A couple of weeks ago Luke was up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and whilst there visited the area around the Ouseburn Valley. Historically the valley was the cradle of industrialisation in Newcastle with activity focused around the tidal River Ouse and has a history stretching back as far as the Roman period. The area is currently being slowly regenerated after being left in a post-industrial malaise for a lengthy period.
The architects Ash Sakula have been involved in the valley and the local community for over 10 years. The most obvious result of this work to date is the Malings - a residential development near the mouth of the Ouse where it enters the Tyne.
There are several housing types arranged into a series of splayed terraces running down the slope of the valley with pockets of public space created in-between the groupings and at the foot of the hill on the river front. There is a diverse range of housing types including courtyard houses, tower houses, terraced house and a modern interpretation of the ‘Tyneside flat’ in the stacked duplex flats. The mix of house types combined with the arrangement of the terraces on the hill creates a visually dynamic complex when viewed from the opposite side of the valley that is reminiscent of a Tuscan hill town - a Geordie San Gimigiano.
The simple and robust materiality sits well in the urban context and makes the development feel at home with the surviving industry that surrounds it. The limited material palette reinforces the coherence of the architectural ensemble and avoids becoming banal with subtle shifts in the plan creating a varied fenestration pattern, variable parapet heights and slight cranks, and curves in the elevations that follow the curves of the river and hillside helping to open up the facades to the spaces carved out for public use.
These small spaces also have a flavour of the Tuscan hill town - the communal gardens and bike/recycling stores creating a meeting at the village well moment. The largest of these spaces in particular is so evocative that one could be forgiven for thinking they have been transported to the Piazza della Cisterna in San Gimigiano. In-between the terraces small private gardens and terraces lead onto larger shared gardens that are only accessible to the residents which again leads to a diverse range of spatial experiences contained within a cohesive overall complex.
Following his visit Luke was keen to share this project with the rest of the studio and we have all been enjoying studying the development drawings and models produced by Ash Sakula - the rough and ready cardboard model with line drawn vehicles and internal lights is a real thing of beauty!
Ash Sakula’s website has lots more information about the development which can be found here: https://www.ashsak.com/projects/malings