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Geordie Ramblas

A deeper look at our ‘Geordie Ramblas’ model, conceived by Sir Terry Farrell, currently on display in our Urban Rooms.

The architect and urban planner Sir Terry Farrell has worked across the world, with major projects in London, Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong – and his home town of Newcastle. Here, he is responsible for the Quayside regeneration in the early 1990s, designing the Centre for Life in 2000 and transforming the former Hancock Museum into the Great North Museum in 2006, so it’s only natural that he would look at how to connect these cultural hubs across the city.

Among his many innovative projects at an urban scale was the ‘Geordie Ramblas,’ a pedestrian boulevard connecting the quayside to the Town Moor that he hoped would transform the city’s landscape and revitalise its cultural economy. A model was created in 2004 and the project would go on to be a keystone in Newcastle’s ‘European City of Culture’ bid for 2008 (which it ultimately went on to lose to Liverpool).

Along the route of the Geordie Ramblas was the Newcastle University campus for which Farrell had recently produced a ‘masterplan’. Masterplanning is a way of carefully planning how a large area, like a city or neighbourhood, should be developed. It involves looking at things like what buildings should go where, how people will move around, and what kind of environment should be created.

This is particularly important in an area that has been developed over hundreds of years such as Newcastle University campus, as the buildings are designed individually and masterplanning makes sure that these buildings all connect in a way that makes sense to its users.

The Geordie Ramblas would have been a 1.8km-long pedestrian street that ran from Claremont Road, past Tyneside Cinema and Theatre Royal, through the heart of Newcastle’s Quayside, to Baltic and Sage in Gateshead. Specific points of interest include a more pedestrian friendly crossing between Newcastle City Library (which would not be completed until 2009) and the Laing Art Gallery, across the blue carpet, and a new building next to Swan House roundabout that would house a Selfridges department store.

Like the Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, after which Farrell’s project is named, which is famous for its vibrant street life and bustling markets, the Geordie Ramblas envisioned a space that would encourage people to walk, shop, and socialize, and to showcase Newcastle’s unique cultural heritage. The route would be lined with cafés, restaurants, and shops that would link all the cultural venues along the route. Whilst the project was never realised, it remains a compelling vision of how a multilayered city could have been adapted to modern needs.

The Geordie Ramblas was designed by Sir Terry Farrell and partners at Farrells. This model was kept in Farrell’s London office until 2019 when Sir Terry Farrell donated his personal archive to Newcastle University. You can come and visit the model today in our Urban Rooms.

The key for the masterplan is as follows:
Yellow Cultural Buildings (Art Galleries, Museums, Libraries, Theatres, Music Halls)
Cyan Newcastle University Campus Buildings
Navy Civic Buildings
Orange Historic Buildings (Churches, Castles, Victorian Structures)
Purple Medical Facilities (Hospitals, GPs, Walk in Centres)