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The Malings is a housing development located in the lower Ouseburn Valley,  close to the River Tyne. Designed by Ash Sakula Architects and developed in partnership with Igloo Regeneration, Carillion and Gentoo Construction, the last of the 76 dwellings was completed in 2017. The Malings has won several design awards including the “Housing Design Award ‘Overall Winner’ 2016” and “Housing Design Project Award 2013”. The project is particularly notable for its strong relationship with its site and surroundings as well as its unusually high density, 76 dwellings on a 0.6 hectare site (120 du/ha). Although an assessment of the project in accordance with ‘Building for Life 12’ can be found already on the ‘Building for Life Homes’ website, I have conducted my own assessment below:

Integrating into the neighbourhood

1. Connections: ⊗ (good)

  • Revitalises Footpath along the East Bank of the Valley, connecting the Tyne Bar to the path further up the bank
  • Integrates into the existing road network
  • Well integrated into existing cycle infrastructure

2. Facilities and Services: ⊗ (good)

  • Close to a number of pubs and cafes
  • Retail units integrated on site but currently unoccupied
  • Within a twenty minute walking distance of many shops and services in Byker
  • City centre just over a half hour walk away

3. Public Transport: (okay, relatively poor considering its city location)

  • Twenty minute, uphill walk to Byker metro station
  • Twenty-five minute uphill walk to Manor’s metro station
  • Closest Bus Stops are on Walker road, approximately 5 to 10 minutes uphill walk

4. Meeting Local Housing Requirements: ⊗ (okay, no mixture of tenure types) 

  • Good mixture of house types and sizes
  • Mixture and integration of affordable and more expensive housing
  • No mixture of tenure types

Map showing the site (centre, bright red) showing its proximity to bus stops (purple), metro stops (cyan) and retail areas (green), concentric rings show approx. 5, 10, 20, 30 minute walking distances.

Creating a Place

5. Character: ⊗ (okay, good fit but visually bland)

  • Fits well into existing character of the area with brick construction and relatively simple forms (structures, windows etc.)
  • Some distinction house to house due to coloured doors and slightly different forms
  • Some facades are bland with little colour/material change and lacking in depth

6. Working with the site and its context: ⊗ (good)

  • Fits well with local character
  • Path and overlooking give it a good relationship with the Ouseburn
  • Uses the topography well

7. Creating well defined streets and spaces: ⊗ (okay, good overlooking but somewhat poor streetscape)

  • Streets are reasonably well marked and buildings turn corners well with some overlooking of every street and every angle
  • Some confusion with public and private spaces with a external space between gardens which encourages communal use but discourages public use
  • Low curbs, and blank walls where the building form narrows the roads ‘into’ the site area

8. Easy to find your way around: ⊗ (good)

  • Strong relationship with site topography gives the site natural orientation points
  • Some confusing paths and roads between blocks but overall fairly easy to navigate, not large enough a development to be an issue

Photograph showing the low curbs and somewhat unattractive vehicle entrance of the developmentPhotograph from across the Ouseburn, showing the development’s relatively bland facades (source: © Jill Tate)

Street and Home

9. Streets for all: ⊗ (good)

  • Streets encourage low vehicle speeds with some materiality changes and by not creating through routes.
  • Communal bin storage in the centre of the road area encourages some use (but in some ways limits the space’s uses as well)

10. Car parking: ⊗ (good)

  • On street parking well overlooked with parking regulations in place to discourage non-resident parking.
  • Under croft parking for residents

11. Public and private spaces: ⊗ (okay, good public and communal spaces but some confusion over private/public separation)

  • Some confusion with public and private space with an external space between gardens which encourages communal use but discourages public use. Overall the feel of these spaces is private (which presumably is the intention)
  • With the exception of the public footpath along the bank, the general feeling of the site is private, particularly due to the lack of front garden or boundary for each house
  • Public footpath along the bank is well overlooked and feels safe and well maintained

12. External storage and amenity space: ⊗ (good)

  • Some communal space for use by residents
  • Communal recycling bins avoid the need for each resident to have a private bin
  • Issues have arisen with bin collection
  • Under croft bin and storage space

Photographs of the gardens and communal spaces between terraces (bottom image source:

Link to the existing BfL assement of the Malings:

Link to Ash Sakula’s Website:

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509


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