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Award-winning museum design celebrates north-east connection with oil and gas industry

By Alan Beresford

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A visualisation of the interior of the award-winning 'Rigged' design.
A visualisation of the interior of the award-winning 'Rigged' design.

THE north-east’s enduring connection to the offshore industry is celebrated in a new award-winning museum design.

Master of Architecture student, Obiajulu Umeji from Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment has won the Aberdeen Association of Architects Silver Medal 2024 for designing an innovative building called ‘Rigged’ made from recycled oil rigs.

The building would be situated in Aberdeen’s historic harbour and 90 per cent of it would be crafted from recycled oil rigs, including oil rigs that are, or are about to be, decommissioned. The project would draw energy from the harbour, hydrogen and wind from the North Sea, showcasing a pioneering approach to green energy.

Visitors would be able to learn and explore the rich and diverse history of the sea, its varied ecosystems, and our exploitation of its resources.

Masters of Architecture student Obiajulu Umeji.
Masters of Architecture student Obiajulu Umeji.

Mr Umeji, who lives in Aberdeen and is from Nigeria, said: “‘Rigged’ embodies a compelling response to the global climate emergency, re-purposing end-of-life offshore industrial assets to address sustainability challenges.

“By integrating these structures into new constructions, I hope to emphasise the inherent qualities of the recycled oil rigs, creating artistic and architectural pieces that highlight the beauty of reclaimed materials. My goal is to preserve cultural significance, promote sustainability, drive economic development, and cultivate vibrant public spaces."

The Aberdeen Society of Architects (ASA) reviewed the projects at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture Final Year show and said they were impressed by the quality and diversity of work presented.

Commenting on Mr Umeji's project, 'Rigged', Andrew McNair, President of the Aberdeen Society of Architects said: “The committee agreed the concept of reusing the structure of an oil rig as a method of construction was an artistic celebration of Aberdeen.

“Integrating the former industrial structure into a new build construction is an innovative proposal for demobilisation.

“The exposed primary structure is architecturally iconic and would be a constant reminder of Aberdeen’s contribution to the energy sector, particularly within the relevant harbour setting.”

Two other students were commended for the ASA Silver Medal including master’s student, Rachel Gray, for her work ‘Homegrown’ based in Finstown, Orkney that aims to reduce the carbon impact of the construction industry by advocating the use of locally available and biogenic materials, such as straw, hemp, clay, and stone within the built environment.

Kerr Arnold was also commended for the ASA Silver Medal for his work ‘Living Behind the Façade’ that included a project with movable screens and fluctuating facades, to protect against the ever-changing seascape that the building is next to.

A formal presentation will be held as part of the ASA Annual Dinner and Awards in March next year.

The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment’s End of Year Show remains on display in departmental building in the Sir Ian Wood Building at RGU’s Garthdee campus until August.

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