deveci who said: “Scottish Towns may be perceived as having evolved organically. However, in Scotland, almost 500 villages with diverse economic and social activities were planned by landowners during the eighteen and nineteenth centuries and some of these are based in Cairngorms.

“Many of the settlements and towns within the park are now facing similar issues, such as ageing populations, the migration of working age people to more urban areas and a struggling economic situation, so the students have looked at ways of developing architectural solutions to address these.

“The focus was on creating adaptable and dynamic structures suitable for the northerly context of the Cairngorms.”

Student Alexandra Dobes (24) has proposed the establishment of a new cultural centre where arts and crafts artists from Scotland and Nordic countries could come together.

She said: “Such a centre could be a catalyst for traditional and contemporary craft artists from the area, bring art and culture closer to communities and create opportunities for economic regeneration in the area.

“The development of cultural activities in the Cairngorms would improve the quality of life of those living and visiting the region, through exhibitions, workshops and the other socio-cultural activities that will take place, as well as increase awareness of the importance of craftsmanship.”

She chose a former mill set in the hills at the foot of the Lecht as the starting point for the centre, and added: “It is very important to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage the area.”

Lukas Vegys (24) and Kyle Scott (23) meanwhile looked towards the historical precedent of Scottish Planned towns and exploring how an increase in residential density might help improve resilience.

Lukas said: “Despite significant depopulation over the last two centuries, the Cairngorms are predicting a substantial increase in population and so the opportunity for Tomintoul to accommodate its share needs to be harnessed.

“Expansion is planned to be accommodated through building on the periphery of the town – although this will satisfy the immediate need for housing, it fails to address the issues of a declining town centre, aging population, disappearing shops and facilities and the ever increasing distance residents need to travel for basic goods.

“The proposal I’ve developed looks at how increasing density within the existing town square could accommodate the growing needs and additionally act in conjunction with the town centre’s regeneration that could in theory reverse the decline and attract a larger piece of the predicted growth.”

Kyle added: “The scheme itself aims to create a hypothetical approach as to how the town might be able to expand to include increased density but in a more controlled manner than has currently been happening.

“It offers a reinstatement of the street front and then uses the elongated plots behind this frontage as an opportunity for increased density in an attempt to make the town more resilient to future pressures.”

The work will go on display at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment as part of the End of Year Show, which runs from June 18 to 25. To find out more, visit

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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