The National Theatre of Scotland (NTS), in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, launched a major new participatory arts project in Aberdeen in September 2015. The aim was to tell the story of the city and its people, highlighting it as a cultural hotspot and bringing the city’s historic streets to theatrical life. At its core, would be a dynamic and growing web presence, which would collate user-generated content, as well as a whole host of media captured from the multi-sensory experiences ran throughout Granite's duration.

Kicking off in September 2015, creative teams from NTS worked with community groups in Aberdeen, in order to get answers from the public to three important questions;

  • What is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to you?
  • What brings you home and what brings you here?
  • What do you need to get you through the day?

The answers to these questions informed the narratives of four spectacular events throughout November and December, focusing on Sound, Video, Theatre and Dance, with a fifth, unforgettable theatrical finale event taking place througout March and April 2016.


MAJOR events held across the city


ATTENDEES to 196 workshops


tickets SOLD OUT a month in advance

Granite is a hugely exciting project with many strands that needed to be brought together in one online space. The Granite website allows us to share listings information with audiences, as well as showcasing some of the exciting digital artwork, like sound and video that is being created within the project. AD were able to deliver a dynamic platform against tight timescales.

Nicky Fagan, Web and Publications Editor,
National Theatre Scotland


Impressed with our years of experience in the arts and culture sector, NTS approached us to design and develop this living and breathing digital platform, which would evolve with Granite over its 6 month lifetime.

Stories of tenacity and poetry, politics and tenderness speak volumes about the spirit of Aberdonians and the purpose of the new site was to be an interactive hub for these narratives. The website needed to cater to multiple forms of media input with simple and effective administration, allowing NTS to maximise on both user-generated content and give the live performances a home online. Ultimately, the Granite site aimed to break down barriers and captive audiences worldwide.

Engaging Diverse Audiences

The Granite project aimed to engage both the general public in Aberdeen and key cultural groups, whilst reaching out to a wider diaspora of people associated with Aberdeen located across the globe. As such, digital technology was key to achieving this goal.

UX Discovery

Working hands-on with the NTS team, we explored the vision of Granite and what success would look like. This enabled us to scope out technical requirements and establish KPIs. We dedicated time to working with the team to create an innovative and interactive information architecture and navigation, which lent itself to the various, multi-sensory art forms.

The key aims of this project were:

  • To inform users of how to get involved with Granite, including purchasing tickets and information on attending events.
  • To provide information on all partner organisations and supporters (National Theatre Scotland, Aberdeen City Council, Deloitte and the University of Aberdeen to name a few), thus promoting the rich cultural infrastructure in Aberdeen.
  • To function as a piece of art in itself, featuring artworks, words, sounds from the soundscape and videos from the projections.
  • To encourage interaction both amongst new users and existing users worldwide.
  • To promote engagement out with the website, adopting the hashtag #graniteaberdeen.


artists performing in the finale


costume changes


attendance to all performances



With the ability to evolve and scale, combined with advanced administrative control at its heart, the simple, open source, content management system WordPress was the obvious choice of CMS for this project. Featuring an interactive, motion-based logo, which took precedence on the homepage, the main navigation consisted of the Granite events (Sound, Video, Theatre and Dance) designed uniquely at the base of the screen - so as to be more easily reached by thumbs on mobile devices.

Alongside collecting valuable data on the streets of Aberdeen, the website acted as a secondary research tool for NTS, prompting Aberdonians to get involved and share their opinions on what makes Aberdeen great for them.

A roaring success

Granite was a major success, with NTS delighted with both the digital and real-world outputs and all objectives achieved. The performance sold out a month in advance, resulting in NTS needing to allocate additional day tickets, just to be able to cater to the high demand. Over 196 workshops were held with over 2,300 attendees over the duration of Granite. Whilst the website evolved to host 6 audio stories, 6 image galleries, 12 short films, 1 video trailer and 5 written Aberdeen feature stories, alongside fantastic social user-generated content (UGC).