RGU students put forward ideas for a Flood Resilience Institute in Stonehaven

Friday 28 June 2024

Students at Robert Gordon University have put forward conceptual ideas to establish a Flood Resilience Institute in Stonehaven to protect the community from flooding, as part of their academic studies.

Academics from the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment have proposed the conceptual idea, working with their students to create a ‘flood defence hub’ that would be part of a network of similar hubs around the UK coastline.

The Flood Defence Institute would serve as a central point for local communities, where they could find out ways to reduce their flood risk, and support in the event of future flooding.

The recommendation, led by Principal Lecturer Neil Lamb and visiting Professor Bill Black (Director of Richard Murphy Architects), as part of the Master of Architecture program, was presented to officers from Aberdeenshire Council who welcomed an opportunity to see the students work.

As part of the project, the team from the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment have also put forward theoretical proposals to establish a new waterfront area in Stonehaven, that would complement beachfront flood defences and be more flood resilient.

The newly designed waterfront could help combat rising sea levels, which are anticipated to increase exponentially as climate change bites. As part of the conceptual proposals, large flood sumps were utilised, to collect flood waters from the Rivers Cowie and Carron, along with excess rainfall on the hills, which may engorge the rivers.

Principle lecturer, Neil Lamb, who is leading the project, said: “In Stonehaven, you've got problems resulting from sea level rises related to Antarctic glacier melt but you’ve also got the convergence of two rivers – the Cowie and the Carron – which results in a real flood problem.

“The impact of flooding to people property, industry as well as to community facilities, utilities, the transport network, and agricultural land has been extensive in Stonehaven over many years and sadly this risk is not going to go away.

“We need to get ahead of the game, so that we can offer the community of Stonehaven a sustainable solution to protect the town from flooding and the worst ravages of climate change. It’s about information, preparation, and prevention. It’s about thinking about flood vigilance and complementing existing flood defences, to protect against future floods. When the flood comes it is already too late, we need to take collective action now. Only by investing in a sustainable solution, can we offer a more resilient future for the people of Stonehaven.

“The proposal would of course require a substantial investment and of course with a high percentage of cities and population being located near coastlines, this is not a unique problem. Any investment needs to work hard, and our students have included new ideas to enhance the beachfront in Stonehaven. A place for people; a place to live, work and play and to create more tourist opportunities as we look to a sustainable future.”


Leez Almeida from India, is one of the Master of Architecture Scott Sutherland students involved with the project. 

Leez explains more; "The Flood Resilience Centre is designed as a beacon of safety and innovation. The center would enhance community resilience against flooding, while also serving as a hub for research and education on flood management and environmental sustainability.

"The project showcases adaptive use of space, energy-efficient systems, and materials that would ensure longevity and reduce carbon footprint. This would set a new standard for responsible coastal development. In my design, I incorporate a geothermal ground source heat pump system for heating and cooling, high-performance insulation, and solar panels, to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. The facade features durable metal cladding and continuous glazed walls with metal louvers,  to enhance energy efficiency and ventilation."

Cheryl Roberts Historic Environment Team Leader from Aberdeenshire Council said:

“It was great for members of the Historic Environment Team and Development Management to have the opportunity to view the projects the students had been working on. It was inspiring to see the creative ways they had ‘designed in’ solutions to their masterplans, that help address housing need whilst taking account of the challenges a changing climate can have on our coastal settlements.”  

“The idea of creating a flood defence hub and turning the more negative aspects of coastal living into a positive regeneration tool was an interesting idea to develop.”

“This was a great opportunity for Aberdeenshire Council and students at RGU to come together and discuss the students work and is hopefully a relationship that can continue in to the future”.

More information on the project is on display at the Scott Sutherland School End of Year Show, based at the Scott Sutherland School, Sir Ian Wood Building, RGU Garthdee campus until the end of August.

Main image from Stonehaven Defence Project by Master of Architecture student Michael McEwan.

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