A BRIEF HISTORY OF NORTHERN ARCHITECTURE
Northern Architecture was created in 1995 as the Northern Architecture Centre Limited. The four original subscribers to the company were the Newcastle Architecture Workshop, the Northern Branch of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Northern Architectural Association and the Centre for the Built Environment (the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and Northumbria University). These four separate bodies each had their own history - the Newcastle Architecture Workshop was created in 1977, the first body of its kind in the UK, dedicated to helping communities schools and colleges make positive changes to their own environment. The Northern Architectural Association was set up in 1851 by architects in the North East to promote the science and art of architecture.
The four bodies came together to raise funds for and build a centre that could bring together all of their functions under one roof- promoting and assisting architects, promoting architecture to the public, engaging and assisting schools and communities, and engaging other professionals in raising architectural standards in the North East.
Despite the efforts of many people and the support of many public bodies, the scheme to build a physical centre (a site on the north side of theTyne where the Millenium Bridge now sits) was withdrawn in 1998. To sustain some of the momentum that had been built up, Northern Arts (now Arts Council, England) gave funding for the post of Programme Director, which was created later that year. Operating as Northern Architecture the company was based in the premises leased by Newcastle Architecture Workshop from Newcastle City Council in the 13th century cloister of Blackfriars, in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Unfortunately in 1999 the Newcastle Architecture Workshop closed due to lack of funding. The Centre for the Built Environment also closed. However, in 2002 Northern Architecture received funding from the regional programme of CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, as did many of the other architecture centres that had emerged across the UK in the preceeding five years. This bolstered a growing national network of architecture centres, each working in their regions to engage the public in local placemaking and, in the affluent and regeneration-led era of the late 90's early 2000's, to champion good quality design in the built environment. Together with continued funding from the Arts Council, England, this enabled Northern Architecture to establish itself as a regional organisation and a leader in education for young people and communities on good design in placemaking and a champion for good design of the built environment in the North East. In 2005 Northern Architecture became a registered charity.
The economic recession of the late 2000's and a change in government greatly impacted on the built environment sector and the nature of redevelopment in the UK. For Architecture & Built Environment Centres (ABECs), this channelled their broad focus one of two ways, design quality advocacy and public engagement and education. For Northern Architecture the focus shifted to the latter and the concern for fairness and equality in placemaking.
The early 2010's saw the loss of public funding support for architecture centres and in the context of a competitive funding landscape for the third sector, in 2016 the trustees concluded that the Charity could no longer meet its charitable objectives and undertook a closure procedure.