Ice Breaker: Brasilia of the North
I’m a final year masters of architecture student. I have chosen to study urban design for my elective route in order to supplement my architecture studies with an understanding of the greater urban scale. It has been interesting to study theories that I have learnt about through architecture via a different lens of urban design. Radical ideas, such as those of modernism, can have an even greater impact on the population than they can in architecture.
I was shocked to discover a proposal that nearly demolished one of my favourite parts of Newcastle in 1967 called the All Saints Scheme. In the early to mid twentieth century, the mentality was ‘out with the old and in with the new’ and vast areas of historic urban fabric were marked for demolition. This included the historic buildings on the Quayside in Newcastle which were set to be replaced by modernist office buildings as part of a radical remodelling of the city which was to be known as the ‘Brasilia of the North’.
Thankfully, attitudes toward historic preservation and large scale ‘top down planning’ have changed and there is now a much more people-centric approach to urban design, inspired by the work of William Whyte, Jane Jacobs and Jan Gehl in the later twentieth century and the revisited studies of Camillo Sitte’s work from the pre-industrial era.
I’m looking forward to studying their work and learning how to develop safe, healthy and sustainable urban spaces which have a people focus. As Jane Jacobs said, ‘design is people’.
Figure 1: Morton, D (2017). See how a radical plan 50 years ago might have changed this Newcastle Quayside view. Available at: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/history/see-how-radical-plan-50-12743655 (Accessed: 30.11.23)