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Alexander William Mackay

Architecture Portfolio

Newcastle University

16 -17

Reflection Coming from a technology based background, I have always felt my line of inquiry particularly rigid and conventional. My chosen studio Getting Away from it All, has given me the ideal platform on which to give more atypical approaches a go. For the primer project I decided on producing as many interpretive works as possible, ranging from concrete casting to paper sculptures. This continued in to my graduate project, which has included screen printing and extensive branding, both skills which I intend to expand on in future. I hope to keep on pushing, discovering new systems and mediums, and to produce engaging work. As it stands, I feel I am only just beginning to understand where my interests in the subject truly lie. To those involved with this wonderful journey, thank you.

Contents Charette Week 1-2

Primer Project 3 - 22

Graduate Project 23 - 104

Integrated Technology 105 - 120

Theory in to Practice 121 - 122

Dissertation 123 - 128

1.0 Charette Week

Hand printed wallpaper project The Charette project brief was to produce a hand printed wallpaper, celebrating a cultural aspect from the region. This would be displayed at a public exhibition at the end of the week, alongside other design teams’ work. This was my first opportunity to try a very basic screen printing process, something I’d been interested in for a while. My group’s chosen design was a tessellating rework of the North East metro logo. The logo went through various changes until the output was achievable with a card stencil and silk screen.


Although only an amateur start, the printing process was hands-on and enjoyable. It was something I began to refine in my spare time, and influenced some of my graduation project outputs in the future.

The screen print process


2.0 Primer Project

Cultural & Typology Studies The primer project was a six week investigation in to various aspects of the Northumbrian coast, as well as global coastal typologies. Every week I decided to explore my typology themes with a sculptural piece. Settling on concrete casting; both as a media for representing my research, as well as an investigation to the most commonly used material in defence structures. This was run in parallel with another output, normally a graphical interpretation. My line of enquiry was to understand aspects of these remnants, and then to reinterpret them as something entirely different.


Causeway panorama

Crastonbury festival Collage coastal stretch

Beach panorama

J6 wreck Graduate project site Bunker panorama

Map of Northumberland with primer points of interest


Collage This work was produced by layering different outputs relevant to weekly themes over the entirety of the primer project. This year I had resolved to produce more graphically intense work, the collage being my first stab at something more abstract. The first layer was centred around the location which you’d be studying. I chose the stretch of Beadnell to Craster, two culturally rich fishing villages with important regional history. Strips of painted card were used to outline this area.


Secondly we looked at people, I explored the history of the British submarine J6 and it’s crew. Mistaken for a German U-boat by the Q-ship the Cymeric, J6 was fired upon and sank. Just under half the crew survived. A halftone trace print represents the crew’s past and its modern discovery. The third theme of the week being vocation, having two fishing communities meant producing a layer describing their relationship with the sea. Two hands holding each other firmly, produced in string around nails.

Community and event was the final theme, where I discovered the local free festival Crastonbury. Hosted at the regionally famous Craster Arms in Beadnell, a re-purposed sixteenth century pele tower. Here I redesigned a more contemporary poster for the event, printed and displayed around the pub’s location.

VR investigation Virtual landscapes made through taking a full degree panoramic photograph at the site, then stitching it together with video editing software. Designed to provide anybody with a suitable headset, with an experience of the landscape.


Week One My initial cast looks at light and form with defence structures. The piece has a hollow shaft running through its centre, which a light can be shone up. Through gaps in the back, this gives the effect of light entering a firing slit. The inhabited spaces are also supposed to represent the claustrophobic nature of pillboxes, their small scale contrasted with the mass of the whole.


Minefields An early abstract paper collage which represents the process behind metal detecting on beaches. For an individual looking for scrap, artefacts or even munitions, the landscape becomes more refined as the process continues. Eventually giving a totally clear panorama, where the blips on a detector become tangible.


Week Two For the theme of colour and material, I made observations of the longevity of such structures. Bland concrete would eventually become colourful and wild once fallen in to disuse, plant growth often gave a charming effect. This cast in particular came across as a sort of plant pot, flourishing paper flowers and geometry.


Wallpaper A pattern produced from repeating geometry found in pillboxes and tank traps on coastal sites. The idea of these structures being re-purposed mirrors my work about organic growth on concrete. The design would later be incorporated on the branding aspects of my product design task.


