Reclaiming a community from a failed attempt at urban renewal Bergen Arkitekt Skole
Diploma program 2014
Reclaiming a community from a failed attempt at urban renewal
Bergen Arkitekt Skole Diploma program 2014 Robert Moe
Reclaiming a community from a failed attempt at urban renewal The main focus for this diploma are the themes that surround the failed Housing Market Renewal project, an urban renewal scheme that was attempted in the north of England. The scheme will be told through the eyes of the people that were directly affected, the residents that moved on and the residents that were left over. The project will evolve through the mapping of their stories, taking the experiences of the people as a point of departure for an architectural answer. The investigation will concentrate on Gresham, a suburb of the town of Middlesbrough.
The connection The choice of Middlesbrough as a focus of my diploma project is not pulled from thin air. I moved to Middlesbrough to study in 1999 as an 18 year old, moving from home for the first time. Home up until that point had been a small rural village in Cheshire in the north west of England. My upbringing contrasted greatly to this â€œrough around the edgesâ€? industrial town I now found myself in. I loved it. During my time in Middlesbrough I was aware of the many social problems that the town has unfortunately become famous for. I was also aware of a different side of Middlesbrough, the warmth and genuineness of the local residents and the way in which they conduct themselves with a decaying industrial town as a back drop. This diploma project allows me a chance reconnect with a place from my memory or maybe a chance to discover a new town. Either way I feel that Middlesbrough represents a situation with which I have just enough personal attachment to develop an exciting diploma project.
Housing Market Renewal The Housing Market Renewal (HMR) initiative developed rapidly from the initial thinking and research into vulnerable housing markets in 1998/9 into a fully rolled out urban redevelopment scheme in 2003. HMR was a national scheme aimed at addressing â€œHousing Market Failureâ€? in the North of England. Housing Market Failure was defined as housing which, in local markets, was priced below the build cost, such that renovations were uneconomic and the sale of property would not generate sufficient funds to move elsewhere. The scheme involved purchasing properties in a chosen area through Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO), then demolishing the existing buildings before a private developer would move in and build new properties, selling them on for a profit. The Gresham area of Middlesbrough was defined as a Housing Market Failure and added to the HMR initiative in 2005.
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Newcastle-Gateshead Middlesbrough Hull Blackburn Oldham Liverpool Manchester Sheffield Stoke-on-trent Birmingham
Housing Market Renewal areas The HMR scheme was rolled out across several towns in the north of England. The scheme was collectively known as the Pathfinders scheme and each town/region was given a name that was designed to instil positivity and hope. Middlesbrough was part of the Tees Valley Living scheme which included the towns of Hartlepool, Redcar and Stockton-on-Tees. Bridging NewcastleGateshead Elevate East Lancashire Gateway Hull Manchester-Salford Partnership NewHeartlands Partners in Action Renew North Staffordshire Transform South Yorkshire Urban Living Tees Valley Living
Newcastle-on-Tyne and Gateshead Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn and Pendle Hull Manchester and Salford Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral Oldham and Rochdale Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, and Sheffield Birmingham and Sandwell Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar, Stockton-on-Tees
Project location: Overview The project will be based in Middlesbrough, a faded industrial town in the north east of England. Statistical profile of Middlesbrough and the ward of Gresham Total population for Gresham ward 9895. Total populaiton of Middlesbrough 140,990. Gresham total occupied households 4050. Middlesbrough total occupied households 58,300. Gresham houses occupied by their owners 49.9% Middlesbrough average 61.4%. Non-white population of Gresham 15.6%. Middlesbrough 6.3%. National 8.7%. Claiming benefits 27.5%. Middlesbrough: 23.8% Gresham ward residents in employment 45%. Middlesbrough 57%. Gresham total crime figure per 1000 population 168.6. Middlesbrough 119.6. Gresham violent crime per 1000 population 39.4. Middlesbrough is 25.9. Gresham burglary crime per 1000 population 19.2. Middlesbrough is 14.4. Gresham vehicle crime per 1000 population 26.8. Middlesbrough is 19.8.
Project location: Gresham Specifically the project will focus on the ward of Gresham, a part of Middlesbrough characterised by its terraced labyrinth of red brick houses. Itâ€™s streets date back to the early 1900s and housed families of blue collar workers that ensured the townâ€™s prosperity in the industries of steel and ship building.
