Urban Rooms in Farrell Center

Farrell Center– a new architecture and city center in Newcastle, UK – opens its doors to the public on Saturday, April 22, 2023.

Initiated by the eminent architect-planner Sir Terry Farrell and based at Newcastle University, the center stems from Farrell’s belief that “every city needs a place where people can come together to debate its future”. Central to this mission are the Urban Rooms – spaces where visitors can reflect on what is now Newcastle and the wider Tyneside conurbation, and through interactive exhibitions and events have a voice in shaping how it may change in the future.

Working with British architectural studio and the inventive CAN, the center created Urban Rooms around three themes or activities – Plan, Build and Participate.

“Plan” focuses on Farrell’s Newcastle city master plan, whose model stands in the middle of this room, around which maps of the city from the 16th century to the present day are displayed. At the core of Farrell’s model is the ‘Geordie Ramblas’ – an imaginary procession route from the waterfront through the city center to Exhibition Park. Farrell’s vision, though unfulfilled, demonstrates the potential of planning not only as a way to adapt to urban change, but also to find ways to harness the forces that drive it – social, economic, technological, environmental – in order to reimagine the city for the benefit of all.

“Build” uses the center’s own building as a case study to explore the architectural process, from the drawing board to the materials used in its construction. Planning has played an important role in this process, as with all buildings, which to varying degrees reflect specific planning policy choices at local, regional and national levels. The installations and activities highlight the longstanding role of planning as a proposal for (urban) change. By revealing different ways of reimagining the city in the past, we hope to inspire them today and in the future.

“Participate” includes a range of exhibitions and activities that invite visitors to reflect on how we use and understand the city. Mapping Tyneside explores the invisible networks and connections between places that matter to us. “Pedinage of the People” brings together objects that tell the story of the city. From Tyneside with Love invites us to look at how we see ourselves and our city, and how we might describe it to outsiders. Every Tyneside experience is equally important and meaningful; we all need to be part of the process of creating a city that works for everyone.

Urban Rooms is also where the center hosts live programs of talks, workshops and community forums which, together with shows, items and activities, provide a vital platform for new and diverse ideas and perspectives on the future of Tyneside and the making of cities more generally.

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A new vision of architecture for a changing world

April 22 – September 10, 2023

In addition to the Urban Rooms, the opening of the Farrell Center also marks the unveiling of its inaugural exhibition, which it has worked on with four architectural studios and collaborators:Dress for the weather, McCloy + Mourning, S&M office and Biotechnology center in the built environment (HBBE) at Newcastle University – to create installations that challenge the ways we understand, create and experience architecture in response to the seismic challenges of the climate crisis.

About the Farrell Center

Housed in a four-storey Victorian building in the center of Newcastle that has been transformed in a £4.6 million building project, the Farrell Center’s mission is to broaden the debate on the key roles that architecture and planning play in the modern world in an engaging, innovative and requiring.

The Farrell Center is free and combines a public gallery, research center and community space, offering a variety of experiences for visitors of all ages. The center’s program is broad and inclusive: temporary exhibitions, public talks and debates, workshops and activities for schools, youth, community groups, events for professionals dealing with the built environment, as well as publications, podcasts and other digital projects.