If you have a development project in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area, you may need an architect’s expertise to turn your vision into reality.
This article can help you find the most suitable architect who can add value and imagination to your scheme.
The number of architects’ firms in Newcastle and the surrounding area may seem daunting, but we’ll make it easier for you select the right architect for you.
It’s important to find an architect who has successfully completed similar schemes to yours. Inspect examples of their work in person if possible and speak to former clients to see how well they communicated with them.
It’s also a good idea to check a firm’s reviews and find out about their reputation locally.
In this article we look at Newcastle’s history, architecture and development plans, then to inspire you, feature some brilliant work by five of our favourite architects in Newcastle.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s history and architecture
The history of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in North East England dates back almost 2,000 years. The city has undergone several transformations since it began life as a Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall in 122 AD. Fragments of Roman buildings can still be seen, notably Hadrian’s Wall and the medieval Castle Keep built by Henry II.
Newcastle was a stronghold against Scottish invasion in the Middle Ages, thanks to the 25-foot defensive stone wall built around the town in the 13th and 14th centuries, and sections of this can be seen today.
In the Middle Ages, Newcastle’s importance grew due to the wool trade and it became more prosperous as coal exports from the North East were shipped from Newcastle quayside. Later, it exported slate, iron and glass.
Newcastle thrived in the Industrial Revolution, becoming a centre for heavy industry – ships and steam trains were built there, and the population grew quickly. In the years before World War I, the North East built one third of the world’s ships and exported millions of tons of coal.
In the 1830’s, the city centre was redeveloped and much of the neoclassical architecture we see today was built. The early 20th century saw a decline in heavy industry; unemployment grew following the depression of the 1930s, in 1956 the last colliery closed and shipyards struggled to be competitive.
However, over the last 50 years the city has benefited from investment and regeneration schemes to become a cultural, commercial and social centre for the North East. Its housing stock ranges from historic Victorian and Georgian townhouses to terraces, flats, riverside apartments and purpose-built student accommodation.
In both Newcastle and neighbouring Gateshead there are excellent examples of housing design, from the pre-war period to modern schemes like Staiths South Bank.
Newcastle’s Byker Wall development is one of Europe’s leading examples of social housing. This block of 620 maisonettes was built in the 1970s and won many awards for its construction. The wall, which forms part of the estate, is on UNESCO’s list of outstanding 20th-century buildings: in 2007 the estate became a grade II* listed building.
The city has 31 conservation areas, seven parks and gardens, a battlefield and over 4,000 listed buildings.
Development in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Newcastle-upon-Tyne Council and Gateshead Council have a joint plan aimed at improving housing, infrastructure and encouraging employment.
Priorities are to create good neighbourhoods around a working city, along with sustainable communities and affordable homes with access to facilities and services. Other aims are to reduce environmental impact and build better quality homes to stop the trend for people moving out of the centre. Development must be geared towards creating a vibrant city centre, new industries, jobs and opportunities for young people to learn new skills.
The plan aims to see 21,000 new homes in Newcastle by 2030 with priority given to building within the existing urban footprint and on brownfield land connected to present infrastructure. Accommodation for around 2,000 more students is also planned.
Other aims include helping village communities around Newcastle by investing in them and allowing controlled expansion. There are plans for new homes on greenfield sites which will secure the future of schools, shops, public transport and services.
Economy and jobs
Newcastle-upon-Tyne is the key employment area in the North East, and while the economy is performing well, unemployment is an issue in deprived areas.
The commercial property market ranges from Grade A office space to industrial space. Some office stock is out of date and has high vacancy rates – new high-specification space is needed, especially to serve digital and media industries. The universities, manufacturing and engineering industries also need high-quality premises.
Newcastle attracts over 4m visitors a year and aims to expand its leisure, cultural and tourism offer as it strives to be a prosperous, sustainable city by 2030 where people choose to live, work and visit.
Why hire a Newcastle architect?
If you are unsure about whether you need an architect, here are some reasons why they could benefit your scheme.
Firstly, architects are trained in building construction and the design process and can give expert advice on your project.
Secondly, they may well be able to find savings, for example in making the best use of space in the building design and advising on energy options.
