The College renovation: a success?

Situated in the heart of Aberdeen, The College had been a go-to bar for over 20 years, providing great nights out to the masses. But in June 2018, it was reborn as College - a newly designed, inclusive and metropolitan venue serving great drinks and creating fantastic experiences.

Tinto Architecture was the architecture and interiors firm selected to do the interior fit out of this venue, and we recently caught up with Paul Clarkson, Operations Director of PB Devco, to find out what’s been happening at College, and how has the refurbishment helped the bar achieve success since its official relaunch in June.


What did you aim to achieve with the refurbishment of The College? What was your ultimate vision and goal?

“We’ve had this venue for 24 years, and it was time to transform it, modernise it and make it into a completely different space - to breathe new life into it,” said Paul.

“There were three key things we wanted to achieve. Firstly, we wanted to be the first to bring tank lager to Aberdeen, as this would act as a unique selling point for us, and ensure we’re bringing the best beer to our customers.

“We also wanted to bring sports back to College, but deliver it in a new, exciting way, without just throwing TV screens up - as anybody could do this.

“The goal was to soften College as well, to appeal to both males and females. Previously, College predominantly attracted men, but we wanted to diversify and attract new people to this venue, by creating a space that everyone can love and enjoy.

“And we wanted to achieve all of this within a specific budget.”


Above: The College before the refurbishment


Above: The new College

How is the refurbishment helping you achieve this?

“The redesign of College has 100% helped us achieve these three goals,” said Paul.

“All the unique things we wanted to do have been achieved already.

“Attracting both male and female customers has definitely happened, as we now appeal to a much wider audience. The sports can be on, but females can also come in and enjoy a nice setting and delicious cocktails too. It is now a much more vibrant, modern and comfy venue, and it’s an enjoyable venue for everyone to spend time in.”

What has feedback been like so far?

Paul adds: “Feedback has been nothing short of amazing. People who used to come to The College can’t believe what we’ve managed to achieve, and new customers are coming in every day - because they’ve seen it on Facebook or Instagram, or heard about it from their friends.

“One of the most satisfying parts of the whole project has been the feedback - what people are saying to the team in the venue, and also seeing all the photos on social media.”

What are your favourite elements of the new College, and why?

Paul said: “Making a venue I’m so familiar with (I was a teenager when it was being built originally) and seeing it completely transform has been my favourite part of the refurbishment.

“Seeing ideas that I’d researched come to life has been great - such as the tank beer and the buzzer system for the tables - as well as the collaborative ideas we developed with the Tinto team.

“In terms of our favourite elements, it’s hard to pick. Every little element has pulled together so well to create something truly fantastic.

“The tank lager is a huge thing for us, and we had underestimated how popular the Tennent's brand is in the North East. You can now get the best pint of Tennents in Aberdeen at College, and we’re only the 3rd venue in Scotland to have Tenants tank lager.”


What was it like working with the Tinto team?

“Working with Tinto is always great, as they operate a very collaborative process. We even travelled down to London with Richard for research, and a lot of our ideas and design elements stemmed from this.

"Most of my dealings were with Richard, who I’ve had a very good relationship with for years from networking, and then predominantly Nina. Nina and I bounce off each other well and have a lot of similar tastes and ideas, so it was refreshing to see that, and have such positive interactions throughout the project."

You can find out more about the College project by clicking here. Or if you'd like to discuss an upcoming project with the Tinto team, send an email to and someone will be in touch.