Putting Aberdeen on the map
Aberdeen is famous around the world for its role in the UK oil industry, but its Council – keen to broaden the city’s economic offering and improve its facilities, sought to establish a modern entertainment and conference venue whilst also leading the way in the delivery of clean energy as the population’s reliance on oil reduces.
The city’s existing conference centre was tired, and there was a real opportunity to reinvent the offer by creating a bold new, highly sustainable venue to attract global businesses.
Cue HBD’s appointment as developer for the project in 2012. Initially the Council’s brief was to create a conference and exhibition centre however, HBD believed there was a better way to realise their ambitions and developed the concept of a combined arena for live music and special events with first class exhibition and conference facilities.
As a forward-thinking Council, Aberdeen wanted to raise the bar in terms of the city’s conference and exhibition offer but also in delivering clean energy to meet the Council’s ambitious net zero targets both now and in the future.
Attracting global events
Glasgow and Edinburgh had always been in the limelight when it came to Scotland’s cultural and entertainment offer and if Aberdeen was going to give them a run for their money, it was clear that something truly unforgettable would be needed.
Early in the process HBD carried out market research and identified that the appeal should be widened to also capture entertainment events in an arena setting. HBD progressed the design work and proposed the creation of a multi-faceted venue with environmental innovation at its core.
Seeing the economic value the scheme would bring to the city, the Council bought into the proposals and work started on site in July 2016.
Beyond oil to a clean energy future
Aberdeen Council is acutely aware of the finite lifespan of oil and the need to embrace more sustainable energy technology, in fact the Council’s aim is to become known as the UK’s Energy Capital.
This ambition was central to the design of the scheme and in fact one of Europe’s largest Hydrogen Fuel cells is included in an on-site Energy Centre, powered by biogas from an anaerobic digestion plant which receives food waste from Aberdeen and surrounding areas. This provides heating and cooling power and excess energy is exported to the grid.
Responding to Aberdeen’s landscape
The design of the buildings evolved as a response to Aberdeen’s undulating surroundings, with the final concept being a series of ‘ripples in the landscape’. The building was designed to provide a range of flexible spaces comprising a multi-purpose arena that provides flexibility to host a large range of exhibition, entertainment and sporting events, a multipurpose sub-divisible exhibition hall, and a range of conference facilities.
A continuous concourse connects all public functions, creating the possibility to use the building for simultaneous performances or events. This route becomes a journey featuring merchandise units, bars and food & beverage units activating the ground floor concourse. This animated frontage will be viewed from the external Central Square through the main façade, and dramatic, transparent main entrance.
The construction also required very high specifications to meet significant acoustic criteria. The result is a contemporary landmark that brings geometry and the Aberdeenshire landscape together.
Delivered in partnership
HBD drew on its strong relationships and expansive resources to deliver TECA on programme and to budget; working with Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen University and Robertson Group – a great example of a truly effective public private sector partnership.
Robertson Group is one of Scotland’s largest and best-known contractors an they shared HBD’s values and vision for TECA from the outset.
HBD also tested the acoustics, bringing in London-based specialist Vanguard to help perfect the venue architecture and acoustic balance.
A bright future for Aberdeen
Today HBD is known as P&J Live – a jewel in the city’s crown that will provide major economic benefits for generations to come. A phenomenal structure, it now stands 30.5 metres high, 418 metres long, with seats that would stretch a distance of 6,000 metres if placed end to end. In 2023, Lewis Capaldi well and truly put the venue on the map, breaking the record for the highest selling indoor show ever held in Scotland.
This development is already having a positive impact on Aberdeen and in Scotland; HBD is proud to have played its part.