The Aberdeen Business School building marks the first phase in a twenty-year masterplan to restructure Robert Gordon University, uniting its facilities within a new campus in rolling wooded countryside on the banks of the River Dee. The masterplan preserves the site’s natural setting by dividing it into three zones, with car-parking to the north, a central zone of buildings, and parkland to the south. New buildings are planned around a central ‘street’, which connects the individual faculties, strengthening their interrelationship.
The point at which the street passes through the new Faculty of Management is marked by a four-storey atrium; this is the heart of the building, from where all teaching, library and office areas are accessed. It is flooded with light and echoes the traditional college quad in offering an ideal place for social interaction between students and staff.
The sweeping profile of the building is a response to the undulating topography and the existing tree canopy. The concrete frame forms terraces down the natural slope of the site, oversailed by a curving roof. The roof beams project beyond the building envelope into the landscape at the southern end, where student common rooms overlook a winter garden, opening onto riverside terraces. Cladding of New Kemnay granite – the stone traditionally used in Aberdeen – alternates with infill panels of aluminium and glass, emphasising the building’s structure.
This is a low-cost, low-energy project which minimises maintenance and replacement costs and maximises natural light and ventilation: only lecture theatres and studios in the lower levels require mechanical ventilation, while natural temperature control is enhanced by the building’s thermal mass.