The Helix is a ground-breaking innovation district that brings together industry-leading scientists, research, and technology firms to transform the quality of life for families, communities, and cities worldwide. A joint venture between Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University, Helix is the largest development of its kind in the UK, regenerating 24 acres of former industrial land into a new mixed-use community innovation hub, providing a variety of research and development, educational, business and residential uses in the heart of Newcastle.
Gillespies delivered the public realm around two of the main academic buildings at Newcastle University – the Frederick Douglass Centre, a state of the art conferencing and teaching facility, and the Catalyst, home to the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) and the National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD). Gillespies’ design encourages collaboration and healthy living, and provides a pioneering research tool for combating climate change.
Sustainability was at the heart of the masterplanning and design process. Vast swathes of flowering perennials form part of the wider campus green infrastructure, and a network of swales, rain gardens and overland flood routes showcases a holistic water and flood management strategy.
The design celebrates the substantial level changes while maintaining a fully accessible and inclusive environment for everyone, creating a coherent and fully integrated piece of the wider public realm masterplan and design coding.
The landscape design encourages collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and ideas within the community. Gillespies worked closely with the University research teams to develop the public realm as a live testbed and ‘outdoor living lab’ for exploring the pioneering research on carbon capture within soil mediums, which will provide an ongoing evidence base and environmental research tool for reducing the carbon footprint of construction projects for the future and combating climate change.
Landscape Architecture: Gillespies
Project Website: Helix Innovation Quarter
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Sheppard Robson Architects; GSS Architects
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2019
Photographer: Giles Rocholl