Week Three For volume and process I attempted to reinforce my cast with a steel mesh, mimicking the real construction techniques used. Sticking to a uniform extruded form with a hollow, again just a reinterpretation of the real thing.


Poster task This piece is a minimal interpretation of the view out of a coastal pillbox. Contrasting the dark interior with a very focused and bright horizon. Designed to give the viewer a feeling of both claustrophobia juxtaposed with an enjoyably optimistic perspective.


Week Four My final cast for landscape and context saw a move away from the traditional sea defence locale, the beach. This design looks at undersea mine fields, where the devices have to perfectly react to their environment.


MOD guide Booklet designed on behalf of the ministry of Defence, detailing potential uses for decommissioned defence structures. Using the week’s typology of a Normandy sea bunker, all of the proposed uses are unconventional yet realistic.


Normandy illustration Piece depicting an amphibious assault on a coastal defence. Using a German army sea bunker in Normandy as reference.



Product A concept for sunglasses without lenses. The apertures are simple slits, based on those found in pillboxes and bunkers, which reduce the amount of light able to reach the eye. Designed to be laser cut and slotted together, no mechanical fittings and interchangeable parts. Cheap and quick to produce. Depending on the material used, they could also be entirely recyclable.


My initial design was card modelled, featuring a range of different slits and frame shapes. awood frame. The final product uses a standard frame, which allows several different lenses to be inserted. This was branded as a kitsch low-cost product, using graphics made earlier as part of the packaging.

Initial advertising concept


Final Glare Warrior design


Glasses with various lenses


Crab Warrior product The toy project was an attempt to spark an interest in the region’s history with children. Using local WWII unit references, reinterpreted as something more exciting. Again, using older graphic design as part of the whole representation.


Packaging designs


2.1 Graduate Project

Culture Beach My research on the Northumberland coast has discovered a cultural resistance to change. Many sites are protected heritage areas, or have developments regularly contested by local forums. Certain towns may have restrictions on on new builds, looking to maintain a community aesthetic. I feel this is something which may be hindering progress. The chosen site being a brownfield plot in Blyth, Northumberland. Once a major shipping port, and now an area in need of economic regeneration. The area’s history sets important post industrial precedents, and is host to a wide array of engrossing architectural remnants. These curiosities are reminiscent of the defence structures covered in my primer typology work,


My project aims to provide a focus for regional development by creating an organic scheme, wherein the building form changes and adapts over time. Here, users will both live and work, producing their own workshop and business spaces. The user-built units will be produced using an opensource construction system. This is something that allows clients to tailor design their workshop, allowing modifications for any specialist equipment or necessities. The site also has a range of pre existing infrastructure which could be incorporated in to the design. This will hopefully create a platform on which creative networks can interchange and grow. The resultant built environment would hopefully become an attraction in the area, bringing money to the local economy.

Aerial view of Blyth, with site



Sun path over site

N 40 h

30 h 20 h 10 h

Wind rose over site


Closer view of site


Site photographs


Panoramic across river from site

Panoramic on site




Remnant car wreck


Initial concept My very first concepts for the project focused on creating an environment in which a new culture would be incubated. I originally wanting to focus on fishing and piracy as trades sustained by my building. This evolved in to a Lord of the Flies -esque scenario, existing outside of conventional society.


Early idea developed The concept was to have a community where the users manufacture their own built environment. This would be maintained by a semi permanent staff. People would be allowed to join the community, and would progress up the



A new purpose A series of sketches used to reinterpret coastal defence structures as machines. There was an early idea to adapt a pre-existing structure to support this new community. This was influenced by military precedents hosting fauna once they’d fallen in to disrepair.



Cities of steel Aesthetically, I found old mines and blast furnaces particularly interesting. A machine the size of a city. These drawings explored the forms found on such buildings.