Historical context: An industrial past In 1801 Middelesbrough was a small hamlet with a population of just 25. In 1829 a group of business men purchased a farm, having spotted the areaâ€™s potential as a port ideally situated for the transport of coal from the surrounding Yorkshire hills. In 1850 Iron stone was found nearby and this sped up development of the area as one of the countryâ€™s most important Iron and Steel manufactoring centers. By 1860 the population had risen to 19,000. Population peaked in the 1960s at almost 165,000 but has been in decline since the 1980s. Since the collapse of the large industries, Middlesbrough has been reliant on public sector work as itâ€™s main employment provider. A national report published in 2010 named Middlesbrough as being overly dependent on the public sector and the no.1 town in the UK that was most valunerable to public sector cuts.
The start of the problems In 2008 two events occured that caused the HMR scheme to fail. First came the financial crisis. This had two main effects, firstly, in-order to prop up other areas of the ecconemy, the government suddenly needed the money that had been set aside for the HMR scheme. Secondly, the private developers that had signed up to do the development work, retracted their interest as the people that the new properties would be sold to were the types of people that were suddenly unable to get a mortgage. The second event was that the British Government changed from the Labour governement to a collilision goverment led by the Conservative Party. The new governement were eager to stop the HMR scheme in order to fund their own political ideas. By early 2011, all of the HMR funding stopped.
The stituation today Today Gresham is in a state of limbo, stuck in the middle of a regeneration scheme that failed. Of the 1500 properties that were served CPOâ€™s, 800 are still occupied. This has resulted in a situation where the remaining property owners are unable to sell their property as a building due to be demolished has no resale value, yet the government no longer has the money to buy the building from them, or even complete the redevelopment of the buildings they have already purchased. The local council are at a loss as to their next step. Plans have been drawn up to refurbish, rather than demolish, the vacent house, houses once deemed unsuitable for modern living standards. However, even these refurbishment plans require an amount of money that the local council do not have.
Telling Stories The situation in Middlesbrough has had a deverstating impact on the local community. Decisions made at a national level have had a profound impact on the daily lives of every single resident of this HMR area. There is a frustration that their voices have not been heard throughout the process of the scheme and it is their stories that the diploma project will concentrate on. Speaking to residents that remain as well as residents that moved away. Interviews with local officials will help to give a rounded view of the situation, telling the same story from as many different perspectives as possible, finding where the battle grounds lie.
Working method Working with people will be the main point of departure for the project that will result in a better understanding of the situation and manifest itself as several interventions and small projects at various scales in situ. This will, over the course of the diploma, develop into some sort of architectural answer dependant on the findings during the research phase. It is the intension of the diploma to allow the investigations on the field trip to form the architectual response. This will allow the project to grow organically and without predjudice, culminating in a work that has layers of meaning.
Field trip. 6th February - 28th February A 22 day field trip to Middlesbrough, living in the center of Gresham, will be the basis of the investigations and registrations of the site. Field work will be conducted using various tools learnt throughout my education at Bergen Architect School. Primarily DAV will be used to document the stories of the people that I encounter. These stories will be recorded in video format, with the aim to produce a short documentry film. 1:1 drawing will help to bring forth qualities of the site and represent them in a more visual context, allowing for a greater understanding of the situation and how to react to the space. Several interviews with residents and council members have been arranged, as have meetings with a photographer, a local historian and a street poet. From these meetings I hope to gather a range of ideas of Middlesbrough through their respective areas of expertise.
Documenting a type of reality A documentry film will tell the story of the diploma project through the experiences of the people that it effected. The intension will be to produce a film that easily communicates the story of the failure of the Housing Market Renewal scheme and the effects that it has had on the community of Gresham. Interviews with the people that have been directly effected will allow them to tell their side of the story and give an insight to the impact HMR has had on the community. The documentry film will also be used in the exhibition as a tool of communicating the themes of the diploma clearly and concisely, allowing for a thorough understanding of the architectual work that will be on exhibition.
Becoming acquainted with the unfamiliar This diploma project focuses on an area in England that may be unfamiliar to people that had not been there. It is therefore important to find a medium to help to convey how Gresham and Middlesbrough function. In doing so, people who have not experienced the reality of life in the north east of England will be able to empathsie with the plight of these failing towns and connect with the themes of the project. The DAV investigations on the field trip will take the form of a film, adopting the avant-garde style of the work of Patrick Keiller. This film will be used to describe Middlesbrough and Gresham to an audience who may not find the town to be so familiar. In this way it is hoped the audience of the project will enjoy a greater understanding of the town that have never been to.
