Drawn North Virtual Architecture Exhibition – Sophia’s Experience

Architecture student Sophia Rusinova writes about her experience of working on the Drawn North Virtual Architecture Exhibition. Find out how she worked as part of a virtual team to get the exhibition live.

What was your final year project on?

Before flooding - Drawn North Virtual Architecture Exhibition
Before flooding – Drawn North Virtual Architecture Exhibition

Aberdeen’s waterfront is a landmark and an asset to the city. It has large potential for development. As a team, we carried out substantial research and design to develop a greater understanding of Aberdeen as a whole.

A vision labelled ‘the Living Edge’ was the outcome of the research. It was an architectural response to define the boundaries between the urban and the natural environment in Aberdeen. We used it as a method of connectivity. It also has the wider benefit of protecting our coastline and our city for the future.

The £2 billion transformation of Aberdeen Waterfont spans 220 hectares from Donmouth to the harbour. It will follow a thirty-year delivery plan to implement a new sea defence system. It will bring new tourism to Aberdeen and provide people with a sense of belonging.

A series of design strategies have been proposed across the site as a means of connecting the city and sea. We have done this through enhanced permeability through green routes that promote healthy living for the betterment of our people.

How did you become involved in the Drawn North project?

I was originally involved in The Living Edge urban scheme, which is currently a part of Drawn North, the virtual architecture exhibition. My team took on the Living Edge urban scheme and redeveloped the Aberdeen Waterfront masterplan.

We all had our individual projects within this. We decided to combine our studio colleagues’ projects into one big urban system and pitch it as an actual project for the Aberdeen Waterfront. We joined hands with the other studio that created the Orkney redevelopment and had one combined virtual architecture exhibition under the name Drawn North.

What did you think about the virtual architecture exhibition idea initially?

After flooding - Drawn North Virtual Architecture Exhibition
After flooding – Drawn North Virtual Architecture Exhibition

Initially, I was unsure about being part of the Drawn North project as I had a strong interest in other creative areas at that time. However, a project such as this provides many technical and creative opportunities. I believed that it would be challenging and interesting. I was curious. I was sure that it would allow a degree of creative freedom and an opportunity to work with people I enjoy.

How was it working as part of a team, virtually?

Working as a team is fun and challenging when you and the people you work with have a certain chemistry. When it comes to virtual teamwork, communication at the right time is the most important thing. Experiences like this can help you develop skills in managing tasks, time and people.

Our team had skillsets that were overlapping but at the same time, very different. This was great because each of us were able to take on different activities, while having the basic understanding of what everyone else is doing.

Sophia Rusinova, MArch graduate at RGU

My colleagues and I have known each other for six years and this was a big advantage. We knew each others’ strength and weaknesses and supported one another throughout the project.

How was it working with Aberdeen Art Gallery and Pier?

It was great to work with Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Pier. It made our project experience very real. It provided accreditation to our creative work and helped it become recognised by the public.

The staff at the galleries were very helpful. What made us most happy as a team, was discussions about future collaborations and initiatives. It was great to get their input. It was a good experience to communicate with institutions external to the university in relation to this student-driven project like this.

Sophia Rusinova, MArch graduate at RGU

It was unfortunate that we could create a physical exhibition because of the pandemic, but it gave us the opportunity to create the same experience through virtual means. It made the exhibition easily accessible, locally and internationally.

Did you learn any new skills, if so what?

As with every project, I have learned new skills and improved my existing ones. The biggest challenge with this project was the scale. To present all the information we had, virtually and in a intriguing way, was challenging. We had to deal with it not just a concept, but as a detailed design and a business plan.

I learnt how to use new software and digital tools through this project. I had the opportunity to collaborate with external professionals and created a real business and marketing plan.

Sophia Rusinova, MArch graduate at RGU

Are you happy with how it turned out?

Yes, I am very happy with how the project turned out. Of course, there is always more that could have been done. When you develop creative work, the opportunities are endless. Taking into account the resources available at the time and the scale and complexity of the project, I think we achieved a really good outcome.

We, as a team have been receiving a lot of praise and positive feedback. We are enjoying every bit of it. We learned a lot. We succeeded in many things and of course, made mistakes. There are ones we know about and one we are yet to discover. But we have learnt from it and will continue learn; that’s the most important part.

Sophia Rusinova, MArch graduate at RGU

What are you doing now?

I graduated in 2020 with my Master’s in Architecture at RGU. After working for few months and co-creating the Drawn North Exhibition, I decided to take some creative time for myself. I plan to save some money and explore the fields in which I want to continue my career. From a professional point of view, I have been researching companies, countries and jobs. I am carefully selecting where to apply and what my next steps would be, while doing some freelance work.

Find out more about the virtual architecture exhibition and view the Aberdeen Waterfront ‘Living Edge’ project on the Drawn North website.

Sophia Rusinova

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