Thirdly, an architect can be useful for just the initial stages of your scheme, such as creating drawings and obtaining planning permission, or play a bigger role, dealing with building contracts or project managing the entire scheme and monitoring costs.
And fourthly, as well as architectural design, high-quality architectural services can include structural engineering should your project require this.
You need to identify an architect with experience of your type of project as they will then be able to advise on the planning approvals needed and recommend appropriate builders. The right architect will be aware of the local authority’s planning outlook, for instance, its environmental attitude and will be able to include the required amount of biodiversity net gain (BNG) in your scheme if this is needed.
If your development needs an ecology survey, our article ecology surveys – what you need to know explains the steps to take. Also, be aware that some planning applications for conversions require a bat survey.
Architects are required to register with the Architects’ Registration Board and are usually members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
Newcastle-upon-Tyne architecture projects
We’ve chosen some exquisite schemes carried out by five architects in and around Newcastle to demonstrate the innovative ideas that an architect can offer. Hopefully, you’ll see one project that’s in line with your vision.
Richard Ruddick Architecture
Founded in 2014, this firm has considerable experience in architecture, interior design, landscaping, feasibility studies, master planning and energy efficiency. They get excellent reviews and their website states:
We are able to carefully balance designs with commercial and economic issues to ensure the constraints of time and cost can be met without compromising quality.
This extension to a detached house involved adding an open-plan kitchen-diner and lounge. The kitchen features large areas of glazing and contemporary skylights to maximise light. A cedar fin in the middle of the extension screens neighbouring properties for maximum privacy. A contemporary landscaping scheme helps connect the house to the garden.
This award-winning firm concentrates on designing sustainable, inspiring buildings and they get five-star reviews. They are specialists in schemes involving historical buildings, one-off houses and remodelling existing houses, always with a view to energy usage.
These pictures show an extension and refurbishment of a dilapidated stone lodge, where the brief was to preserve the character and provide modern living space. The contemporary extension provides cooking, eating and entertaining space and a bedroom.
The use of natural materials – a zinc roof and stained, rough sawn blackened timber cladding – compliment the natural stone and slate of the existing lodge and the asymmetric roof gives internal space, allowing maximum light in.
This Northumberland-based architectural visualisation company specialises in producing high quality, photo-realistic images for architecture projects. It works with private clients and creative businesses on residential and commercial builds across the UK.
They have great testimonials and will take plans, drawings and ideas from clients to create 3D visual pieces and can also animate your ideas and produce video interior and exterior walkthroughs
This light-filled development and interior reconfiguration features a large mezzanine overlooking the kitchen and spacious dining area.
Acre Design specialises in redesigning Victorian homes and uses cutting-edge software tools to create your dream home along with 3D imaging software.
They are experts in thinking through the day-to-day running of your house, eco-living choices, obtaining planning permission and with over 10 years’ experience in building control, have a unique track record in getting projects through the process swiftly. They also have excellent reviews.
This triangular single-storey extension and bedroom over a garage extension, transformed a very dated building into a great modern family home with a large master bedroom above the garage, equal-sized bedrooms, space for home working, an exercise area, a dog washing area and a utility room.
This chartered architect-led design agency specialises in challenging projects and creative interiors. AIM Design is a multi-disciplinary practice offering concept design, feasibility studies, the full range of chartered architect services, master planning, zero carbon schemes, interior design, visualisation and animation.
Each project goes through a sustainability assessment which has led to a zero-carbon construction policy. The practice has won awards for design excellence ranging from single-house projects to mixed-use developments and they have five-star reviews.
This build was designed to give optimum views. A glass-topped walkway connects two upper wings, letting light into the centre of the house though a roof lantern. Large areas of glazing, low-maintenance white render and high-performance anodised silver glazing combined with cement tile cladding make up the external skin.
A dark brick hearth creates the home’s hub and the kitchen, dining and lounge revolve around it. White render, glass, natural hardwoods and ceramics create a modern, yet comfortable interior.
If you are now convinced about the benefits that an architect can bring to your plans, it’s time to get in contact with two or three architects in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
It might help to draw up some key questions to put to each one and compare their answers. Our article 10 things to ask your architect may be useful here. Most practices will offer an initial free discussion and competitive prices.
After meeting with architects and fully explaining your scheme, you will then be in the best position to make the final selection of the best architect for you.