Urban Adventures

Anti-heroic housing -1970s

Byker Wall, Byker housing redevelopment

Byker Wall, Byker housing redevelopment, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1970s
Designer: Ralph Erskine
© RIBA Library Photographs Collection

Ralph Erskine designed the Byker housing development as 'anti-heroic' - the architect's vision was not the sole driver of the design. He designed for the inhabitants (in some cases to accomodate the needs of specific families) of the complex rather than to convey a specific artistic or professional ideology.

Built between 1969 and 1982, Erskine's design considered the needs of the residents and fostered a sense of identity that earlier Modernist flats had failed to achieve. Built in phases to enable the original residents to remain in the area, the new development replaced much of the previous terraced housing and created more green space. The large, blank façade of the Byker Wall, a prominent multi-story element of the scheme, was designed to shelter the rest of the complex from the noise of the Metro station and a planned motorway. Colourful balconies arranged in a random order break down the mass of the block, while variations in the landscape and building form provide visual interest.

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