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Peacock pavilion to become the pride of new Queensgate

May 17 2005

A project that will radically alter the appearance of Aberdeen’s old city centre is one of the projects to be awarded Scottish Arts Council National Lottery funding. The Peacock Visual Arts Centre is planning to move to a pavilion in the centre of the Queensgate Square whilst upgrading its current workshop facilities in a back-street nearby. According to Lindsay Gordon, director of Peacock Visual Arts, the centre will be “a world-class piece of contemporary architecture in the middle of one of the oldest, historic squares of its kind in Europe.”
A feasibility study by Reiach and Hall proposes that the Mercat Cross is removed and replaced with a sunken pavllion, although Gordon stresses that the Cross was only moved to its current site at the end of the nineteenth century, he admits that his main task now is “enlisting the support of the wider public.”
It will, he admitted “significantly alter what is currently one of the picture postcard images of Aberdeen, as you look down Union Street across the Castlegate and on to the Citadel.” It will also require the removal of a 12th Century Mercat Cross. Although no plans have been submitted yet, City Council planners say they have no objections in principle.
It is the latest extraordinary twist in the Peacock’s long search for a new home. Since 1998, Peacock has been looking for venues to provide public access to a shared printmaking facility. In 2001, the Salvation Army decided to move out of a building on the Square itself but the deal fell through when the Sally decided not to sell. A subsequent deal with University of Aberdeen for a joint artistic-academic venture fell through when the Student Union was sold for development. Peacock’s third proposal, which has received £75,000 from the Scottish Arts Council towards design, planning and the business development costs, will be submittted for a Stage II application in two years. The budget for the building is currently at £10 million although the organisation hopes to raise more money from the private sector. “The oil industry have never been given the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the cultural life of Aberdeen. With oil selling at around $55 a barrel at the moment, this would be a good time. I hope we can get more than our target,” said Gordon.
For the last two years however, the role of architecture and public arts has been a major topic at the centre, a large number of PVA’s artistic residencies being devoted to the subject.

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