Workshop -Space to store materials -Space for necessary equipment -Access to transport -Access to move components to flexible build space Accommodation -Studio dwelling -Family dwelling -Be as compact as possible Main structure -Give direct access to self build areas -Shelter self build areas -Contain user accommodation Self build structure -Allow for modular units to be build in-situ or inserted -Allow for modular units to be regularly interchanged or adapted -Give access to to all units, from the main structure -Support services for units -Allow sun access to individual units -Allow users maximum design freedom for units Landscape -Provide inviting visitor routes around the main structures -Make use of pre-existing infrastructure



Modular Environment

Circulation Core


Permanent Admin & Businesses


People & Materials

Schedule of accommodation By this point I had to decided to push the concept of a creating a new culture. Instead of adapting an already existing once. This schedule looks at the layout of a building in which users create components to make their own individual living units. This would see all access to the entire scheme streamlined through portals which would accommodate for both people and materials. This could use the site’s pr-eexisting infrastructure as method of import. Everything would travel through a structure to reach the user built areas.


Initial sketch ideas


Initial form concept Explorations which used the schedule of accommodation to influence the schemes’ overall form. Early ideas had a more merged concept of workshop and user built space. The bottom drawing on the left hand page was the most influential. It consists of a series of permanent structures, flanked by user built systems.



Massing The sketched concept was developed using 3D massing. Focusing on permanent structures which house workshops spaces, in which components are made for the users’ units.


The space as a factory Card model looking at the permanent production space as an actual factory. This helped explore access and spaces within my early concepts.


Concept model on site Physical model which represents the juxtaposition of permanent, factory spaces with the ever changing, self-build environment.


Early sections These features a U shaped permanent section, where the spaces between would have different uses. An accommodation block or retail space could be inserted.


Sections developed Further working with the U shaped design, it became clear that whatever function the middle section would have,it would not be receiving any sunlight or have much room. This design also left either side of the structure with large, empty corridors running down them.


Reworking the sections Reworking the U shape section to become an L shape. This ultimately meant that only one side of the structure could support a modular network, the opposite being reserved accommodation and glazing.


Accommodation Workshop

Circulation Core People & Materials

Updated schedule Schedule of accommodation reflecting the changes in design from the U shape to L. Working in a more three dimensional manner.


Developed Sections Improved U shape sections. Three variations for accommodation, freight lift access and pedestrian access respectively.


Whole fin developed Assembling the current section concepts in to a whole structure.


Accommodation and access First design of an interior space for the studio apartments, showing their relationship with public pedestrian access.


Workshop and grid Expanding the main structure to accommodate for a pier and the modular grid.


Representational model Looking at how the main structures sit on the site, and their relationships with pre-existing infrastructure.


1:50 Section model


Whole scheme realised



Built landscape at weekends All ground floor spaces open to the public, such as sports areas Pathways used to guide pedestrians in to the site, and to access points for the main structures.



Weekdays What is pedestrian access on weekends becomes routes to supply workshops during the week, with rail and road.



Atmospheric section



Atmospheric section



Atmospheric sections



Atmospheric sections



How it works


Blyth’s pre-existing community staffs and administrates the blocks, living in their own homes off site.

After a successful application and allocation, new users will be given an apartment inside the main structure.

These workers train new residents in construction the techniques and help them get started.

They’ll live here, and work in the grid.

Materials arrive at ground level; by the pre-existing rail line, rail or boat. They are carried up in the freight lifts and stored on the first floor. Materials will move one floor up to the workshop level for processing.Â

Users will design and cut components in the workshop, these will then be transported up the freight lifts and out on to the grid, where they are built in situ.Â

Over time the community will evolve organically. Eventually users will outgrow the project and will move their business/ workshop out. Other users will then extend and re-appropriate older workshop spaces.Â


Welcome Pack Designed to be mailed to people applying for accommodation and workshop space. It includes a how-to guide, a map, declaration forms and an introduction to what the scheme is about.


HOW IT WORKS: a user guide

It’d be nice with a bit more, luxury, you know?


have an idea

All great things start with an idea. Culture Beach provides maximum flexibility when it comes to facilitating you and your endeavours. Whatever concept you start with, however big or small, can be achieved. We provide the perfect environment, and largest creative community in Europe.



find a space



All great things start with an idea. Culture Beach provides maximum flexibility when it comes to facilitating you and your endeavours.



How about another floor for a fish smoker?

Here, our friendly permanent staff will guide you through the design and construction process.

No problem, allocation services can pair you up and organise the expansion of a section.

Large photography studio, darkroom, gallery space and break room?

Need extra space for a third kiln?

Once you’re here, you’ll be assigned a workshop space in your block of choice.

