Factory conversion, Newcastle upon Tyne
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE (UK) - The story of the regeneration of Newcastle and Gateshead is usually told in large-scale projects such as Wilkinson Eyre's Millennium Bridge, Dominic Williams' Baltic or Foster and Partners' Sage Gateshead. But within this bigger story there are a number of smaller projects, mostly executed by architects based in the region, rather than big names from London, which are just as significant to the area's future.
The River Ouseburn flows into the Tyne a little more than a mile to the east of the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne. Historically a warehouse location for goods brought upriver from ships in the Tyne, it developed as a centre of light industry but latterly became a decaying backwater of crumbling buildings with low-grade uses. The Ouseburn Trust has led an incremental regeneration strategy that aims to preserve the old buildings and the industrial character of the area, while encouraging a variety of uses, with a focus on the creative and cultural industries.
Maynard Toffee's former factory had almost disappeared since being devastated by fire in the 1980s, although its 28-metre-high chimney remained a landmark where the main road along the Tyne crosses the Ouseburn. Challenged by 1NG, the NewcastleGateshead City Development Company, to produce managed workspace for growing digital and creative businesses, xsite architecture have created an efficient and exciting working base for 24 businesses (in spaces mostly 46-93 m2), which also provides work station or virtual office services for freelancers, and a venue for exhibitions, events or meetings. The success of the project is already attracting private developers to other key sites in the Ouseburn Valley.
The building's new function is clearly indicated externally by the weaving of modern materials and bright colours into the brick shell of the old factory, all of which creates a light, modern, naturally ventilated interior. A new third storey clad in lime green has been added to the side nearest the road, while the chimney remains as the building's marker and the focus of an open courtyard at the heart of the new place. Internally there is a flexible range of offices, workstations, formal and informal meeting places and event spaces, including a roof terrace.
Sunday | 15 July | 2012 | United Kingdom | Andrew Guest