Newcastle University is one of the UK’s leading universities, with a reputation for excellent teaching and outstanding research. The University takes pride in its close ties with the regional and local community, businesses, industry and cultural activities, and as a Civic Entity, desires an estate that reflects their quality and values. The overarching vision is to create and enhance the campus to become a coherent, recognizable, sustainable, pedestrian-friendly and welcoming place.
Newcastle University launched a design competition in September 2013 for Landscape Architects to submit proposals for the Kings Road Pedestrianisation project. Although a central and well connected route through the University, King’s Road presents fragmented pedestrian routes separated by vehicular routes and parking provision.
OOBE’s competition winning proposal to redevelop this main campus artery was built on three key objectives – create a pedestrian focused environment, develop a sustainable approach to current surface water and flooding problems, and provide a flexible, multi-functional environment. The proposal creates a high quality campus environment with a recognisable personality underpinned by sustainable processes.
Improved connectivity and pedestrian priority will reduce vehicular dominance and ensure that people know they have arrived ‘on campus’. The clear movement framework proposed is accessible and safe for all, and highly connected with the wider campus. Weaving the spaces together is a landscape language that includes a series of hard and soft landscape features which work in tandem to create an attractive, distinctive and sustainable landscape scheme at the heart of the University.
Innovative drainage proposals have been designed at King’s Road to be integral to the landscape design. The proposals harness a variety of techniques which are designed to work collectively to deal with surface water and to reduce the burden in the existing sewer system which in the past has struggled to cope with periods of heavy rainfall. Proposals include rainwater harvesting and storage; rainwater planters that gradually release water through evapotranspiration; extensive green roofs and facades that reduce water run off; permeable paving allowing water to filter through and be stored in the sub-base; and tree pit attenuation.
OOBE have developed a series of distinctive focus spaces which respond to the built forms and will facilitate various aspects of student life. These focus spaces will bring new uses and activities to augment and complement those already in place within the campus, facilitating both informal daily activities, such as lunch breaks and informal meetings, and formal activities including fresher’s week, seasonal markets and graduation events.
Standard details and modular elements of high quality have been proposed to assist with cost. The planting proposed is highly sustainable to minimize cost and maintenance, requiring only one maintenance visit per year.
The masterplan has been developed as one scheme but approached in a manner which will allow implementation over a number of phases, each retaining the character and design language of the wider proposals to create a coherent and legible completed scheme. The design is also flexible enough to accommodate changes whilst retaining the original design intent. . The implementation is split into 4 distinct phases to allow the University to continue to function efficiently, and respond to the University’s funding availability. Phase 1 is currently on site and due to be completed Spring 2015.
King’s Road | Newcastle UK | OOBE
Design firm | OOBE Ltd (landscape architect and lead designer)
Consultants Newcastle University (client, project management and arboricultural consultant); CH2M Hill (civil and structural engineer and transport consultant); Turner & Townsend (cost management and CDM co-ordinator)
Credit for images and text | OOBE Ltd