Less is More: the muse of Marischal Square

Many hundreds of Aberdonians turned out to show their disapproval of the hugely misconceived Muse development which has the enthusiastic backing of the Labour led Aberdeen City Council.

Anti-Muse demo

Views ranged from outright anger to suspicion over how we were so misled by them. At one stage all talk was of a civic square being created to act as a focus for the city which would be used for cultural events as well as a sanctuary for the people of the city – who it should be remembered own this site.

The square idea contracted and contracted until all that remained after officials, councillors and developers completed their negotiations was a street, and one that will be overshadowed by a bloody great series of soulless boxes.

Where else have we seen them?

Ah, yes over at the Triple Kirks going up right now.
Who, in their right mind, would agree to this dismal development?

Several of those demonstrating their opposition were pretty certain they knew the reason (reasons) that swayed support. Suffice to say it was nothing connected with the architectural integrity of the site.

Marischal College is one of the finest buildings in the whole of Scotland. A backdrop of this magnificent granite edifice to a civic square would place Aberdeen on the map in terms of civic pride and ambition.


What the Muse shopping centre will do is underline the bankruptcy of ambition and imagination of the current Labour led council.
Muse demo

I did not see Dame Anne Begg there – she was a prominent opponent, correctly, of the equally appalling Union Terrace Gardens design. So does this mean she, and her fellow Labour MP Frank Doran and the usually opinionated MSP, Lewis Macdonald have given their backing to this monstrosity? We can assume so until we hear otherwise.

On 9 October 2014 the local newspaper quoted Willie Young, Labour group secretary saying they did not operate a whip and that planning decisions were non-political.

I think we can all make up our own minds on that.

The 7000 signatories to the petition objecting to the Muse development are well aware of the shortcomings of those who have pushed and pushed this proposal.
We should be asking WHY this one?

WHY is this design that overwhelms the site?

The architecture is ugly. The scale is ridiculous. The loss of a world-class amenity ought to be a actionable.

It is time to hold the people who flex their power to impose such an abomination on the city to account for their cultural vandalism.

“Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council deputy leader, added: “We are seeing the start of what will be a vibrant and exciting development on the old St. Nicholas House site.”

“Planning committee convener Ramsay Milne insisted, however, that the council acted “entirely properly” in its handling of the case.

Mr Milne moved to approve the plans, praising officers and insisting elected members had a “civic duty” to back the redevelopment.”

“Council leader Jenny Laing said Marischal Square could provide a “beating heart” for the centre of Aberdeen.”


“Labour’s Willie Young faced a backlash after his comments in the Press and Journal that it was “already determined” that the £107million Marischal Square project would go ahead. 18 July 2014.”

It was great that so many gathered to demonstrate their disapproval but having turned out in their high hundreds the organisers should have had something to focus the event to increase its impact: speakers on mic, holding hands around the condemned site, demanding an appearance from the man the crowd held most responsible for this debacle, Willie Young, who it was reported was in the Town House at the time.


Muse demo

There was a time city officials were prepared to face their critics and respond to their objections to their decisions but no more, our present-day incumbents hide in their Town House ivory tower.

Such is 21st century democracy in Aberdeen.


5 Comments to “Less is More: the muse of Marischal Square”

  1. I’m a newly enrolled student at SRUC Craibstone and long-term Aberdonian and I’m frankly tired of the constant development fuck-ups of the city council.

    It’s sometimes enough to make me want to just leave the city to it’s fate and find somewhere that hopefully respects itself & its surroundings.

    If it’s not poorly considered city centre developments (office spaces that never will be filled, lazy eyesore architecture, yet more student accommodation, etc, the periodic proposal to bulldoze what character Aberdeen has for soulless grey flat expanses).

    Following onto that is the AWPR fiasco, which while maybe necessary in the long term makes me grit my teeth because we all know it’s also just an excuse for yet more development corridors, more of the many ugly sprawling cramped cheap new-build estates being put up around the city, often in places that have no business with developments on them, prone to flood risks, etc, the folly of the Kingsford stadium build, etc.

    All for a city that took a hard 15% population drop after the last oil crash and shows no signs of improving.

    And so we come to Craibstone. SRUC being an Edinburgh based enterprise sees fit to let decay or sell off it;s other assets. A rural college that has the audacity to teach environment & countryside management, conservation etc in the same breath sells off near-pristine country around it for high-density ugly cheap new build estates,

    Maybe they saw the way the wind was blowing with the bypass and the developments to the north but still, sad.bitter taste to go to classes wanting to help conserve the countryside passing through the rapid and intense scouring of it, with the school’s blessing.

    And yes, the failure to give the city a perfectly fine open city square for the sake of short term lazy greed is a prime example of how the city council has consistently failed Aberdeen. It leaves huge swathes of the city to rot, to go literally mouldy, but finds a way to fund a nice row of restaurants across from it’s offices.

    A disgrace.

    Well, such is to be expected in Aberdeen, sensible, sustainable smart & civic minded development & management avoids this place.

  2. The light open space felt good in the sun! Every time a bus went past, the shady chill reminded us that an even bigger shadow would be cast by a permanent construction. So much for ecology and sustainability. Goodbye quality environment. New York understands how to step back from the sidewalk. Broad Street extension won’t be a broad way. It will be narrower than before.

    • It’s chilling what’s happening to Byron’s old street in all senses. Given some of the personalities involved there’s no question of a rational debate over this issue. Madness is driving it forward.

  3. The depressing thought is that the last lot who favoured UTG destruction (not to mention pushing through cuts in local social services which brought hundreds on to the streets) were voted out only to be replaced by a different set of vandals. Is it a question of choosing the lesser vandals, and where and how do we find them?

  4. Your solution. Vote them out a.s.a.p., though I guess that will be too late for a rethink

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