In June 2019 Greyhope Bay Ltd, with support from Aberdeen City Council, Historic Environment Scotland and Aberdeen Harbour, are working to bring ‘Dolphins at the Battery’, a dolphin watching, leisure and marine science facility to Torry Battery; bringing a local, historic space back into formal use for the first time in many years.
‘Dolphins at the Battery’ will serve as a first phase of Greyhope Bay’s long-term vision to deliver a world class marine experience centre and visitor attraction that will connect Aberdeen and the North East with our marine world.
Fiona McIntyre, managing director of Greyhope Bay, says, ‘Dolphins at the Battery’ is a great opportunity to deliver facility on site in the immediate whilst road testing our ideas for our long-term project. The first phase will see us create space on site that offers a unique viewing platform, exhibition space, a café and toilets allowing people to connect with our natural environment and explore an extraordinary local historic monument, Torry Battery.
‘’Torry Battery is steeped in history and we were delighted that both Aberdeen City Council and Historic Environment Scotland are keen to see it brought back to life.”
“Torry Battery overlooks one of the best dolphin viewing points in Europe and we are looking to create a building that will allow people to view this, our city, beach and bustling harbour in comfort, for the first time.”
The Project Architect Professor Gokay Deveci, based at Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, RGU working with Bryan Gray at DYNAMIX Modular, described the proposed design as “exciting news for both the city and its residents, which sees an innovatively designed autonomous temporary facility, utilising repurposed shipping containers, finished with timber cladding. Using a pre-existing structure delivers an affordable and fully recyclable unit with minimum impact on site and a ready-made canvas to build a unique window to the sea.”
“A particular thanks to RGU student Thomas Proctor who created the 3D visualisations. A significant element of the work, for both the staff and students involved here at RGU, particularly is how we can aid and deliver a positive impact to the communities in which we operate’
Planning permission for the project is currently being sought and discussions are taking place with potential funders.
Fiona McIntyre continues, ‘Aberdeen has become known, increasingly over recent years, as a great place to see dolphins and next summer has the potential to take this awareness to another level through ‘Dolphins at the ‘Battery’. It is a really exciting prospect.’
Richard Heawood, Senior Designations Officer at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Torry Battery is recognised as a nationally important Scheduled Monument which was used in the 19th and 20th centuries. These proposals form part of a long-term plan to conserve the site as well as promote and interpret Torry Battery’s historic interest to the public.”
Q & A
Q1 What happened to using Greyhope Bay?
Greyhope Bay was our chosen site to develop our vision of a world class marine science centre.
In part, it was of our belief that Torry Battery’s historic significance would make any development of the site too difficult that led to the selection of Greyhope Bay as our preferred site.
However, the feedback received through our extensive community engagement this year where many suggested that not only is Torry Battery a better site for viewing our visiting dolphins but that with a phased project there is opportunity to offer immediate and much needed facility for visitors.
We have also been greatly encouraged by Aberdeen City Council’s enthusiasm for the site to be utilised and Historic Environment Scotland’s positive reaction to our ideas.
The opportunity to bring such an historic site back to life with our exciting project was too good to miss.
Q2 Is Greyhope Bay dead?
The project is alive and well but the preferred location has moved slightly.
Q3 Will the main project’s name change?
Possibly, at some point. For now, however, our priority is the proof of concept project, that goes under that name of ‘Dolphins at theBattery’.
Q4 What will ‘Dolphins at the Battery’ comprise?
A viewing platform will be created from 2 shipping containers cladded with Scottish larch wood.Given the setting of Torry Battery, the design aim is to immerse the visitor in the landscape and the view, a design that will be sympathetic to setting whilst being a beacon on the headland, visible from Aberdeen beach and welcoming boats as they navigate in to the harbour.
A key design objective is to have a glass fronted facility taking advantage of the views and flexible indoor space that will allow for a simple café facility to serve both visitors that come indoors and those enjoying the outside space. The outside space will include decking that will act as both an accessible walkway to explore the battery, the viewing platform and will include space for outdoor seating.
- Viewing Platform
- Outdoor decking and seating
Q5 When will the new facility open?
We plan to open inJune 2019, subject to planning permission and funding. We hope that local businesses and individuals will want to get involved and support a project that will provide a wonderful resource to locals and visitors alike.
Q6 Why aren’t you going straight to the main project as originally proposed?
The Greyhope Bay Project is a very substantial, £10 million undertaking. It will require a substantial fundraising and that will be easier to achieve once we have demonstrated the potential with a temporary facility. The temporary facility does not require major capital investment (total project cost is c. £200k rather than £10m), offering the opportunity to deliver immediate action and local / regional benefit in a short-timescale
Q7 How temporary is temporary?
We are planning for the facility to be open for 3 years.
Q8 What will it cost to visit?
There will be no entry fee. Instead, there will be opportunity for visitors to make a donation using cash and card. Expected average donation is £2 per visitor.
Q9 What about RSPB Scotland’s Dolphinwatch project?
RSPB Scotland’s Dolphinwatch project has offered public viewing of bottlenose dolphins from the car park at Torry Battery since 2013 and, as of 2018, provides schools education and additional city-wide events. RSPB Dolphinwatch will continue to offer wildlife watching opportunities, information and activities at Torry Battery in 2019. Dolphinwatch is currently funded until 2020 by the ScottishPower Foundation and the Heritage Lottery Fund and operates in partnership with Whale & DolphinConservation, Aberdeen City Council and the Aberdeen Harbour Board.
Q10 What is the relationship between RSPB Scotland’s Dolphinwatch and Dolphins at the Battery?
Currently,they are independent initiatives but we look forward to having discussions with RSPB Scotland about how we can work closely together.”
With the help of so many who have resonated with this ambition (namely our architect and unofficial co-founder Gokay Deveci, the Greyhope Bay board and project team, numerous volunteers, incredible sponsors and donors, supporting organisations and the Aberdeen community) we have achieved so much…
- gala dinners on the beach (crazy that we actually pulled that off – shout out to Kelsey Gocke!)
- over 3,000 people visiting our marquee by the sea (incredible when on that day the harr sullied the view…)
- ambitious concept designs for a build with meaning, set in to the landscape and connecting to our coast
- a pop-up shop and exhibition at the Bon Accord Shopping Centre (designed and delivered with the help and input of 15 students and another 20 volunteers)
- business plans and planning surveys, stakeholder buy-in and support
- community ownership
All of which has led and informed our strategy to open on site the first phase of the project in 2019 with a wildlife watching platform and cafe as a unique opportunity to provide immediate facility, engage communities, test ideas and build audience.
As we continue to push forward I will be writing a blog post every two weeks about my experience running the project and trying to get Greyhope Bay off the ground – highs and lows.
Tune in and buckle up friends!