The University of Newcastle upon Tyne selected the practice to compete against four others for the redevelopment of their Richardson Road site. The existing student flats on the site, built in the 1960s, were considered no longer fit for purpose and are to be demolished in phases. The University’s brief was to create approximately 1,000 bed spaces in apartments of six students per apartment, new sports facilities and to build at a density which would leave undeveloped a significant proportion of the site which might be later be used for academic purposes.
The practice’s approach was a development of our designs for both Queen’s University, Belfast and our unsuccessful competition entry for Warwick University. Neither these two schemes, one built, one un-built, have any internal circulation; each apartment opens to the exterior and there is a positive move to encourage sociability between apartments by placing staircases in open courtyards and overlooking these from the kitchens of the various apartments. This idea developed in Warwick and was further developed and intensified in our proposals for Newcastle. The various courts were then grouped around an open garden with a single entrance where were found all the communal facilities including wardens etc. At the other end of the garden were located the sports facilities which were linked across at first floor level to the existing sports buildings.
The design was highly energy efficient with heavyweight construction techniques and a heavyweight roof and super insulated walls and roof and with a degree of prefabrication and could easily have been built as a phased operation. Unfortunately, on this occasion the entry was not successful.