Fears of crumbling concrete forces UoA buildings to close ahead of term
Updated: Aug 14
University hopes that parts of the Headspace building at Hillhead will reopen this autumn
By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco
The main entrance of the Headspace building remains closed.
Photo Credit: Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco
Several months after inspections discovered the presence of a potentially dangerous form of concrete in three University of Aberdeen buildings, work continues to reopen the sites.
Lightweight concrete could lead to roof collapses
Potential dangers have emerged surrounding buildings constructed using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a lightweight form of concrete which is less durable and more prone to collapse than other types.
The material is believed to have been used in thousands of government and public sector buildings between the 1950s and 1980s.
After carrying out an estate wide assessment in late May, inspectors determined the presence of RAAC in three UoA buildings: Regent, Polwarth West Block (at Foresterhill), and Hillhead Headspace.
Regent Building to reopen
The University has confirmed that Regent Lecture Theatre will reopen in time for the autumn term.
A UoA spokesperson said: ‘Following the identification of RAAC within University buildings a huge amount of work has taken place to reopen spaces where it is safe and possible to do so, including the Regent Lecture Theatre and ground floor office and learning space within the Regent Building.’
However, the spokesperson also confirmed that the west block of the Polwarth Building, located at UoA’s Medical Campus in Foresterhill, will not reopen during the 2023-2024 academic year.
Staff asked for ‘patience’ as ‘knock-on impacts' expected
In an online update, staff were told: ‘... Work is underway to identify alternative teaching locations for bookings in Polwarth. Prioritisation will be necessary to identify elements of medical teaching which must be accommodated at Foresterhill. However, knock-on impacts are unavoidable as re-timetabling takes place, and the patience and assistance of colleagues is requested.’
Hillhead Headspace to remain closed- for now
Additionally, Hillhead’s Headspace Building, which houses The Works Bar and Restaurant, a Co-Op market, and various communal spaces, will remain closed- at least initially.
The spokesperson told The Gaudie: ‘Work continues to develop solutions for other impacted buildings and we plan to reopen some lower ground areas of Headspace at Hillhead Student Village next term. In the meantime, most services and facilities affected by the closure have been relocated elsewhere.’
Upon visiting Headspace last week, our reporter was greeted by plastic barricades preventing entrance to the site.
A sign read: ‘Reception is now located at New Carnegie Court.’
It is unclear which areas of Headspace will be reopened next term, and when.
The spokesperson added: ‘At this stage it is not possible to confirm when remedial works can be commenced or how long these will take. However, we have been working with service users to minimise disruption to student and staff activities and will continue to take a precautionary approach as we seek the best possible outcome for our University community.'