A New Era of STEM Education for Aberdeen

A New Era of STEM Education for Aberdeen

4 Nov 2020

On Wednesday November 4th 2020, Aberdeen’s Science Centre reopens its doors following an extensive refurbishment. Formerly known as Satrosphere, the new centre, based in the landmark Tramsheds building on Constitution Street, gives Aberdeen a state-of-the-art science education facility and visitor attraction to rival those in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.

At Halliday Fraser Munro, we’re terrifically proud to have led the project team creating this new flagship visitor attraction. Satrosphere was Scotland’s first dedicated science centre and occupied a special place in the heart of a city famous for its rich history in science and technology.

Transforming the space so that it could meet the requirements of a 21st century science centre was a fascinating challenge, especially working within the constraints of a treasured granite building. Celebrating the original character of the building was a key goal of the project and had a strong bearing on our design decisions. With all such projects, older buildings have a tendency to present unexpected problems so we carried out extensive scoping surveys ahead of the project to maximise cost-certainty.

Our design included the creation of a mezzanine floor which, effectively, doubled the floor area of the centre and we created an extension providing educational and storage facilities. A new roof was introduced allowing natural light to flood the upper space but was engineered a way which allowed us to retain the original cast iron and timber trusses, maintaining a key aspect of the building’s character. The façade was restored using traditional lime mortar and the roof over the offices was replaced using slates selected to match the originals.

A new, T-shaped, feature staircase leading to the new mezzanine floor was designed to enhance visitor-flow through the centre and allow natural light through to the lower level.  New escape stairs were added and the lifts were upgraded along with additional access facilities to ensure the building complies fully with the latest DDA requirements. We also created an adult changing room to earn the centre Changing Places accreditation. Refurbished café and reception areas were designed to complete the visitor experience.

The £6 million redevelopment was supported and funded by the Inspiring Science Fund – a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK Research and Innovation, Wellcome, Opportunity North East and Aberdeenshire Council.

It’s been a huge privilege to work with them, creating a real asset for the North East that will promote the key priorities of the STEM agenda for both education and industry. Already the newly expanded space has attracted a further £600,000 investment from energy training body OPITO to create an immersive energy theatre at the centre.

It will be hugely rewarding for us, as a practice, to see the public interacting with the displays, exhibits and demonstrations in the unique space we have helped to create. We look forward to seeing a new generation of innovators inspired by their experiences there.

The new Aberdeen Science Centre was successfully delivered by our Retail & Leisure experts. You can find out about other high-profile projects we've recently delivered on our 'Projects' page.