Friday, 30 July 2010


On our way to seek out a prominent example of an Aberdeen Ice House (watch this space) we were struck by the cognitive dissonance provoked by the après-post-modern skyline at new Kepplestone.

Is it an Aztec ziggurat? We wouldn't mind if it were.

We had heard that taxi-drivers in the city have taken to referring to the new Kepplestone as 'the west-end Tillydrone', so we thought we'd better take a closer look. (We can, of course, read well the implication in that loaded phrase, and we don't like it. Tilly is much done-down; residents of other areas self-importantly assuming their own neighborhood to be "better", and populated by a "better kind of folk". It is not, and they are not.)

So, ready for anything, we approached via Viewfield Road. The developer has laid some engraved (if a bit breathless and ungrammatical) granite plaques giving an interpretation of the histobunk of the site.

So far, so good.


Didn't know that.


That's what we were familiar with, before the new development:


So we continued wandering about, firstly on the lower level of the site, where we remember that there used to be rugby pitches. Now there are detatched houses. Not really to our taste, but nice enough and well mannered, if you like that sort of thing.

But why do the feel they must park on the pavements?

The bizarre sense of anti-place only really started when we turned round and looked north up the hill where a orotund yet oddly asymmetrical staircase hints at a touch of unhinged, slurring megalomania in the conception of the scheme.

All Grecian Sir! Modernist detail on a Classical body!

Climbing the steps, we arrive in a neo-Grecian courtyard. If you find yourself a little tired out by the climb, you'll be glad to see that the developer has thoughtfully provided some Granitette chairs where you may sit and admire the details.

Moving on, we are ushered under a pointless arch for a view of the 'exclusive' parking. A significant and important aspect of any housing development for the sort of people who want to live like this, we understand.

And so to the tower-blocks. Note the astroturf on the un-balcony. Honestly. Why?

Thrilling juxtaposition of old and new.

Turning round to re-orientate ourselves, we notice the remains of Kepplestone House. And we begin to lose hope.

We remember the College of Domestic Science - 'The Dough School'. Slab and plinth modernism, not to everyone's taste - fair enough - but it sat back from Queen's Road and down an embankment. Today's residential towers loom boastfully and alarmingly over what remains Aberdeen's premier residential area.

They rejected plans to build a supermarket into the profile of the slope, so they got this residential development instead. We'll wager that the longer-established residents of Queen's Road, Royfold Crescent and Anderson Drive would much sooner have the Dough School back.

Turning our eyes skyward (in search of hope), we looked up in the darkening gloom and we could see that the residents of three of the apartments, each flat atop the other, were watching television. The television screens shone out over Queens Road in the gloaming. Identical large screen LCD's mounted in identical positions on their respective identical and otherwise unadorned walls, all identically tuned to the same channel. There was an ad-break being transmitted.

From the 22,000 mile high 'Clarke-orbit' geostationary Sky satellite to the dishes of Kepplestone, via the walls of the over-mortgaged residents, the tired eyes of the rush-hour motorists - furiously becalmed in the tea-time gridlock at the Earls Court roundabout - were invited to consider whether or not they were paying too much for their car insurance.

We note that the entire complex is guarded by a tank. The gun points towards the development and its residents. We approve of that, and wonder if any of them have noticed...

By Gad! A tank!


Karen U said...

ah the slums of the future. bet the snotty residents wish they hadn't so heavily opposed the idea for an underground supermarket- although I never quite worked out how that was going to happen

Mick Miller said...

These are ugly constructions - an attempt to be terribly trendy, post modern and up to date but they reek of shoddiness, poor materials and a lack of imagination. As usual a fascinating and insightful overview. Thankyou Other Aberdeen!

Anonymous said...

Now I know I am getting old!
For me Kepplestone was Dunfermline College and the Dough School was in King Street.

What is the point of huge picture windows when the only view is straight through the huge picture window of your (very close) neighbour in the next block?

Jim Mennie said...

I cannot confirm this quote, but I did hear that these ultramodern flats have a maximum floor loading of twenty persons. Thank god hogmany parties are a thing of the past otherwise these flats might come tumbling down.

Anonymous said...


the maximum floor load is TEN. I have heard the floor swings about like a waltzer beyond that

Anonymous said...

The floor loading "myth" is utter bull. I know as i live in Kepplestone.

Yes the outside is not too everyones taste. And yes i prefer granite housing too.

But inside is very nice and spacious. The parking is excellent with no common on street problems. And no amount of boring pictures of gutters or negative comments will overcome the fact it is prime real estate in the west end with excellent transport links and local infrastructure.

The rest of the comments are merely jealously.

I bet none of you have even been inside one?

FYI, the gatehouse is under construction. The other old house cannot be touched by Stewart M as it needs specialist listed building permission.

My neighbours are all nice professionals. Unlike the studentville or DSS that seems to occupy most other parts of Aberdeen.

Anonymous said...


When was the last time you had 10 people in your kitchen? haha. Such utter bull. What do you line up your friends on the kitchen sink and one in the fridge?

Other Aberdeen said...

@Anonymous Kepplestone Resident, 4 February 2011 12:13

Welcome to the Comments section at Other Aberdeen. It is our policy not to delete comments, unless they are commercial spam or in some way abusive. We've had a debate at OtherAberdeen towers in the heart of upscale downtown Pitmuxton that your comments may actually fall into the first of those categories - are you selling your property at the moment? In any case, your comment is borderline abusive - please be warned that socially prejudiced comments will not be tolerated in future.


Sian said...

I am disappointed that my great grandfather Thomas Ogilvie is not mentioned. He owned Kepplestone in the early 1900's. If anyone has info on him I would be grateful. I have a lovely picture of him in the the grounds and it so sad to see the original house not lived in, or used for some other purpose. What will happen to it now?


Other Aberdeen said...


Thanks very much for your comment - it's fascinating and engaging to hear from someone with a personal family connection to the subject. We'd be really interested to hear any and all information you have about Kepplestone; we'd love to use your inside knowledge (with your permission, of course) along with the photo you mention as part of a future article for Other Aberdeen. Please contact us directly at and we'll see what we can do to take the story farther together.

Please get in touch, we're looking forward to hearing from you...


As far as it goes for Keppestone House - it was used as the 'marketing suite' for the recent development phases, we're sure the developer will refurbish and market the house at some point - but for the moment it lies sadly boarded up, its drive and court used for building material storage.

Joan Scott said...

I had a great time at Robert Gordon's College at Kepplestone between 1984 and 1987 during which time I studied for my BSc in Home Economics. It was a lovely open site and it annoys me every time I drive past those shoddy Stewart Milne homes pretending to be quality living just because they are on a prime west end position in the city.