27 February 2008



Plans for the major new centre for the contemporary arts, the first of its kind in the North of Scotland, were today approved by the Scottish Government.

The £12.5 million development is expected to be completed by 2010 and provide a much-needed boost to this part of Scotland’s cultural provision.

Architects Brisac Gonzalez, the designers of the award-winning Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, are delighted after receiving the green light for their first Scottish development.

The plans have been praised by Architecture and Design Scotland for both the unique design and the collaborative approach taken by Peacock Visual Arts, the project leader, and by Aberdeen City Council. The innovative design places the arts centre right in the heart of the city by incorporating the development into a sunken Victorian garden and has been described as ‘visionary’ and ‘iconic’.

The new Union Terrace Gardens centre will attract over 200,000 visitors per year to the North-east. Within its 3,200 square metres it will host activities spanning the contemporary arts and house galleries, printmaking, television and dance studios, workshops and an education suite.

It aims to be an international centre of excellence for participation and education in the contemporary arts as well as a North-east home for the creative industries.

The economic benefit that the new centre will bring has also been welcomed,attracting development funding from Scottish Enterprise Grampian in recognition of the projected £4 million the centre will bring annually to the local economy.

The plans were unanimously approved by Aberdeen City Council and have received public backing, with thousands of messages of support submitted to Holyrood ahead of the decision.

Lindsay Gordon, Director of Peacock said: ‘We are delighted at receiving the Ministers’ go-ahead. As soon as Brisac Gonzalez unveiled the plans we knew this development would bring something very special to the cultural and architectural landscape of the UK. What we have here is a stunning building that will put Aberdeen on par with other Northern European cultural centres such as Helsinki, Oslo and Copenhagen.”

Kate Dean, Aberdeen City Council Leader said: “Bringing high quality architecture to Aberdeen is a key part of our vision for city centre redevelopment. We are pleased that the Scottish Ministers have recognised this by approving Brisac Gonzalez’s beautiful design. What we’re creating is an iconic building for the city that will not only be used by all of our communities but attract people from outside the area.”

Aberdeen City Council lead councillor for culture Jennifer Stewart said:”I am so pleased that Scottish ministers have approved the centre, which will be an excellent addition to the North-east’s art scene. It will help put us on an equal footing with Glasgow and Edinburgh in showcasing the best in contemporary arts.”

A detailed model of the new plans for the centre will be on display to the public in the City Council’s St Nicholas House headquarters for the next month.

Notes to Editors:

Peacock is Aberdeen’s leading contemporary arts organisation. Over the last seven years it has developed into one of the UK’s leading contemporary galleries, featuring exhibitions by artists from across Europe, North America and Japan and pioneering within print-making, digital media and social engagement programmes.

Lindsay Gordon, Director of Peacock Visual Arts and Project Director for the new centre for the contemporary arts, has over 30 years’ experience within the Scottish arts scene. Formerly Head of Visual Arts for the Scottish Arts Council, he has led Peacock Visual Arts’ transformation from a printmaking studio into one of Scotland’s leading contemporary art organisations. The realisation of the new centre for the contemporary arts is the final stage in this journey.

Aberdeen is Scotland’s third city, with a population of over 200,000 and a regional audience of 435,000. Economically vibrant, Aberdeen is known as the Energy Capital of Europe.

Brisac Gonzalez are an award-winning London-based architecture practice. They were chosen to lead the design team after an international OJEC competition attracting more than 40 entries. They are currently working on projects in London, Moscow, Paris and Aberdeen.

The plans for the new centre will be on display in Aberdeen City Council’s corporate headquarters St Nicholas House next month.