Have a friend already here?

The flexibility of the wikihouse construction system means that any particular environments required for specialist equipment can be catered for.


design and build

Contact our allocation offices and begin the conversation on where and when you’ll be moving in. Spaces regularly change hands, and you never know what might be freed up.

Batch No. 13

Don’t they just do it with copper pots and anti freeze?


decide what you need

Design it and add it on.

The teams and other residents can help you build your unit, a fantastic way of getting to know neighbours and expanding your networks.

Culture Beach brewery, 2030


Success! Welcome pack contains a guide to the culture beach brewery, taking it from concept to successful business.

move out

The minute you feel like you’ve outgrown Culture Beach, you can pack up and get yourself out in the wider world. Your slot

Whatever concept you start with, however big or small, can be achieved. We provide the perfect environment, and largest creative community in Europe.


Construction used on brewery unit Showing Wikihose construction system used in modular units, and the units relationship to the grid access walkways.


To brew beer


Branding with stickers Series of branded stickers designed for the scheme. Logos used geometry found in the design of the project.


Physical copies


A day in the life of

John, a newly moved in screen printer, starts the day in his studio apartment.

Moving down to the workshop, here he can plan extensions to his unit. This private space will be a hive of activity with other workshop owners.

Sarah and Kate, two visitors to the site. Having heard of it as a local attraction and countless workshops, this is something they want to check out.

They navigate the public spaces beneath the modular units. Here there are food vendors, sports courts and routes to access the main structure.


John concludes the day with a well deserved rest in the apartment.

Travelling up the main building and out on to the workshop grid, they bump in to John.

The walkways are streets in their own right, with a multitude of different crafts.

Sarah and Kate head home, hopefully spreading the word of culture beach.

He mentions his business and what he does, and takes them across.


Hand printed branding Building on screen printing experiences during Charette week, I worked on a collection of graphics relating to the project. Prints featuring brewery branding, images on accommodation units and graphics designed for the scheme as a whole.



Fourth floor

Fifth floor

Sixth floor

Seventh floor

Eighth floor

Main structure exploded


Worker observing workshop access



First floor workshop

Second floor Workshop

Third floor

15 year plan

Start Initial workshop, circulation and accommodation is set up. Adjoining grid will begin to fill up over the first year.

Year 5 Additional sections on main fin added, the grid extended and more modules able to be constructed.

Year 15 Entire grid system should be occupied between a 15 - 20 year period; prompting the construction of a second permanent fin, repeating the process.


Accommodation in main structure


Family unit

Studio unit


Front access to scheme


Studio apartment interior


Access to the coast from front of the site


Ground floor built landscape


View on the pier towards land


Rooftop views


Beneath the structure


View from the beach


View from the river



1:200 Ground floor plan



1:200 Second floor plan



1:200 Fourth floor plan



1:200 Sixth floor plan




3.0 Integration of Technology



My building’s primary structure works as a cast in-site concrete pier, with an additional steel frame above this. This continues to an exposed steel frame perpendicular to the building, which will support the user-built aspects of the project. The secondary structure is a series of cast in-situ concrete floor slabs, with a territory structure of pre cast concrete wall panels.


The user built portion of the scheme uses the Wikihouse construction system. Here the primary is a series of milled structural plywood portal frames, with structurally insulated panels inserted between them. These units are bolted to a cast concrete slab, which in turn is poured on to a steel deck bolted to the external mild steel framework. The units are wrapped in a DPC layer and can be covered with a range of cladding.

Original structures


Developed structures





1:100 detail section showing focus areas

Construction and Materiality Concrete is predominantly the material of choice, both for its appropriate qualities, as well as its relevance to the design’s precedents. One initial aesthetic requirement was the juxtaposition of a permanent mass with a more flexible looking system. Having a solid monolith support small scale usr systems achieves this. The workshop space inhabits the initial concrete pier, appropriate for its thermal qualities should a breakout happen.


Also given that all pedestrian access conducts itself through the ‘fin’ structure, the concrete would protect fire escape routes. Since both the pier structure and its legs would be built both near and in water, using one material suitable for both keeps an aesthetic continuity in the design too. The longevity of the material was something observed in my primer typology studies, the structure is built to last. Looking at sea fortifications, and how

their concrete sections change over time, as well as how they can host an array of fauna was also taken in to consideration.

