Matthew Hagyard

The new pedestrianisation of Pilgrim Street is a throwback to the uses of Pilgrim Street right through Newcastle’s history. As the name suggests it was originally the main route north for pilgrims travelling north so was always busy with people moving through it on foot. Later on it was the location of the city jail and inmates would be walked through the street up to Gallowgate where they would be hung. People would line the streets and throw things at the inmates as a source of entertainment. More recently it has been a place for entertainment once again. The old Odeon cinema and Tyneside cinema are both located opposite one another on the north end of Pilgrim street and people would walk down the street and judge the queues outside to see which one they would go to. These stories and the journeys taken through the street will be incorporated into the project.

One of the main physical landmarks on Pilgrim Street is Commercial Union House. Unassuming from the outside the building actually houses a wide variety of different local businesses. The building states that it facilitates sustainability for creative individuals, social enterprises and cultural SMEs through providing: 1) Affordable workspace, 2) Fostering communication networking and collaboration, 3) A supportive environment, 4)Business development, 5)Health and wellbeing, 6)Life-long learning for the public, 7) Placemaking with the decaying, vacant and underused urban fabric.

The story of Pilgrim street is all about the journey people take along it and what they see along the way. The main obstacle to this at the moment is the extruding form of Commercial Union House. However, with the building housing so many creative talents, the aim is to take the journey from horizontally along the street to a more vertical journey, connecting the activities from inside with the journey of the people along Pilgrim street. This will provide more exposure for the inhabitants of the building and create a new cultural hub to partner with the busking activities of the existing street.

Building programmes

The main spaces identified from the precedent studies and other research were the performance, workshops/recording and exhibition. On these diagrams, it starts to place these on site to align with the site-specific analysis and then also the previous adjacency studies conducted. This is looking at how the main busy route for pedestrians will serve the main spaces of the building and then also how they will travel vertically through the building.

Now the basic spatial strategies had been formed, a closer look at how the building form would connect to the adjacent buildings and work with them. The stretch of the building along Pilgrim street still needed to be slightly more central as access to the shops of the stack was needed. This started to form a central corridor and axis for the building and the round floor recess was mirrored on the other side of the building. As stated this forms a central axis for the building that carries on vertically through the form. This starts to pull the building away from the existing commercial union house structure and differentiates from it.