'Shieling: Building Community Spaces', Shieldfield, Newcastle

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The event will involve talks by Mairi McFadyen, (The Shieling Project), Luke Devlin, (Centre for Human Ecology) and Julia Heslop (artist and research fellow in Architecture, Newcastle University).

The neighbourhood of Shieldfield has been privy to rapid urban development - large, generic new-build blocks of student accommodation, affecting the character and social mix of the area, whilst there are also a lack of spaces where existing residents can gather. In response to this context, and as part of an ongoing arts based community project Dwellbeing, Shieling has emerged, not only as a physical space, but also as a symbol, to widen imaginations about the future of Shieldfield.

Shieling, referring to a hut or shelter built on common land and lived in through summer by farming communities, will function as a learning space to be used for community meetings, research events, classes and groups. It seeks to challenge generic forms of urban development, by querying how a building, through its design and materiality can reflect the history and identity of a place and its people, and seeks to propose alternative, co-produced visions of the city through a co-design and co-build process with local residents.

Through the lens of Shieling this event will provoke questions about ecological and participatory building typologies; the role that learning can play in co-design/build processes; how production and consumption norms can be challenged through the use of locally abundant and reclaimed materials; how the materiality of a building can reflect place and history; and how physically rooting in place, through the creation of a new building, can prompt community claims to contentious urban space, and open up spaces of commons in the face of enclosure.

Mairi McFadyenComment