1:200 5th floor plan, showing detail section line








1:20 Module detail section 1. Outer DPC layer under plastic finished manufactured board clad

4. Galvanised steel connector between wiki frame and concrete slab

2. Wikihouse joist construction system.

5. Steel deck

3. Structurally Insulated Panels between joists


6. Concrete


2 3 4

5 6

7 8 9


1:20 Wall detail section 1. Shear stud in I beam holds roof panels on with metal loop 2. Finished steel rod with sealant for water and air continuity 3. Corrosion resistant metal pin, connects panels without penetrating air layers

4. Concrete sandwich panel with integrated insulation 5. Line of outer sealant at panel joints

8. Cast in place anchor 9. Steel I beam 10. Concrete floor slab

6. Line of inner sealant at panel joints 7. Gypsum board attached to steel stud wall




Lower structure 1:50 detail section 1. Pile foundation 2. Cast concrete support 3. Freight lift assembly




Material route Materials travel to the workshop to become house components, these are then redistributed to the frame.

Workshop Materials

Studio Specific Technology The Wikihouse frame system was chosen for several reasons. Firstly, the flexibility of system allows the user to design, within reason, exactly the space they need. This allows for inclusion of any special equipment that an individual might want for their workshop or business. This ultimately broadens the target market and may attract more users. The eventual aesthetic of a grid filled with a host of different forms and uses also tackles the attraction aspect of the brief,


this creates an interesting and enjoyable environment which visitors may feel inclined to explore. This provides footfall for businesses and helps build networks within the community. The self build construction is physically constricted by a maximum of two storeys per building. Although users may buy an adjoining space to their current workshop, this restricts vertical development to one floor in the framework. A two floor build-

ing is something achievable by small low-skill teams of labour, it also controls light access between dwellings. Portal frames are also a fairly easy to understand design concept, these segments consists of slotting panels together and occasionally bolting junctions. It isn’t intimidating, and hopefully something which would promote people to choose a workshop here.

Original concept for modular structure


Modular construction Diagram of modular structure used in self build units, showing Wikihouse joist and SIP system.



Sun path Showing the average path of the sun to reach the dwelling sections on the side of the fin.

Sun path Glazing highlighted in yellow on the side of the structure.

Environmental Strategy & Services One concern for the initial fin structure was the regulation of temperature, in a space regularly cut with slots for freight lift access. The thermal mass of the chosen material helps to regulate this. The side of the scheme which hosts the user accomodation has a continuous concrete facade, maximising storage of solar gain. This facade also takes on the the most frequent proportion of direct winds, ventilating the accomodation. The opposite side has only access corridors,

and no dwellings. These sections are instead cross ventilated between freight lift sections. Servicing in the grid is is maintained by channels running on the underside of the walkways, accessible by modular spaces to either sides. Some units may require services running vertically down, which can be approached by running these services through the walkway sections in front of the spaces.


N 40 h

Wind rose Showing the highest percent of yearly winds coming from the SSE.

30 h 20 h 10 h

Ventilation The dwellings directly receive the majority of winds, protecting the modular system behind the fin and allowing for ventilation.

Alternative ventilation The voids left for the service elevators to run up create a good opportunity for both the workshop, and spaces either side to be ventilated.


Services in main fin Each floor of the main structure would have horizontal services meeting and travelling vertically down towards the workshop level. This navigates the voids created by the service lifts.

Services in grid Each walkway would have a track of services running beneath it, which would supply the units to either side of it. These would run back to the main fin and join with it’s own service system.

Vertical services Should a unit require services which need to travel vertically, perhaps waste, this can be achieved. The walkway sections are also modular, and uninhabited. These could be punched through for services pipes to pass through.



