Eight Aberdeen high rise buildings receive category A listed status

Porthill Court
(Image: Google Maps 2021)

EIGHT high rise buildings in Aberdeen have been granted Category A listing by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Gilcomstoun Land, Porthill Court, Seamount Court, Virginia Court, Marischal Court, Thistle Court, Hutcheon Court, and Greig Court have all received the listing which signifies they are of outstanding importance.

HES said that the towers are examples of post-war architecture which help tell the story of post-war Scotland, with Aberdeen having been earmarked at the time for significant economic growth which resulted on an ambitious programme of civic regeneration.

The public body added that what makes the eight buildings so important is the number of them – all eight of the multis were planned as part of the regeneration and all eight have survived to the present day.

The buildings are described by HES as ‘some of the finest examples of social housing in Scotland’. They were designed by the Aberdeen city architects department, under the supervision of George McIntosh Keith. At the time, most buildings of this type were factory-made system-built schemes, but Aberdeen took a different approach which involved innovative town planning and high-quality individual designs by their own architects.

Elizabeth McCrone, head of designations at HES, said, “Listing is a way of recognising buildings and structures that create Scotland’s distinctive character, and through which we can discover more about the stories of our past.

“The Aberdeen flats tell us much about how the city and its architects responded to the challenges of housing large amounts of people in the city centre during the 1960s – a time of relative prosperity, low unemployment and optimism for the future.

“By designating and building these flats the Aberdeen city architects department were at the cutting edge of new thinking about town planning and housing. These buildings were very carefully designed and used superior materials to many of the less-successful types of multi-storey housing of this era which have now been demolished.

“Listing doesn’t mean that a structure has to stay the same forever or remain in its original use. Rather, it means that there is a special interest that should be taken into account in the planning process.

“Exceptional architecture has always been built in Scotland and the Aberdeen flats should be celebrated as a key part of our 20th century heritage, which help us understand the ambitions and aspirations of the city at that time.”

The proposal to list the buildings came from Miles Glendinning, a professor of modern architecture who was contacted by residents. Professor Glendinning said, “I’m a great admirer of the Granite City, and these buildings fit into its fabric, both in material (using granite in their construction) and in how they’ve been built into the historic and modern urban pattern.

“In architectural terms, these buildings stand out because architecturally and socially, they are a continuation of the civic-mindedness and pride of previous generations of great Aberdonians. They are also a social success, which for me is just as important as the architectural interest.”