Connor O’Neill

Connor’s MArch Year 1 final project – The Black Dimond is an experiential museum with a narrative focusing on the North Easts mining and industrial heritage. It makes a push for future digital technologies whilst making reference to historical forms through kinetic and interactive elements. Designing atmospheric spaces that play with scale and materiality help to achieve a mine like experience that tells the story of Newcastle’s industrial past. Further into the narrative, the transition from old technologies to new will inspire the younger generation to push the creative digital future.

The experience begins by entering an adjacent building that takes the audience below ground level. This vast entrance space represents the tall, narrow and heavy shafts the workers used to enter the mines. They are then lead through a series of corridors and tunnels which pause at moments of significance, with the first space being a pre-exhibition space. Here the audience are introduced to the history of the North East and its mining and industrial heritage as these are the experiences they are about to encounter throughout the narrative. Further into the journey, the audience will encounter a large-scale void space that reflects the scale of the mines. Dark, cold and wet, the main mine shaft space incorporates a small rainwater collection pool which takes on an orange hue. This reflects the empty pits which are filled with blood orange coloured water which gets its colour from the oxidised iron machinery left in the pits. Next, incandescent light through oil and candle lanterns, lead the audience down a long narrowing tunnel which squeezes smaller and smaller. In contrast, the exposed mechanical lift will take the audience up to the second floor where the narrative continues.

Upon entering the engine house, the walkway overlooks the ground floor mixed use space whilst surrounding an original steam powered train which is suspended from the roof. This train brings light to the main piece of machinery that made the transportation of coal so successful. Further into the narrative, the audience are guided through a series of mechanical and interactive elements that bring a sense of play to the learning of the history before they work their way down the building to find workshops and education spaces.

Ground Floor Plan

First Floor Plan

Second Floor Plan