Reflection I feel the inclusion and development of the technology on my scheme has been incredibly beneficial. Choosing and implementing a user built construction system was a large part of my early design process. Considering I had chosen to resolve my project’s attraction criteria with a network of small scale workshops; without an appropriate method, my design choices would have been left infeasible. This would have ultimately derailed the scheme. Research for my technology has both broadened my architectural vocabulary as well as introducing me to a host of interesting precedents. Looking at potential user built methods and how these construction systems work, in turn influenced the design of my main structure. The materials they use, the storage space required, the tools needed and the space required to transport components; all influenced my final design for my workshop spaces. These would also be real world necessities of such a project, to design a component

workshop without understanding its outputs is again, a failure. Material investigations in to concrete and steel framework, and how these were considered in similar structures found in my primer project, has helped tie my development together between stages. It has also provided a continuum from primer to the final stages of my work. Looking at structural remnants around my site was a key driver in early concepts, and helped form the narrative for my project. I feel that understanding the technology and materials used in context to your site can enrich an appropriate response massively. There may be important cultural precedents or methods to derive from such work. These may also determine the success of your building within the local community, or with a specific client.

fession. Additionally, I feel designing alongside realistic requirements has invited me to tackle and understand new problems, without closing any doors. I find designing without constraints inherently more difficult, and the inclusion of a logical requirements has give me an appropriate route of inquiry. Overall, being able to approach a brief with a structured and justified response is certainly only attainable with an understanding of the technology within your proposal building.

It has also help me develop my personal skills and understanding of how a concept can become tangible, which I feel is a crucial aspect of the pro-


4.0 Theory in to Practice

Culture Beach My project intends to promote the economic regeneration of Blyth, as well as the wider Northumberland region. Based in a historically important industrial port town; the design draws on both the building’s integral processes, as well as pre-existing architectural remnants and infrastructure as key precedents. The scheme works through permanent and semi-permanent structures; an initial factory and accomodation ‘fin’, flanked by a steel grid -housing an expanse of modular units. The former acts as a manufacturer of components for user-built dwellings, workshops and businesses, and the latter as a support in which they exist.


Culture Beach is named such, because of the potential for new societies to emerge from the ever changing built environment, and the everyday exchanges between it’s users. Similarly, the organic city which is created intends to be an attraction to the site itself, something new and inviting.

Early Collage Work During the Staging phase of the project, my outputs were mainly centred around collage pieces; used to envisage the potential societies and cultures inhabiting such a structure. They explore: imagined hierarchy, customs and aesthetics; all in an abstract nature. These works also state and delve into it’s narrative, which will in turn govern the design direction of the scheme’s development and final outputs. My studio incorporates multi disciplinary aspects; these initial outputs and their influences will also direct later efforts, in perhaps the graphic branding and advertising of Culture Beach. Developing Function Identifying the building’s integral processes and designing to accommodate them, has been perhaps the most driving factor behind my project’s development. Resolving such processes has required constant readjustment of the programs which govern the scheme, as well as the spaces which facilitate them. The factory space and the destination of it’s components, also the servicing and circulation of user built spaces, were constantly re-imagined and reconsidered.

The majority of my outputs at this stage have been mostly quick parti diagrams and sketches; who’s understanding resolves the building’s functions, and ultimately provides a platform which then directly dictates form. A similar method to Metabolist design strategies, as well as Dieter Rams’ functional principles. Conclusion In summary, Culture Beach intends to provide its users with a wholly resolved platform, on which to developed and construct their own environment. My representational outputs have paralleled project development as working pieces. The concept is driven by Metabolist theory, but refined using Ram’s principles; both instances regarding the purpose of design as a tool for the user. The evolution of the narrate alongside the program itself has helped direct certain decisions, and given Culture beach a more palpable richness. Investigations through more abstract techniques are juxtaposed nicely with the more practical progressions, and help step away from the sterile approach of which Rams has been accused of. Likewise, the Metabolists understood that a building

is to be used, forgetting the more cultural aspects of a project would inherently create a machine with no living10. Understanding the function of the scheme has been achieved through quick diagrammatic pieces and spacial interpretations; rapidly produced and reworked. These processes then translated as both physical and computer models which give a more tangible means of exploring space and form. Ultimately, my work attempts to perfect the means through which the project will expand; hopefully enabling the end user free reign over their built environment.


5.0 Dissertation

‘Mr Smith’

The Meadowell problem My dissertation looked at a prob-

This study follows a chronological

of England, the Meadowell estate.

tory. In turn this was supplemented

lem housing estate in the north East I aimed to explore the estate’s his-

torically negative reputation, and to

additionally document how changes in policy, built environment and social politics have shaped contemporary life there.

