Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Turning of the Tide

A little while ago, we pointed out that the banner pic at the top of the Other Aberdeen blog has a significance beyond what might be apparent. We might change it one day, so here it is on this post:

There it is: Aberdeen's North Pier, Breakwater, Guiding Light and Harbourmaster's Tower photographed at the exact moment of the turning of a very high tide at the mouth of the Dee.

We've just returned from a few days on business in London, and were amazed to find out that while we were away a metaphorical tide had appeared to have turned in Aberdeen:

  • The Bon Accord Baths, it has been reported by Aberdeen City Council, are set to gain a tenant. The preferred bidder for the lease is to transform what we believe to be this truly iconic building into a stylish new arts centre. Not only are we are delighted that this internationally important building has a future but we are also very pleased that its new use will be as:
a new home for theatre, art and dance studios, a music recording studio and practice rooms for up-and-coming artists. The building could also host half-term holiday clubs for children and workshops for people of all generations, disabilities or backgrounds.
  • The future of The Belmont Picturehouse has been secured. A town-centre cinema valued for providing an alternative programme to the unchallenging anemic diet of Hollywood blockbusters available elsewhere, this arthouse cinema had been under threat of closure after the collapse of lease negotiations between the council (owners of the building) and potential new operators. A petition signed by more than 4500 cinemagoers was instrumental in making the council aware of the affection in which the Belmont Picturehouse's patrons held the cinema.
  • We learned of plans for a commercially-operated convenient car-share "car club" scheme in Aberdeen's town centre. Currently operating successfully in 46 other towns and cities across the UK, car clubs like these allow residents all the flexibility and envirnomental benefit of on-demand motor-vehicle use without the unnecessary environmental, economic and urban-detrimental overhead of actually owning a car - like a taxi you drive yourself. Take a smart BMW to a relative's wedding, take a Transit van to the tip. Brilliant.
Broadly speaking, a car club is an organisation that owns or leases, and maintains, a fleet of cars from which its members can book a vehicle whenever they need it. The club pays for tax, insurance, servicing, cleaning and fuel, whereas members pay a joining fee and a subsequent fee for each journey made ... Studies by Carplus, a national charity supporting responsible car use, have shown that 10% of car club members will give up owning a car or sell a second family car or defer owning a car in the first place. Typically, this results in ten vehicles slipping off the radar for each car club vehicle. The environmental benefits are evident, and individuals are encouraged to consider more closely whether they really need a car, or (more likely) whether they really need a second one.
All small things, yes, but taken together they represent incremental victories for those of us who hope to see Aberdeen build a broad base of creative capital within a new, livable, progressive, human-scale implementation of urbanism. This in turn will provide the foundation for a creative-arts-based regeneration of our city and a virtuous cycle of further iterative progress for the urban livability agenda - both of which being main interests and aims of this blog.

So often at Other Aberdeen we feel we are swimming against the tide. It has been nice to return from a few days away and find that we are, for the moment at least, going with the flow.


John Aberdein said...

There is a tide in the affairs of men,*
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

* And eke of women, brats, bairns and toddlers,

Michelle Wyllie said...

Absolutely delighted that the Bon Accord Baths building is to be transformed into an arts centre. Aberdeen needs arts venues more than it needs shopping centres and I hope this is just the start. Also delighted that the Belmont Cinema will stay open.

Anonymous said...

Good news times three - thanks! And: how amazing that your photograph is of the tide turning. Beautiful.