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Quadrangle outside Architecture Building, Newcastle University

Charrette week is week-long architecture event which is a thrilling activity where all the years from Newcastle architecture school participate in. It has different themes that bring in an exchange of knowledge of skills and a thrive to produce something at the end of the week.

I have chosen to blog about a particular charrette theme which interested me the most and which I could relate to the themes that were run this year. The Charrette was run by Amara Roca Inglesias and it was called ‘Touch me! Let’s Change The School’.

So, the brief was as followed, the patch of grass in front of the Architecture School at Newcastle University is isolated. People are not allowed to use it; none can lay on it or walk through. Students and tutors see this spot every day on their way to the school. It could be a great place to read, have lunch, take a little nap, enjoy an outdoor gig… If only one could touch the grass… The task for us was to turn this plot into an animated public space, to create a landscape of pleasure and utility versus the existing ornamental scenario, to make it accessible, civic. But of course, none can touch the grass… The plan was to regenerate the quadrangle in the space we were allocated in the architecture building.
How could we inhabit this space so that it resembles the green patch in front of the Architecture building?
Yes we had make our ceiling look like a sky, yes we had to make some of the walls look like surrounding buildings and trees, yes we to make our floor look like grass!
We were roughly around 19 students that got divided into ourselves to work on walls, ceilings, floor and the main stage for performance. We had a week to actually turn our ideas into reality and think about how this space could be socially engaging for more people to interact and livelier place, be it in any seasons. Some of the examples that our Charrette Leader had suggested to us were to build a long table to host a picnic for the whole school, a paddling poop where you can relax after submission, a stage for a rock band? Above all, waste was the main material for construction.

We began by sketching prototypes of what the space would look like and what potential recycled materials we could find around us. This really engaged us to go around the city of Newcastle looking for materials we could build upon such as recycled bottles, carboard boxes and lots of paper that were thrown away in the bins. As starting point the group had 50 reclaimed pallets, 20 timber posts and some screws. The rest of the materials were scavenged from supermarkets such as plastic bags. The purpose of our Charrette studio was to not create new waste which was one of the constrains the group would have to face throughout the process of making.

How many of you actually think about waste in our daily lives? This made us think in a broader perspective of circle of waste.

Above images are the process of the work which was taking place in the week

Final exhibition where we invited a person from Newcastle to perform on the stage we made


These are some of the pointers we might want to look upon at
Would architecture students prefer a shared facility to entertain with other student of Newcastle University or with the people of Newcastle?
Is this an opportunity for others to get an insight of what architecture is about and what architecture students do as a way of demonstrating a public ornament at the quadrangle as a public space?
Would this blur the distinction between architecture and its surroundings, be it nature, furniture or just people?

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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