Oystershell design for learning and teaching centre reflects site history

A £35m Newcastle University building taking shape on Newcastle Helix has been designed to reflect the site’s unusual past.

Located on Oystershell Lane, the building is inspired by the distinctive, nineteenth century house that used to be on the site and from which the road took its name.

Oystershell House, as it was called, was built in the 1800s and every bit of the building - with the exception of the roof - was encrusted in oyster shells.

In the Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend (1890) by Newcastle resident John McKay, he describes the building vividly:

“Oystershell Hall derived its name from the circumstance that the whole of the building, except the roof, but including the chimneys, was covered with oystershells, the concave side, or inside outwards. When the sun shone on them, the effect was brilliant.”

Designed by architects Sheppard Robson, the new Learning and Teaching Centre, with its dynamic sweeping glazed curve, is an important reference to its location on Oystershell Lane on Newcastle Helix.

Excellent facilities for learning and teaching

Due to open in 2019, the new facility will seat 750 people in the auditorium and 200 more in a collaborative lecture theatre on the ground floor, plus a range of seminar rooms on upper floors.

Professor Suzanne Cholerton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Newcastle University, said: “Reflecting the rich history of Newcastle and the region, this flagship development will provide our students and staff with excellent facilities for learning and teaching.

"The development of this exciting, new, purpose-built educational space reflects our continued commitment to delivering the best possible experience for our students.”

Rupert Goddard, partner at Sheppard Robson and alumnus of Newcastle University, said: “The shell-like curvature of the new building – whilst referencing the site’s past – has been designed to visually connect two public spaces within the Newcastle Helix masterplan that are adjacent to the project. “The building’s form knits together a number of different uses and thinks carefully about how the public spaces around the site relate to one another.”

The Learning and Teaching Centre is part of the Newcastle University portfolio of projects aimed at supporting the delivery of an outstanding student experience. Other initiatives include a £32m investment in new state–of-the-art sports facilities, the opening of the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms and the £75.5m Park View Student Village, which will open its doors to 1,300 students this September.

(Original article on Newcastle University website)

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