Fraserburgh student graduates with distinction

Neil in front of part of his final MArch Degree Show display
Neil in front of part of his final MArch Degree Show display

Six long years of hard work and effort at university have paid off for a former Fraserburgh Academy student.

Having recently completed the challenging RIBA-accredited Architecture course at Robert Gordon University, Neil Mair graduated with an MArch, Master of Architecture, degree with Distinction, building on his previous BSc degree in Architecture which he also obtained with distinction in 2015.

Over the past two years, Neil (23), worked on a masterplan for the Highland town of Aviemore which looked to ensure its continued relevance, growth, and success as a strong service centre throughout the 21st century.

The plan was taken to the Cairngorms National Park authority to engage planners and local stakeholders and was also presented at the annual RIAS International Convention and nominated for a national Urban Design Award.

Within the Aviemore masterplan, Neil designed a new social hub for the town, where locals and visitors could come to eat, drink and socialise. Neil’s ‘food centre’ aimed to embed food and drink as part of the Cairngorms visitor experience, improve collaboration between producers and suppliers and facilitate better distribution and retailing, and enable opportunities for better community engagement and food education.

The food complex incorporated a market hall, street food hall, cookery school, and serviced apartments.

Neil commented: “Founded on the principles of order and grid in the form of two linear volumes, the project seeks to establish a sense of legibility within the existing disorder of Aviemore. It also facilitates a system of frame and infill to provide a degree of adaptability for future contingencies of use, given the rapid change experienced by the settlement in the past, and the demonstrable inability of its building stock to cope with such change.

“Each of the two buildings were developed to reflect the nature of the uses they house. The market was developed as an entirely open entity, to reflect ideas of openness, light, and transparency associated with traditional market hall structures, and the need for visibility of the products available for sale there.

"The main building, housing the food hall, cookery school, and apartments, is a more cellular entity, to reflect ideas of warmth and shelter as a place in which people might dwell or spend time within.”

Neil was recognised for his MArch work through a range of different awards and prizes, including the Aberdeen Society of Architects Medal Award, the Harbourne McLennan Prize for Professional Practice, and an RGU Art & Heritage Collections Award which will see his work join a growing archive of material representing talented graduates.

Separately, Neil’s dissertation, which examined the effect of political ideology on architecture in Berlin over the past century, was chosen by a reputed international publisher to be printed as a monograph in 2018.

Building on 18 months of professional practice spent there previously, Neil will be returning to Comprehensive Design Architects (CDA) in their Edinburgh office later in the year to work.