ASA Silver Medal awarded to project celebrating Aberdeen's links to North Sea

Thursday 27 June 2024

Image shows interior of 'Rigged', designed by Master of Architecture student, Obiajulu Umeji
A student from the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment has won the Aberdeen Association of Architects Silver Medal 2024 for designing an innovative building called ‘Rigged’ made from recycled oil rigs.

Master of Architecture student, Obiajulu Umeji who graduates from the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment this summer, has designed a museum called ‘Rigged’ that celebrates Aberdeen’s industrial heritage and its relationship with the North Sea.

The building would be situated in Aberdeen’s historic harbour and 90% 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.

‘Rigged’ is described as being a beacon of environmental and social sustainability and reflects Aberdeen’s commitment to a greener future. It would represent more than a structure; and would instead by a testament to the city’s resilience and innovative spirit, enriching Aberdeen’s cultural landscape for generations to come.

Upon winning the award, Master of Architecture student, Obiajulu Umeji who lives in Aberdeen and is from Nigeria, said: “Rigged embodies a compelling response to the global climate emergency, repurposing end-of-life offshore industrial assets to address sustainability challenges. By integrating these structures into new constructions, I hope to emphasize 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."


Neil Lamb, Lecturer at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment, said: “Obiajulu’s project symbolises the drive towards energy transition. Located in the city centre of Europe’s oil capital, it is a project designed to make people stop and think about their relationship with our sea, the North Sea in particular.

“The project creates a new attraction, where people can learn about our relationship with the sea in the past, present and in the future. It symbolises a need for change while pointing the way to a more sustainable future for our area. It stands as a testimonial to what has been and what may come if we do not act and address the climate emergency.

“It would be a striking addition to the city centre, offering an exciting new tourist attraction that beautifully intertwines Aberdeen’s rich history with its promising future. The design not only honours Aberdeen’s legacy as Europe’s oil and gas capital but also exemplifies a visionary shift towards a sustainable, green energy future. This project is a testament to the city's resilience and forward-thinking spirit, showcasing how we can repurpose industrial heritage into a source of education, inspiration, and community pride to enrich Aberdeen's cultural landscape for generations to come.”

David Vila Domini, Course leader in Architecture, added: “We are delighted that Obiajulu has been recognised for his final master’s project. The quality of the design work in this year’s Master of Architecture studio has been very high and highly relevant with many projects tackling issues of societal importance such as environmental and social sustainability.   I’d encourage members of the public to come and see for themselves all the amazing work at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment End of Year Show that's on show at RGU’s Garthdee campus until the end of August.”

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.

Andrew McNair, President of the Aberdeen Society of Architects explains why the ASA awarded Obiajulu Umeji's masters project, 'Rigged' a Silver Medal. He 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 & Awards in March next year.

The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & 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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