"Big Impact" of "Diminutive" Northumberland Roundhouse development highly commended

The “big impact” of Northumberland’s “diminutive Rochester Roundhouse” has been praised by leading British architects.

The Royal Institute of British Architects Journal (RIBAJ) has Highly Commended the Roundhouse at Rochester in its MacEwen Award celebration of “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.

RIBAJ commended the project, referencing its position within the Northumberland National Park, saying: “Any building makes a big impact, no matter how small. And the diminutive Rochester Roundhouse certainly does.
“Rochester Roundhouse stood out for this year’s MacEwen Award judges both for its tangible ‘high-class’ design and nice detailing, as well as its teaching and learning programme to produce architecture graduates with experience working on live, budget-conscious projects from beginning to end.”

Graham Farmer, Newcastle University’s Director of Architecture said: “I am delighted that the talent, hard work and dedication of our students has been recognised by the MacEwen Award.  It is particularly rewarding that the judges have acknowledged the high quality of the design and detailing as well the long-term benefits of a teaching and learning approach that engages students with real world challenges.”

Peter Sharpe, Kielder Art & Architecture curator, said: “It is fantastic to get national recognition of the value of the Rochester Roundhouse to the wider community. The development was the result of outstanding collaboration between partners and the community and this recognition from the Royal Institute of British Architects reflects that collective spirit and ambition to create something lasting.

“Many hours of planning and hard work went into creating this superb community facility and for me it is particularly encouraging to see the local community’s proactive role in the development of the design being recognised as part of this award.”

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.