design solutions

Newcastle reinvents its Boiler House

The university has turned its boiler room into a high-quality events space for congregations, receptions, musical performance, exhibitions and award ceremonies


HE King’s Road Boiler House is strategically located at the heart of Newcastle University’s historic

campus, adjacent to the Student’s Union, Armstrong Building and Student Forum. The Boiler House was acknowledged as being “the finest in the kingdom” of its kind when completed in 1923. Originally built to house the university

boilers, and with enough space to expand as the University developed and the estate grew, the university’s decision to demolish the adjacent Museum of Antiquities to create the Student Forum in 2012 - an open public square at the centre of campus for students and staff - led to a greater focus on the surrounding buildings and landscaping. This resulted in the redevelopment and reimagining of the Boiler House and its surrounding landscaping into a high-quality events space for congregations’ receptions, musical performance, exhibitions and award ceremonies. The £2m project has involved the

restoration of the building’s exterior and a full internal refurbishment of the eastern half of the building, using high quality design and materials.

The Boiler House is not a listed

building but its proximity to the main facade of the Grade II listed Armstrong Building, lends to it being considered part of the historic setting of this building. Howard Litchfield was appointed as

architect in 2016, through the project managers, Turner and Townsend to work with the University’s Estate Support Service (ESS) to develop the project. Howarth Litchfield’s brief was to convert the redundant half of the Boiler House building into a large multi-purpose events space, which, when combined with the recently completed ground floor refurbishment works within the adjacent Armstrong Building and its internal courtyard, would form a processional route through the University for ceremonial events. Howarth Litchfield’s appointment

involved providing architectural, building surveying and conservation services in coordination with ESS to develop the proposals further through to developed design and technical design, as well as the preparation and submission of all planning and building regulation applications. The team was also involved

Newcastle University’s Boiler House Image: Jill Tate

Original sky lights since replaced during the refurbishment

Full height curtain wall

replacing the original windows Image: Jill Tate

Original boiler house following strip out

in the preparation of the tender documents and remained part of the project team throughout the duration of the construction works on site, dealing with contractor’s queries on a day to day basis until completion of the works. The project evolved through the design

stages as the university defined the use of the building. This resulted in Howarth Litchfield

undertaking further building condition surveys of the external fabric of the building to assess and schedule the extent of repair works required by the principal contractor. Before starting the contract works, the

diversion of an existing high voltage below ground cable also had to be accommodated into the building contract which meant that works in the construction programme had to be re-sequenced to avoid delaying key milestone events in

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