The architect’s role traditionally ends when a building is handed over. Can we not intervene more radically? Can we not take in our hands the history of the city and use it as a feeding ground for creating new narratives? Can we act as scriptwriters or choreographers for the future of our cities?

We (Performing Architecture) are inspired by cinema, television, photograph, literature and computer games and we challenge the empty formalist pursuit of contemporary built form in the search for a critical and politically engaged role for the architect.

As a MArch Unit at the Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK. Our work is centred around the (re-)production and narrative of artefacts, buildings, landscapes and spaces, with a clear understanding and interest in their relationships with the city.

Tutors: Sebastian Messer + Jiayi (Jennifer) Jin

External Crits: Matthew Margetts, Tim Bailey

This year the studio looks at the crisis of high streets in the Gateshead, we try to re-imagine high streets as city lobbies, which originating in capitalistic societies, these lobbies are oddly socialistic entrances to mundane, stratified private spaces above. Formed in the gap between the ground and surrounding towers, the lobby is a distinctly modern type, conjuring notions of transparency, coexistence, continuity, and universal hospitality. Though often understood as a trivial space for moving through, the lobby also becomes a deceivingly important space for staying precisely because of its lack of definite program.

We are asking, if it is possible to offer new programs for Gatehead high streets, creating the design proposition that responds to its context and forms part of a new urban fabric. Which includes recreating interactivity with novel technologies / re-planning the street which acts as the civil plaza / re-building the community cohesion / forming the political action or linking the street with nowadays environment, gender, well-being and identity issues.


6th years: Lyndon Jessop, Catherine Sinclair, Emilie Hakner, Sharon Sze Yan Chan, Arron Reed

5th years: Will Dingwall, Ryan Braithwaite, Richard Taylor, Patrick Mcpartlin, Harry Cope, Amy Docherty, Ka Wai Tsang, Tom Newson, Nick Rainford

Tutors: Sebastian Messer + Jiayi (Jennifer) Jin

External Crits: Matthew Margetts, Karen Nugent, Tim Bailey

This year the studio took the principal routes into Newcastle upon Tyne as its initial territories for investigation. These historic roads represent the entry points to the city both physically and metaphorically; being also the centres of successive waves of immigration which then ripple outwards as communities establish and then hybridise.

We began the year by tracing these routes on foot, walking in to the city along each of the roads, noticing the finer-grained social and spatial transitions and implicit thresholds, documenting both built fabric and atmospheres. Through the first semester we became Flâneur-detectives, uncovering narratives of past and present, experiencing ourselves slipping between living in the moment and in deep time, meeting shopkeepers and ghosts, and telling these stories using narrative devices or highlighting the everyday sublime with our interactions directly on the street(s).

With this rich experiential and experimental knowledge, the second semester projected us into a near future, in which the existing city is considered as a given, or a ‘second nature’ in Walter Benjamin’s expression. We proposed new layers of material history superimposed on the present, ‘incomplete’ interventions that allow communities to take ownership of and shape their built environment, micro-infrastructures to perform everyday lives and to create contemporary rituals of gathering, eating and drinking, making and exchanging.


6th years: Priya Boby, Theodoric Hang Chi Cheung, Jesse Yuen Yee Ma, Leo Bourke, Srishti Dutta Roy, Marcus Pui Hong Lou, Christine Mottershead, Veronica Kit Ying Ng, Ben Staves; Part-times: Oliver Garside, Will Niven, Besart Redenica

5th years: Sharon Sze Yan Chan, Jason Lok Hang Fung, Lyndon Jessop, Emilie Hakner, Catherine Sinclair, Alice Ka Wai Tsang, Katy Wing Tung Yuen, Silva Chi Kin Chow, Ashleigh Peacock, Arron Reed