The work is structured as a history

with developments in built envi-

ronment and policy. Biographical and anecdotal expressions relevant to the estate were also placed lat-

erally. This contextualised popular opinion on the estate at different points in time.

of the estate, paralleled with devel-

One method of documentation was

and policy. This set a framework

area, of its built environment and

opments in its built environment on which the Meadowell’s contem-

porary life and reputation could be

explored. The investigation ran in continuance from the estate’s realisation to present day, therefore the

chapters simply act as loose points in time. It is divided in to six chapters, a conclusion and appendices.


framework through the estate’s his-

general photography round the residents. This chapter presents a few of those photos.

‘Mint views when the polis show up, see them miles away and just run off.’


Pheonix Detached Youth graffiti project

Non-functional surveillance camera


Christmas decorations on Avon Av

Cedarwood Trust


‘Shaka’s shop’

‘They blamed the graffiti on us and started locking the park up.’ ‘We did do it though.’


Conclusion This dissertation aimed to understand the origin of the Meadowell’s reputation as a problem estate, whilst additional investigating changes on the estate which may have influenced contemporary life. From it’s realisation, the estate’s community has been met with prejudice. Neighbouring areas made negative presumptions of the working class tenants. Likewise, local authority pursued degrading induction and subsequent bureaucracy. Council induced overcrowding is a theoretical factor to problem estates, yet no immediate social discord had surfaced. The estate offered a positive improvement for its residents, but was being unfairly labelled. By the late forties, the estate’s housing had begun to deteriorate. Local Authority had failed to carry out necessary maintenance, and the residents demanded an inquest. This was directed back at the estate, who’s community became scapegoats in local politics. Another blow to the estates reputation, widespread negative representation of its tenants. Through the sixties, the late maintenance was eventually undertaken with indifference from the council. The Housing Act saw the remaining unserviced dwellings modernised and the estate took on its second wave of slum tenants. Overcrowding increased and the estate became less desirable. The Meadowell took in those without a choice, problem households and the extremely poor. The induction of such households to a badly designed area, again contributed to the problem estate models.

However, there was still a lack of visible social discord. The following decade saw potential for large scale intervention; the CDP program was introduced to tackle national deprivation. It’s intensive research cut short after conflict with Local Authorities. This instilled a distrust of outside expertise in the estate; when paired with the growing discretion with the council, the estate was becoming insular. The CDP did influence a wave of community activism, groups emerged to tackle the ever increasing poverty. Nonetheless, by the eighties unemployment and youth boredom induced widespread crime. Criminal fraternities on the estate instilled terror; operating without fear of repercussion. The aforesaid processes which produce problem estates were now taking a hold; the estate was beginning to live up to the its reputation. The early nineties saw cuts in local authority funding for community development. Community groups lost their physical foothold. In addition crime was now an integral aspect of estate life; advances in policing humiliated the criminals and aggravated tensions. The deaths of two young men sparked backlash; the riot ensued.

nity groups reorganised and the estate began to improve. However, the estate would continue to suffer its intrinsic stigma. The estate was historically unfairly labelled, but contemporary Meadowell eventually embodied all three problem estate models. Overcrowding, poor design, problem tenants; sustaining a fourth generation of subculture. Decades after the riot, the estate’s latest physical incarnation has both promoted crime through layout, and sustained negative culture with bland prison-like aesthetics. Low social housing stock subjects the estate to high turnover, the community spirit of the late eighties hasn’t the time nor consistency to exist. Community groups fight to improve the estate, but face overwhelming stigma and pockets of regressive residents. When paired with the uncertain financial future the Local Authority and police face, this niche modern culture capitalises on the estate’s difficult history; justifying its aversion of progress with a common rhetoric ‘It’s only the Meadowell’.

This promoted national discussion on problem estates. Tony Gibson wrote a detailed five year plan with realistic short term goals. Instead a swift reactionary redevelopment was implemented. South Meadowell was sold to housing companies and reworked, the North was flattened and rebuilt. Commu-


Profile for Alex Mackay

Alex Mackay Architecture Portfolio Stage 3  

Work completed during third year of architecture at Newcastle university. Architecture BA Contact me at: alexwmackay@outlook.com

Alex Mackay Architecture Portfolio Stage 3  

Work completed during third year of architecture at Newcastle university. Architecture BA Contact me at: alexwmackay@outlook.com