Introduction to Charrette
On the 2nd of October 2017 the students of Newcastle University’s Architecture, Planning and Landscape school embarked on their annual design Charrette week. The Charrette week is a time in which students of different ages and disciplines can bring their creativity together and exhibit their skills in new and exciting ways.
Coming from an undergraduate planning background this was my first experience of Charrette after 4 years at Newcastle university, but having friends and peers who had previously been a part of the event I was excited to finally get involved. I was not entirely sure of what to expect from event but the task and objectives were made clear following a short tour of Newcastle and introduction to our groups for the week.
The school was initially split into groups of 30 each being assigned a different task for the week. We were then further split in to 5 groups of 6 all working on separate projects and a single piece of work to connect the projects together. Our task was to discover a location within Newcastle that had an historic tale linked to it and to our best efforts recreate this story on video. However, to make this task more interesting no restrictions were set on how the video could be produced nor were we asked to retell the entire truth of the story, allowing us to showcase our own interpretations of Newcastle’s history.
The Design Process
Being the only 4th year Urban Designer among a group of 1st to 3rd year architects first introductions consisted mostly of explaining my background and the skills involved with being a designer. The contrast in disciplines and years allowed for a variation of views during our initial thoughts for this project and allowed us to develop an achievable plan for the coming week.
Between us we decided to look at the story of T Dan Smith, the former head of council for Newcastle and mind behind the pedestrian overhead walkways located around the city. Specifically, we focused on his unfinished walkway located down by the Quayside and attempted to portray his failed dreams of Newcastle being a city in the sky by comparing it to that of the unfinished walkway.
The group worked well in creating an idea for the video in which T Dan Smith’s story was told by clip its of speech from the former council leader, during his time in charge. Being a creative project we felt that the video didn’t do enough in portraying the story and so we also decided to build a model of the walkway showing his demise through pictures and images hanging off the model.
On the Friday, we were asked to present all of our projects within the space provided in the architecture studios. This was a great chance to see the work created by others who had been given the same brief as our own. But it also allowed us to see what the rest of the school had been doing with their Charrette, often looking at projects completely unaware of the task in which they had been given.
Overall my first experience of Charrette was an entertaining one and I was appreciative of having a group who were able to work together well on this project. I’d certainty take part in a project like this again and would recommend it to anyone given the opportunity.