PROJECT TITLE: The Keelmen’s Extension

LOCATION: City Road, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

FUNCTION: Architecture School – studio focus

STUDIO LEADERS: Jack Mutton & Harriet Suttcliffe

DESCRIPTION: My Third year architecture project depicts a studio project that is tasked with creating a timeless piece of architecture, a permanent installation in the city. An abstract study into the city fragments of Newcastle is reflected in the master planning of the given site.

CITY FRAGMENTS: In the initial stages of the project, a section we named ‘primer’, I developed an understanding with the city of Newcastle, breaking it into segments. These segments are depicted in the film photos above. Each segment contains it’s own character and atmosphere, but are all still connected. From the initial study of the city, I produced a series of prints, sculptures and digital representations that aimed to capture the essence of these spaces. These experiments led into the initial design concepts for the project – an aim to capture selected atmospheres from around the city into the given site, City road.

Representing atmosphere: Early abstract explorations saw an attempt to capture the atmospheres of particular spaces around the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. By translating film photographs into a instinctive cast form, I was able to portray these found atmospheres in model form. Further translations gave me an abstracted plan drawing which provided a way of mapping the cities atmospheres and the connections between them.

MASTER PLAN: Developing an understanding of  atmosphere created by the city fragments led me to develop a master plan, developed from the spacial qualities of the studied areas. It also enabled me to focus on one of the segments to develop further in my project. The guidance received from my tutors was to take forward the St James’s development as it seemed the most intriguing with potential for improvement.

ST. JAMES’S: St James’s was analysed as being associated with verticality, new developments having shot up in the past decade has elevated the area (literally), likely in an attempt to keep up with the competition of Manchester and Birmingham. Additionally, the use of quick, cost effective cladding materials are scattered across the site. These realisations became the foundation for the project and led to the initial design response for my project.

TOWERS: Following the resolution of my early City road masterplan campus, I identified the particular typology I would develop for my final building proposal. Of the explored languages, the ‘Helix’ representation, capturing the idea of ‘monumental verticality’ in the city, was the most intriguing and was the arrangement I decided to develop for my project. Through my initial massing response, the instinctive reaction to the space would be prominent on the city skyline, echoing the characteristics of the Newcastle Helix’s progressive high profile in the wider context.

MONUMENTAL VERTICALITY: It’s masterplan exhibits a movement that connects the spaces, creating a newly formed civic fragment of the city that intertwines a historical narrative into the centre of all passing points. Yet, each proposition exhibits it’s own unique typology, most prominently distinguished through the further developed ‘Helix’ typology study. Following numerous explorations into the ‘Helix’ typology, the final proposal maintained the character of the direct site, yet mimicked the wider expanse of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the themes and atmospheres discovered earlier in the project. At ground level, the building allows the passage of pupil and public, creating a connection between spaces and the quayside. Meanwhile, moments of verticality are captured in the voids which protrude between floor, seen both through interior and exterior inhabitation.

RE-DEFINING TOWERS: Throughout the development of the project, it was evident that the initial response of individual towers had become lost throughout the translations, resulting in a fairly generic expression of the project. To combat the simple form of the project, I looked into re-defining the initial tower typology, pushing in walls that sat between the towers. This had the desired effect of recapturing the tower typology, it enabled me to further develop the design of interior space, making use of a thicker wall build up to identify the towers on the interior through the exaggeration of deeper window reveals.

PROGRAMME: At ground level, as mentioned prior, the building allows free movement between a rigid grid in which the initial nine towers can be read to meet the ground. The creation of undercroft spaces provide shelter, but also exhibits a sense of the compression for those passing through, this sense is ultimately relieved when passing through to the Keelmen’s courtyard, and a more airy, open atmosphere captured within the historic walls.

The buildings interior programme works around a centralised void in which all interior floors are visually, acoustically and physically connected. Vertical movement is located in both the north and south ‘towers’, allowing passage to each floor. Each floor is designated to a year group, progressively becoming more experienced towards the top floor – used as architectural masters studios, it has the highest vantage point to make use of views over the river Tyne. The floor plate of each floor operates through a series of periphery and internal spaces, the internal spaces are predominantly used as social/movement spaces, allowing students to pass freely between studio clusters and socialise, somewhat dampening the acoustic connection between each floor created by the central void before reaching each studio. On the periphery is the workspace and studio clusters, these were placed so students cal make the most of diffused light into the space for when they work as well as to provide them with views out over the Tyne.

VERTICALITY IN THE FACADE: Originally it expressed horizontal ‘domestic’ openings that showed nothing of the vertical nature of the space. To amend this I experimented in how the spaces might be mimicked in the facade, double height spaces exhibiting larger double floor openings to allow light to permeate deep into the space. This has created a greater reading of verticality on the facade, further exemplified through the redefining of the initial towers.

PERFORATING THE FACADE: I looked into how I might disperse light into the space using bricks, the primary material used on the site and on for the exterior finish of my project. I looked into the way flemish brick runs can be used to create perforated openings by removing a central brick. This method of bricklaying provides sufficient structural support whilst bringing light in and creating interesting shadows which change throughout the day. I tested this further in a 1:1 material exploration, made from reclaimed local bricks. This gave me a better understanding of exactly how the perforations would diffuse light and how the brick run may be expressed in the facade.

ATMOSPHERE: My initial photographic studies of Newcastle and its inhabited atmospheres looked to capture initial atmospheres. The study of these spaces, identifying typologies, enabled the development of these into architecture, merging each atmosphere, creating a new series of atmospheres into the existing lost fragment. Thus, there was an importance in the representation of these spaces, showing this newly created ‘compound atmosphere’, created from the typology of existing atmospheres around the city. I have attempted to capture the essence of this created space through visual renders, depicting the atmospheres created from the spaces.

1:20 DETAILED FACADE STUDY: I constructed a 1:20 detailed facade model to further understand the detailed connections of the facade perforations and represent their effect both on the interior and exterior of the building. The model was hugely beneficial through the way it showed the diffusion of light into the interior spaces through the flemish brick perforations.