An architect has revealed an alternative vision for Rubislaw Quarry in Aberdeen – combining the region’s “history of granite with its more modern history of oil and gas”.
George Simpson, from Oldmeldrum, has released a rough sketch of his vision, which involves recycling an oil rig and transforming it into a visitor attraction made up of a museum, underwater restaurants and diving bell trips.
The proposal has been revealed just days before Canadian developer Carttera’s £68 million project to create 299 flats, a gym for residents and a “mini-museum” on the northern edge of the historic site goes before the city council’s planning committee.
The real estate firm’s planned development – which could be up to 10 storeys high – has received backing from council officers and the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, however it has also received more than 250 objections.
Mr Simpson believes the flat proposals would be “inappropriate” , and that other plans by businessman Hugh Black do not “maximise the opportunity” offered by the historic quarry, which gave the Granite City its name.
He said: “I see this perhaps as an outreach facility of the UK Science Museum, which would include the history of the granite and oil industries.
“The site and the form of the structure could provide some very interesting features including underwater lighting to show the entire quarry, an underwater observation deck with bars/restaurants accessed from the pontoon plaza, underwater demonstrations of North Sea operations in a controlled environment, and maybe a passenger diving bell.
“Finances would of course be a major issue involving UK and Scottish Governments, lottery funding, council grants and industry sponsors.”
But he added: “We’ve got a really unique asset here, and if we can combine Aberdeen’s history of granite with its more modern history of oil and gas, we could create something really special that could be a huge tourist draw, especially with the cruise liners we’re hoping to attract in the future.
“People see the V&A in Dundee, and ask why can the north-east not get the same treatment?
“This is a conversation which should be started now, and I am sure it would be a great benefit if others were to join this conversation.”
Last night, Mr Black said: “I can understand Mr Simpson’s frustration that we aren’t fully utilising the space, but if the powers that be are not allowing us to build a heritage centre I think his plans for this are very questionable.
“But it is a great idea and I fully commend him for it.”