Aberdeen’s Lord Provost Barney Crockett has been named an honorary fellow of the country’s top architecture institute – being recognised for a lifelong interest in social housing.
The Aberdeen Labour councillor was announced among an intake of nine, revealing his “delight” at the “fantastic accolade” reserved for architects, designers, and heritage champions.
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) announced Mr Crockett’s fellowship on the same day as it declared the recently refurbished Aberdeen Art Gallery a “spectacular triumph”, and one of the best buildings in the country.
He was nominated by a member of the local RIAS chapter and then judged a suitable candidate by a judging panel.
Founded in 1916, the institute is the professional body for all chartered architects in Scotland.
Mr Crockett claimed not to know who had put him forward for the award, but said he hoped his enthusiasm for social housing had been one of the reasons behind it.
“I gave a talk to architects at an event and one of the things that might have stuck in their heads is that, instead of visiting the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz museums in Stuttgart, I told about about my tour of the Weissenhof housing estate.
“When I go anywhere I always try and go and see the local architecture – it’s a key part of a trip for me.
“I also spoke about the plan for Aberdeen in the 1940s, how parts of it were taken forward and others were not.”
The Weissenhof estate, built in 1927, was made part of a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2016 due to homes designed by French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier.
Lord Provost: ‘Huge pressure’ to protect Aberdeen’s architectural legacy
But the lord provost said there was plenty to celebrate in Aberdeen too.
“On the whole, Aberdeen is an absolute treasure trove,” he added.
“There is a huge pressure and difficulty in having that strength of legacy in our city.
“In terms of pioneering social housing in Aberdeen, Rosemount Square would be seen as an incredible achievement architecturally and the Kincorth housing estate is notable as the last granite housing scheme in Britain.
“And of course, more controversially, our tower blocks have recently been listed and – while there is a major headache for the council in that regard – they are the best of their type.”
City architects built the horseshoe Rosemount Square flats in response to dire need for better housing in the city.
Designed in 1938, it was decorated with three art deco panel on its outer walls, sculpted by then head of sculpture at Gray’s School of Art, Thomas Huxley-Jones.
Aberdeen City Council is currently in a legal battle against the Category A-listing of eight brutalist high rises across the city, built after the Second World War.
Other new honoary fellows named by RIAS include architects Kate Macintosh and David Sim, arts and architecture patron David Cairns, former Apple chief designer Sir Jony Ive and 60s fashion-maker Dame Mary Quant, Highland Historic Buildings Trust director Mary Miers and Glasgow Life chief executive Bridget McConnell.