2019-2020 Re-imagining the High Street
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.
By treating the street as the lobby, so the infrastructure and buildings become furniture of the lobby, we look to document the narrative inside. In the first semester, students explore the materiality of architectural space through a series of spatial installations and performance work on the streets. In each group, you will be encouraged to develop design processes, techniques and skills appropriate to a “narrative” emphasis and a temporal (time-based) understanding of architecture,
In the second semester, we will look to combine different functions within a single building to encourage overlap and cross programming. This could be combining a library with a cinema, a theatre with an educational building or a dance venue with a gallery, which provides the opportunity to attract a wider range of people and create a new cultural focus for the high street of the future.
This year the studio took the principle 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 (part-times): Oliver Garside, Will Niven, Besart Redenica
Shields Road & New Bridge Street
5th years: Sharon Sze Yan Chan, Jason Lok Hang Fung, Lyndon Jessop, Emilie Hakner, Catherine Sinclair, Alice Ka Wai Tsang, Katy Wing Tung Yuen
5th years: Silva Chi Kin Chow, Ashleigh Peacock, Arron Reed