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Landin in Scotland In praise of Granite City’s architects

ABERDEEN is, Jonathan Meades contended in his 2009 BBC series Off Kilter, architecturally unique. Not simply because of its reputation as the Granite City, but because of granite’s refusal to weather.

We therefore see — often side by side — buildings of totally different architectural movements in a condition near original.

The most famous example is of course the Marischal College, which now serves as the city council’s HQ. The second-largest granite building in the world, it is a masterpiece of Gothic revival unlike any other.

Head outwards and the spectacle does not abate. The Gallowgate estate, built in 1966 by the city’s in-house architects department, for instance. These concrete slabs resemble many of the finest examples of modernist housing, but the granite freezes — in a kind of giant pebbledash — make them distinctly Aberdonian.

Keep going and you’ll reach the Northern Hotel. There are, as Ian Nairn put it, many ways to heaven. But there must surely be a special place for the heroes who brought art deco to the Granite City.

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