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‘The best view in Aberdeen’: Greyhope Bay Centre to open on Saturday after a decade of work

Fiona McIntyre standing in front of the new Greyhope Bay centre.
Fiona McIntyre first came up with the idea for the Greyhope Bay Centre 10 years ago. Image: Scott Baxter/DCT Media

After a decade of hard work, the new Greyhope Bay will open to the public at the weekend with one of the best views in Aberdeen.

The glass-fronted Greyhope Bay Centre houses a dolphin viewing centre, as well as a cafe and education and community space.

This is the moment founder Fiona McIntyre has been working towards since she came up with the idea for the centre while working as a marine biologist in Torry.

“It feels like a dream to be honest, ” she said.

“It’s still kind of hard to believe, but it feels amazing – like we’ve created something special.”

Founder and managing director Fiona McIntyre with project architect Gokay Deveci. Photo by Scott Baxter/DCT Media

The founder and managing director was emotional as she spoke about all the work that has gone into turning the centre into a reality at Torry Battery.

“I managed to meet (architect) Gokay very early on and he was the first person to take me seriously,” she said.

“He believed in it and elevated the project. I had a dream but he had a view of how this was not just about architecture, but about what it would do for the city.”

Making a big impact for Aberdeen

Community involvement has always been part of architect Gokay Deveci’s projects – but Greyhope Bay in Aberdeen was on a different level.

“Most community projects don’t see an end – the process is arduous and complex – so firstly, I’m delighted it took five years of difficulties but we managed to get here,” he said.

“It gives people hope and shows other communities it can be done. It shows the city that small things can make a big social, educational and cultural impact.”

Mr Deveci’s concept design for the centre has never changed with early computer images he created closely resembling the newly built structure.

He continued: “I’m proud and I really need to thank everyone who was involved, from small roles to big roles, the dedication of everyone.

“I have two grandchildren and I’m leaving something behind for them. An architect always loves to see that – leaving something behind that is worthwhile.”

Greyhope Bay for the community

Fiona McIntyre at the new Greyhope Bay Centre. Photo by Scott Baxter/DCT Media

The past decade has not been without challenges with Miss McIntyre saying she did get to a point where she felt it was all “too much”.

“I was told I could leave it behind but it wasn’t mine anymore, it was the community’s,” Miss McIntyre said.

“All I did from that moment was think about how I could put it down, and what I would need to put in place so somebody else could pick it back up.

“But by doing that, I started to work out what the next step was. I thought that was good advice – the community owned it by that point.

“They told us to come and build at Torry Battery. I had it all wrong at Greyhope Bay. They knew what we were supposed to be doing.”

Greyhope Bay leaning into sustainable values

Work to build the new centre officially began in September with the two 40ft containers – donated by Greenwell Equipment – put in place two months later.

“There have been challenges along the way with the nature of the site, trying to put containers up a hill in wet weather and winter starting to set in,” she added.

“Only in the last two weeks has it started to look like this and you can finally see it as it will be. That’s been really exciting.”

An exterior view of Greyhope Bay centre overlooking the sea in Torry Battery.
Visitors will be “suspended” in the view. Photo by Scott Baxter/DCT Media

Having no power at the historic monument allowed the team to lean into sustainable values but it did throw ups some extra challenges.

The centre operates completely off-grid using a hybrid energy solution, rainwater treatment technology and composting loos.

‘The cafe of my dreams’

Greyhope Bay has joined forces with The Liberty Kitchen for the centre’s cafe, which will serve fresh coffee and a range of vegan bakes.

Cafe operator, Nikki Leys, first met Miss McIntyre four years ago and they realised their projects shared the same ethos.

Nikki Leys from The Liberty Kitchen at its new home in the Greyhope Bay Centre. Photo by Scott Baxter/DCT Media

“We’ve worked really well together over the last few years to get everything into a good working space for everyone,” Ms Leys said.

“There has been a lot of juggling and conversations on what we really need and what we can do without for now.”

The Liberty Kitchen started five years ago in a horse box at the opposite end of the beach – a spot Ms Leys can now see from the Greyhope Bay Centre.

“I had a plan for the business to move into a café space within five years. And we’re now at that five-year mark, so I’m delighted.

“I knew it would be beautiful with these views but it was quite overwhelming when I first walked in. I feel incredibly lucky to be involved in this – it’s definitely the café of my dreams.”

Events for Aberdeen community

View from Greyhope Bay cafe.
The Greyhope Bay Centre has a cafe and an education and community space. Photo by Scott Baxter/DCT Media

The Greyhope Bay charity offers a programme of community events which will now be hosted from the dolphin-viewing centre.

Carole Monnier is leading the way with creating the charity’s calendar which includes supporter meetings and community coffee mornings to be held at the Torry Battery site.

A range of creative workshops will begin in May, including practical activities led by Torry-based Deemouth Artist Studios.

Ms Monnier said: “We were working in that vision phase for so long, so seeing this has been very emotional. It’s exciting to finally be in a finished space – it exceeds expectations.

“And it has the best view in Aberdeen – of the sea and the city itself.”

The Greyhope Bay Centre in Aberdeen opens on Saturday, April 9.