Architects recognise Northumberland Roundhouse Development with prestigious shortlisting

A dilapidated Brigantium roundhouse site in Northumberland that was transformed into a centre for village activities has been shortlisted for a major architecture award.

The Royal Institute of British Architects Journal (RIBAJ) has named the Roundhouse at Rochester on the shortlist for its MacEwen Award, which represents “Architecture For The Common Good”.

The development at Rochester was carried out by students from Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, working in partnership with the local community  and Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust’s Art & Architecture programme.

Students worked closely with the local community to design and construct an open air amphitheatre and contemporary timber pavilion to be used for stargazing, musical performances, and a range of community workshops.

Redeveloping the roundhouse was the latest part of an ongoing collaboration between the School of Architecture and the Development Trust to create public facing architectural commissions and activities. Past work has included constructing a Stargazing Pavilion at Stonehaugh in 2014, and The Warm Room on Kielder’s community campsite in 2015.

Graham Farmer, Newcastle University’s Director of Architecture said: “It is wonderful that another one of our projects at Kielder is gaining attention through a national architecture award, especially as this one recognizes work carried out for the common good and with social responsibility. The Rochester Roundhouse may be modest in scale but it embodies huge ambition and goodwill on behalf of all those involved. We are competing against multi-million pound projects for this award but the Roundhouse really offers something unique.”

Peter Sharpe, Kielder Art & Architecture curator, said: “This shortlisting is very exciting for everyone involved in the Roundhouse development, including the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, Newcastle University and the local community. Many hours of planning and hard work went into creating this superb community facility and it is wonderful to see it recognised in this way. A particularly rewarding part of the process was the local community’s proactive role in the development of the design.”

Support from the project came from a range of organisations. The Newcastle University Students' Union (NUSU) Go Volunteer scheme funded the drystone walling training and sessions, students' expenses and use of its people carrier. Alongside students from the UK, volunteers from Malaysia, Oman, the UAE, China, Germany and Canada took part in the project.

Other support from partners included Northumberland National Park Authority funding the sedum roof, money from County Councillor John Riddle through the Member's Local Improvement Scheme for the decking and disabled access ramp, and funding from Northumberland County Council's Community Chest, which covered groundworks, fencing, windows and stargazing equipment. Funding and support also came from Arts Council England, Lord Redesdale, Redefest, and the Sir James Knott Trust.

The winners of the RIBAJ awards will be announced online in the coming weeks. The Roundhouse will compete with a broad spectrum of other developments, including the redevelopment of Hastings pier after a fire and Sheffield Foodhall.

Architects recognise Northumberland Roundhouse Development with prestigious shortlisting