Old Aberdeen's architectural 'gems' showcased in new app

Old Aberdeen's architectural 'gems' showcased in new app

Old Aberdeen is often seen as the city's hidden gem but now its highlights will be brought to life through a new app developed by the University of Aberdeen.

The historic and picturesque area around the historic King’s College is one of the most visited parts of North East Scotland.

It has been extensively studied by academics from the University of Aberdeen and a number of recent publications explore different aspects of this unique and well-loved area but little is readily available to visitors wanting to know more about the area when they arrive.

To address this, researchers at the University were awarded funds by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to translate the interesting findings of these books into a more user-friendly format to guide visitors around the area.

They have now launched the ‘Discover Old Aberdeen’ app, available for iphone, android and tablet devices.

It takes users on a guided’ journey’ around Old Aberdeen’s buildings and landmarks including King’s College Chapel, Elphinstone Hall, the Mercat Cross, and the Mitchell Hospital.

The app also includes an interactive map which guides users around the area from the High Street and College Bounds to the Chanonry and Cruickshank Botanical Gardens.

Professor Jane Geddes, a senior lecturer in the History of Art, led the project alongside the University’s Public Engagement with Research team (PERU).

Professor Geddes said: “Old Aberdeen has a fascinating architectural history and if its walls could speak they would have quite a story to tell. Hidden in the University and City archives are 500 years of history about Old Aberdeen, its stones and its people.

“This handy app will allow visitors to understand so much more of what they see. It aims not just to tell the story but to teach viewers how to look at architecture and appreciate the rich texture of the granite buildings. It is easy to take the charm of Old Aberdeen for granted, but with the help of the ‘Discover Old Aberdeen’ app the details of the stone work will take on new meaning.”

The app was trialled at this year’s May Festival, where walking tours around the campus were fully booked. It has already been downloaded more than 300 times ahead of its official launch.

Chris Croly from the University’s Public Engagement with Research team (PERU) said feedback from the Festival demonstrated the interest in the area and the need to provide better information for visitors.

“Every walking tour was booked early at the May Festival with scores more people looking for tickets to join,” he said.

“We know that King’s College campus is a real draw for visitors who are often beguiled by the unique urban landscape of the University and Old Aberdeen. What they don’t have access to is a proper interpretation of this area.

“We have created 360 degree tours and easily accessible information about the buildings and landmarks to fill this gap and provide visitors with an insight into the history and heritage of the area. This app will let tourists and locals alike explore the area and explore the interior of buildings which may not be open. It’s a great way to make buildings and research accessible.’

The Discover Old Aberdeen app is now available to download on smart phones and tablets and is free of charge. The app was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Grants programme. The grant has helped the University of Aberdeen to engage new audiences in a digital way with the latest research into the history and heritage of Old Aberdeen and King’s College Campus.