RGU works with residents to bring back community spirit in Seaton

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Seaton Regeneration Project - Students from The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment
Students from The Scott’s School of Architecture & Built Environment (SSS) at Robert Gordon University (RGU) are working on a new design project to revitalise Seaton in Aberdeen.

The team of third year students are collaborating with residents in Seaton and charity, Fresh Community Wellness SCIO, to map out areas to improve local amenities and create new social spaces.

The project, ‘RGU visions for Seaton Community Regeneration’, forms part of The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment (SSS) third year Placemaking course that aims to foster social inclusion and to revitalise the area. To launch the project, the students held a community event in Seaton, meeting local residents along with members from the FRESH charity, The Rotary club, Aberdeen City Council and the Sikh Gurudwara.

The plans build upon the previous Totem Pole community project, established in 2006, where children from Seaton School and the local community built a giant Totem pole inspired by First Nation artwork. Residents came together to take part in in carving, jewellery making and afterschool workshops. The area became known as Totem Pole Corner and after ten years, this popular community landmark was given a new lease of life and restored. Sadly, the Totem Pole once again fell into disrepair and had to be removed for safety. 

The current Seaton Community Regeneration project aims to restore the Totem Pole and build upon this early success. A a team of architecture students from Scotts have identified a further 9 areas in Seaton that could be improved with new social spaces and travel routes. Sheltered outside areas could be created in Bayview, Aulton and Northsea. New pathways would be built to connect the beach and nature reserve. Sheltered seating with tree planted areas and robust wildflowers would be created along with a new skateboard park. It’s also hoped a community-based garden of around 2000 square metres, would be set aside for food growing and planting and that this area would be managed by the residents themselves.  

Course leader from The Scott School of Architecture & Built Environment, Dr Quazi Zaman said: “We want to improve the Totem Pole area but also have bigger aspirations to revitalise the whole of Seaton. We’ve identified nine other sites that could be improved and are recommending new areas for young children to play and usable spaces to better connect the local community.

“Unfortunately, Seaton has experienced urban degradation, poor maintenance and lack of accessibility to open spaces. This has affected the economic prosperity of local residents and their overall wellbeing. Many residents face social isolation and a sedentary lifestyle with chronic health problems and a lack of employment.

“Working in partnership with residents and the Fresh SCIO charity, we believe there is huge potential for Seaton. There are many unused spaces and it’s about reimaging how best to improve the area. These spaces are waiting to be re-invented and we want to work with the local community to help them achieve this.”

Sam Raion, Chairman from Fresh SCIO, said; “Our goals are to work with the residents of Seaton to create new, usable spaces and to encourage a sustainable future for the area, where spaces are created and managed by the local neighbourhood.

“Residents in Seaton and Linksfield have had an overall feeling of being disconnected but we can see this changing. We’ve had a huge interest from the community who want to get involved.

“As a group, FRESH is trying to unite different groups and want to remove any barriers. From experience, this is often from community not knowing or understanding other members of their own community. Putting health and wellness at the centre of the regeneration plans will help and working with the team from The Scott Sutherland School at RGU offers huge potential for the area.

“We are offering hope and, with careful design, we can help the residents overcome problems associated with social isolation, mental health and other vulnerabilities.”

Seaton resident, Janice Hutchinson, aged 83, was part of the group that created the original Seaton Totem pole in 2006. Janice said: “I’ve been a part of the community for decades working with multiple groups. I look forward to the possibilities of uniting groups & all residents, as well as intergenerational work restarting, and being viable with these areas. We previously had schools & Lord Hays Court working together. The ability to create pleasant community areas would be very welcome.”

Professor Nick Fyfe, Vice Principal for Research and Community Engagement at RGU said: "Robert Gordon University has a strong tradition of, and commitment to, engaging with communities across Aberdeen and beyond, working collaboratively to enhance, social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being. By listening to communities, we can find ways to best share our knowledge and expertise, to help improve people's quality of life. Our work with the community in Seaton exemplifies this and we look forward to building on the relationship with the charity Fresh SCIO and residents as we develop the Seaton Regeneration Project."

Image taken by Martin Parker, RGU Gatehouse. Image shows students from the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment: Jose Gonzales Cortes, Yehia Qunash, Patrik Tahotny, Similoluwa Anuoluwapo Popoola, and Maduaburochukwu Sylvia Emefiena.


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