Ross Aitchison is a graduate of Edinburgh College of Art currently attaining a Masters in Architecture at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). He completed his Part One in Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art in June 2010. During his time at Edinburgh College of Art he was recognised with several awards for his design projects including his third year scheme for a Museum of Dundee Life.
Working in collaboration with other architects and artists Ross has built up a body of work which engages with issues as diverse as memory, post-industrial development, public engagement and small scale residential. Recent work includes a collaboration with Senan Killeen and Callum Kellie which produced a temporary cardboard pavilion and film outlining life in a new town on the outskirts of Aberdeen. Most recently a trip to Iceland resulted in a refined response to social change in Reykjavik which offers a subtle intervention into the fabric of the cities harbour, celebrating the importance of fish in an almost temple like space.
Having grown up and studied in the years since devolution Ross sees endless possibilities in how architecture can help to improve the lives of those around him as well as participating in the debate over Scotland’s constitutional future.
“Architecture is uniquely positioned to engage in all aspects of life. It can help to counter fuel poverty and social deprivation; can tackle feelings of insecurity and provide safer environments for our children; challenge our perceptions of how we grow old and how we treat those on the margins of society; and it can go some way to minimise the effects of climate change. Architecture can also shape the feeling of a nation, by engendering a sense of place and belonging, by taking lessons from our history and providing visions for our future. Having a government in Edinburgh which values the role of architecture in society has strengthened the profession in Scotland and to some extent slowed the drain of talent to the bright lights of London. I want to be part of a future architectural profession that builds on the immense progress since devolution, where we have seen strong responses to Scotland’s rich built heritage, and continue to develop a new voice for the way our environment is shaped.”
His architectural ideas are consistently shaped by the images indelibility marked in his mind from trips around Scotland, particularly his home territory of Aberdeenshire and the Borders fishing town of Eyemouth. Using simple form, materials and light his work is consistently rooted in its context and reflective of the surroundings which form it. A strong desire to see social justice formed through the strong Scottish characteristics of innovation, fairness and warmth has led Ross to see independence as the only route to a better Scotland.
“I support an independent Scotland not because I am a nationalist but because I aspire to a fairer, more democratic country than the UK can offer us. We have witnessed a growing consensus in Britain’s political elite for right-of-centre governance that is no longer in tune with the wishes of the people of Scotland. We have learned that we cannot rely on the political children of Thatcher and Blair to deliver the 21st century Scotland we desire. Thankfully I, like many others, have been fortunate to grow up in the years of a devolved government in which the worst excesses of Westminster rule have been avoided.
“The idea of home rule no longer holds fear amongst my generation who are beginning to question why a representative parliament who can make independent decisions on the state of our health, education and justice are somehow uniquely incapable of developing a new way to tackle our welfare, defence, economic and energy challenges.
“The referendum offers us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Scotland as part of Britain’s shared experience, but more importantly provides the opportunity to reshape our nation into one which rids itself of child poverty and nuclear weapons, protects the most vulnerable of our peers and shares with the world a vision of a greener, safer society. This can only be achieved by making decisions for Scotland, in Scotland, by the people of Scotland.
“National Collective offers a unique vision of a culturally engaged Scotland that aspires for something better and can play a significant role in framing the debate in the run up to 2014.”
Show and Tell, Westhill
A project commissioned by the Westhill Art Project and led by Ross Aitchison in collaboration with Senan Killeen and Callum Kellie.
Taking place at the Westhill Gala, Aberdeenshire on Saturday 4th June, the artists asked members of the community to reflect on what life in Westhill has meant to their past and present and also to envisage their and Westhill’s future.
The project provoked a strong sense of engagement by asking the residents about Westhill, rather than imposing an interpretation of life in the town.
Brewing & Bathing, Nuuk
The Nuuk Brewhouse carries the nature of Greenland through its process to its result. Ingredients plucked from the icy waters of Nuup Kangerlua, the grain generated through the power of the fresh waters of Nuuk, the handcraft of the Inuit people. A beer that takes you on a journey to the heart of Greenland with every drop.
Every bottle of beer contains up to seven bottles of water. Greenland carries around twenty percent of the world’s fresh water reserves. A beer encapsulating the enduring characteristics of the Greenlandic landscape; ice, purity, light, and power. Greenland is a unique island perched atop the globe, its land covered by snow and ice, its people huddled together out of the harshness of the power of nature.
- A small scale interventions within an Arctic landscape (urban, suburban and rural).
- Micro-economic schemes to provide employment and export opportunities.
- Creation of new economies based upon local craft and skill, coupled with modern technology to create up market produce.
- Acting within parameters of an isolated island community reliant upon imports for survival.
Museum of Dundee Life, Dundee
Dundee is a city on the edge of despair with yet more dreams of renewal ahead of it. A city of rich industrial heritage has apparently lost its way. The once wondrous waterfront of clippers, smoke and sound wiped away in the name of progress. Under a 1960s dream of highways and walkways in the sky. The once beating heart of the city, a vital cog in the machine of the Empire through deprivation has its rhythm.
I propose that as a tonic for Dundee, as a call for renewal, a Museum of Dundee Life, which acquires its past and its present, which collects the remnants of the waterfront and unites yesterday, today and tomorrow to find a new place on the river. A place to discover amongst the stable ruins of the dreams of the 1960s. A place found between the forgotten dock walls. A place amongst a new thriving eco system reclaiming the land that once belonged to the river. A place for Dundee.
To see more of Ross’s work visit his new website at www.edgeplaces.eu