Architecture Week 2005: A Room With A View – Of Byker

By David Prudames | 17 June 2005
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Shows a lithographic photo taken through a pinhole camera of a garden.

Spanish Garden by Judy Thomas. © Judy Thomas.

Depending on your view a stunning architectural experience might be found below the domed glory of St Paul’s Cathedral, watching the sun glint on Foster’s gherkin or gazing humbly up at the industrial might of Tate Modern; but probably not wandering through a housing estate.

However, for one week, the view from a flat in the Byker area of Newcastle-upon-Tyne will provide the venue for what its owner hopes will be just that.

In honour of Architecture Week 2005 (June 17-26) Acting Head of Education and Public Programme at Gateshead’s Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art Judy Thomas has turned her flat into a gallery, her view into art.

Visitors who pop round will be able to gaze out of Judy’s window upon the landscape of Byker, which she describes as "an excellent example of well designed integrated social housing." Architecture Week has offered her the chance to get more people to see things her way.

Shows a lithographic photo taken through a pinhole camera of a heating plant on a housing estate.

Heating Plant by Judy Thomas. © Judy Thomas.

"I hope people will take away with them a positive lasting impression of this fabulous view and well designed living space," she says. As for the wider influence of Architecture Week, Judy explains: "It generates an awareness of the built environment, which is something that people can easily take for granted – when it should be explored and celebrated."

As well as taking in the view, visitors who make an appointment by contacting Judy at will be able to get a sense of life in Byker through a series of lithographic photos taken using pinhole cameras.

Made out of rubbish, mostly old beer cans, the cameras were positioned all around Sir Ralph Erskine’s Byker Wall estate. Set to snap so-called ‘community moments’, images include shots of Bigg Market and Newcastle’s Quayside.

Shows a lithographic photo taken through a pinhole camera of the view along a walkway in what appears to be a block of flats.

Looking Along by Judy Thomas. © Judy Thomas.

Architecture Week is organised by Arts Council England and is a joint initiative with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in association with the Architecture Centre Network. In the north east proceedings are being overseen by Northern Architecture and events also include a new work by Italian artist Maurizio Cannavacciulo in the Level 5 viewing box at Baltic.

But, as the national public celebration of contemporary architecture, there are events, activities, talks, tours and exhibitions going on throughout the week, all over the country.

There’s the ever-present RIBA Architect in the House scheme, whereby anyone can get a qualified individual to come round and discuss the design potential of their home in return for a £25 donation to Shelter. But from the Royal Academy to Pendle shopkeepers, there’s plenty to choose from.

Shows an aerial photo of Lincoln Cathedral.

Gherkins and wobbly bridges? They knew what to do with a bit of stone and a plumb line back in medieval times too - here's Lincoln Cathedral. Courtesy RIBA.

Over in the north west, the designer of the new Home Office building in London will be giving a talk at the RENEW Rooms in Liverpool on June 23.

Shops are the stars of the show at the Mid Pennine Gallery in Burnley (June 22-25) where photographer Gavin Parry has documented the changing face of local shops in Pendle.

In Yorkshire, Ghosts in the Attic is on show until June 24 and sees the works of five artists occupy the attic of a Grade II listed clergy house in Leeds. Meanwhile, you can check out the proposed designs for a new museum and library in Castleford on June 24 and 25 at the Regeneration Centre.

In the midlands the New Art Gallery Walsall is holding a free form running event at which practitioners will discuss their discipline with architects on June 25, while an open top bus tour of Birmingham takes place on June 18/19.

Shows a photo of the tall, thin National Space Science Centre in Leicester.

A rather tall room with a view - the National Space Science Centre in Leicester. Courtesy RIBA.

Fancy a view from above? The Nicholas Grimshaw Architects designed National Space Science Centre in Leicester is offering visitors a chance to regard the east midlands from the top of its tower throughout the week.

In the east, the architects behind the American Air Museum at Imperial War Museum, Duxford will give talks and lead a tour around their creation on June 24. Over in Much Hadham at the Henry Moore Foundation a major new exhibition is exploring the conflict between Moore’s love of nature and the tendency for his work to be shown in urban environments.

Shows a photo of the curved building which houses the American Air Museum at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.

The American Air Museum at Duxford.

In Oxford, right at the centre of the University Parks, a 30 foot high radio telescope operated by artist and musician Jem Finer will be receiving the sounds of the Universe until June 22. While in Bexhill on June 23 a hard-hat tour of the much-loved De La Warr Pavilion is taking place between 6.00pm and 7.30pm.

The new environmentally sustainable National Trust headquarters in Swindon will be opening its doors for special tours on June 26. And on June 22 in Devonport you can snoop around the redeveloped Royal William Victualling Yard designed by Sir John Rennie for the Royal Navy.

In the capital, there are many, many events to choose from including a daring tour through Brunel’s first project: the tunnel under the Thames on June 18/19/25/26 starting at the Brunel Engine House Museum. Or try the Herzog and de Meuron exhibition at Tate Modern, on show until August 29.

Shows a photo of the frontage of the National Theatre on London's South Bank.

Love it or loathe it? The National Theatre on the South Bank in London. Courtesy RIBA.

Meanwhile, up in Scotland, the Cinema City exhibition at The Lighthouse runs June 24-26 and will explore the internal and external architecture of Glasgow’s once grand Picture Palaces.

But if you fancy looking forward rather than back, have a look at the Archiprix International 2005 Exhibition in the same building where the best graduation projects from the International Schools will be on show.

Back down in Wales Gerallt Nash, curator of Historical Buildings at the Museum of Welsh Life, St Fagan's, will lead a tour and talk on the rebuilding of St Teilo’s Church in Welsh (June 22) and in English (June 23).

Architectural photographer James Morris will give a talk about Africa adobe architecture on June 19 at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. But if you can't catch that you can see his photos of west Africa at the same place from June 28-July 16.

Shows a photo of the exterior of the Bar Library in Belfast.

You can take a tour around Belfast Bar Library, the Civic Trust's Best Building in the Public Realm for 2004, during Architecture Week 2005. © Chris Hill.

Across the Irish Sea there’s a public art walking tour taking in Belfast’s many notable works on June 22 and on June 24 architect John Fitzgerald will lead a tour of his award-winning Bar Library building.

This is of course a mere snapshot of what’s going on throughout what is an absolutely packed week. To find out what's on in your area, visit the event website at

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