A documentry with elements of fiction Patrick Keiller is an architect turned film maker. The films he makes have been described as “essay film/experimental landscape study/cinematic state-of-the-union address”. Heiller makes documentry style films that covertly add elements of fiction. His point of entry for film making has been his interest in the surrealists’ notion of changing a city by changing the way we look at it. In his film “London” he uses static camera shots of London set to a narrated story of a man describing his relationship with his partner Robinson. The story blends truths and untruths to describe London in a way that opens the viewer to experience the city anew.
No ideas but in things In his epic poem Paterson, The American poet William Carlos Williams (1883.1963) coined the term “No ideas but in things.” regarded by many as being the single most important and influential idea within the relams of poetry from the past 100 years. Williams meant for poetry to focus on objects rather than mere concepts, on actual things rather than abstract characteristics of things. The mention of any object creates a visualized idea in our minds—we form an image of the thing. This does not happen at the mention of abstractions, like “truth”, or “memory”. Things can be tangible, such as a wheel barrow. Or things can be a behavior, such as a sidelong glance. The image of a thing creates an idea of what the thing means in the context it is used. An object does not need to be described in much detail to know what it is. We have an idea of it already, just at the mention of the word. Poetry will be used in the DAV process as a means to communicate the essence of Gresham in a clear and precise way.
“the concept of dwelling assigns importance to the forms of consciousness with which individuals perceive and apprehend geographical space. More precisely, dwelling is said to consist in the multiple “lived relationships” that people maintain with places, for it is solely by virtue of these relationships that space acquires meaning.” - Keith Basso Wisdom sits in Places: Landscape and language among the Western Apache
Creating sense of place The anthropologist Keith Basso, in his book “Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache” talks about the idea of space is created and conceived by the people that use it. When taking into account Basso’s observation whilst looking at the idea of urban renewal, it becomes obvious that urban renewal struggles to forge identity in these new developments because it removes the complex mesh of “lived relationships” from the place. Once an area has been flattened and new developments are built, the people moving into the area have very little connecting them to each other or the space they now occupy. It can take years for the place to start functioning as intended, or as is often the case, these newly developed areas never really flourish as they lack the vibrancy that comes through the complexity of a suburb that has evolved organically over time.
Holistic sustainability The concept of sustainability is a value that has long been championed at Bergen Architect School. This diploma will develop through consultations with Harald RĂ¸stvik, encorporaing a holisticd approach to sustainability from the beginning of the research phase. By taking sustainability into considderation at such an early point in the diploma project, the work will seamlessly integrate sustainable features without compromising the projectâ€™s natural development.
January February Diploma Presentation Three
Diploma Presentation Two
Delivery: Social Anthropology Diploma Presentation One
Development of project Sketching Modeling Recording Assembling Experimenting
Filtering of material Assessing Reviewing Editing
Middlesbrough: Depart Registrations mappings interviews DAV 1:1
May June July August
Public Exhibition: Closed
Diploma Ceremony Public Exhibition: Open
Exhibition: Preview day Exhibition: Final day Exam: Day One Exam: Day Two Exam: Day Three
Exhibition: Locale available Summer Party
Construction of exhibition
Reevaluating Generating Detailing Selecting Refining Finshing
CV Robert Moe
tel: (+47) 45670844
Bergen school of architecture Master courses:
2008-2014 Autumn 2012 Spring 2012 Autumn 2011
Master of Arts (MA) Architecture Double Home Urbanism Think Tank Bergen: Arna Emerging Artic Landscapes
Teesside University Teesside University Teesside University
2003-2004 2002-2003 1999-2002
Master of Arts (MA) Creative Multimedia Master of Arts (MA) Computer Animation Bachelor of Science (BSc) Media Production
Sep 2013 - March 2014
Employment BUG AS/Live Quiz AS 2006-2008 Lead VizRT operator/Motion graphic designer. Responsible for graphic profile of several television programs and television/cinema commercials. Seed Animation Studio Ltd 2004-2006 Founding member of London based animation studio with clients that include MTV, Nickelodeon and Channel 4.
Workshop Trestykker 2012 Easter/Summer 2012 Design and construction of intimate concert venue next to the Oslo Opera house using wood as the main construction material.