Architects recognise Northumberland roundhouse development

From left, Peter Sharpe, Kielder art and architecture curator; Lord Redesdale; Lynn Turner, director, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust; Natasha Hemsley, NUSU Go volunteer; Northumberland county councillor Anne Dale; Red Kellie, vice-chairman of Rochester Village Hall; Professor Graham Farmer, Newcastle University. Picture by Neil Denham
From left, Peter Sharpe, Kielder art and architecture curator; Lord Redesdale; Lynn Turner, director, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust; Natasha Hemsley, NUSU Go volunteer; Northumberland county councillor Anne Dale; Red Kellie, vice-chairman of Rochester Village Hall; Professor Graham Farmer, Newcastle University. Picture by Neil Denham

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 McEwen 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.

Graham Farmer, Newcastle University’s director of architecture, said it was ‘wonderful’ that the project was gaining attention through a national 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.

Professor Farmer 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 multimillion-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.”