The Farrell Centre—a new centre for architecture and cities in Newcastle, UK—opens its doors to the public on Saturday April 22, 2023.
Instigated by the distinguished architect-planner, Sir Terry Farrell, and based at Newcastle University, the centre emerges from Farrell’s belief that “every city needs a place where people can come together to debate its future.” Central to realising this mission are the Urban Rooms—spaces where visitors can reflect on the city of Newcastle and broader Tyneside conurbation as it is now, and, through interactive exhibits and events, make their voices heard in shaping how it might change in the future.
Working with the UK architecture and ideas studio CAN, the centre has conceived the Urban Rooms around three themes or actions—Plan, Build and Participate.
“Plan” centres on Farrell’s Newcastle City Masterplan, the model of which stands in the centre of this room, around which are displayed maps of the city from the sixteenth century to the present. At the core of Farrell’s model is the “Geordie Ramblas’—an imagined processional route from the quayside through the city centre to Exhibition Park. Although unrealised in its entirety, Farrell’s vision shows the potential of planning to not simply be a way of accommodating urban change, but of finding ways to harness the forces driving it—social, economic, technological, environmental—to reimagine the city for the benefit of everyone.
“Build” uses the centre’s own building as a case study for an exploration of the architectural process, from drawing board to the materials used in its construction. Planning played an important role in this process, as it does for all buildings which are to varying extents manifestations of particular planning policy choices on local, regional and national levels. Installations and activities bring to the fore planning’s longstanding role as a proposition for (urban) change. In revealing the different ways the city was reimagined in the past, we hope to inspire its reimagination today and in the future.
“Participate” features a range of displays and activities which invite visitors to reflect on how we use and understand the city. “Mapping Tyneside” captures the invisible networks and connections between the places that are meaningful to us. “The People’s Plinth” brings together objects that tell stories about the city. “Greetings from Tyneside” asks us to look at how we see ourselves and our city, and how we might describe it to those on the outside. Every experiences of Tyneside is equally valid and meaningful; we all need to be part of the process of creating a city that works for everyone.
The Urban Rooms are also where the centre holds its live programmes of talks, workshops and community forums, which together with displays, objects and activities, offer a vital platform for new and diverse ideas and perspectives around the future of Tyneside and of city-making more generally.
More with Less
Reimagining Architecture for a Changing World
April 22–September 10, 2023
Alongside the Urban Rooms, the opening of the Farrell Centre also marks the unveiling of its inaugural exhibition for which it has worked with four architectural practices and collaborators—Dress for the Weather, McCloy + Muchemwa, Office S&M and the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE) at Newcastle University—to create installations that challenge the ways we conceive, make and experience architecture in response to the seismic challenges of the climate emergency.
About the Farrell Centre
Located in a four-storey Victorian building in central Newcastle which has been transformed in a 4.6 million GBP building project, the Farrell Centre’s mission is to widen the debate around the crucial roles that architecture and planning play in the contemporary world in ways that are engaging, innovative and challenging.
The Farrell Centre is admission free and combines a public gallery, research hub, and community space, offering a variety of experiences for visitors of all ages. The centre’s programme is wide-ranging and inclusive: temporary exhibitions, public talks and debates, workshops and activities for schools, young people, community groups, events for built environment professionals, as well as publications, podcasts and other digital projects.