The Byker Wall
is the name given to a long unbroken block of 620 maisonette
s in the Byker
Byker is an inner city electoral ward in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in Tyne and Wear, England. It is in the east of the city, south of the Heaton area and north of St Peter's. Byker Metro station serves the area.The area also contains the Byker Wall estate. The population of the ward is...
district of Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...
. The block was designed by the notable architect Ralph Erskine
Ralph Erskine, CBRE, RFS, ARIBA was an architect and planner who lived and worked in Sweden for most of his life.-Upbringing and influences :...
assisted by Vernon Gracie, and was built in the mid-1970s. The Wall, along with the low rise dwellings built to its south, replaced pre war slum back-to-back housing. Its Functionalist Romantic styling with textured, complex facades, colourful brick, wood and plastic panels, attention to context and relatively low-rise construction represented a major break with the Brutalist
Brutalist architecture is a style of architecture which flourished from the 1950s to the mid 1970s, spawned from the modernist architectural movement.-The term "brutalism":...
high-rise architectural orthodoxy of the time.
Its innovative and visionary design has earned it many awards notably the Civic Trust Award, the Eternit Award, the Ambrose Congreve Award for Housing (in 1980) and the Veronica Rudge Green Prize for Urban Design from Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...
. The Wall has also been placed on UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...
's list of outstanding twentieth century buildings.
In 2003 the UK
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is a department of the United Kingdom government, with responsibility for culture and sport in England, and some aspects of the media throughout the whole UK, such as broadcasting and internet....
announced a proposal to award the Byker Estate, of which the Wall forms a part, a Grade II listed rating
as an example of outstanding architecture. In 2007 the Estate became a grade II* listed building
(grade two star).
Refurbishment of the whole estate was commenced in partnership with Your Homes Newcastlehttp://www.newcastle.gov.uk/core.nsf/a/yhn_home
, the social housing arm of Newcastle City Council
Newcastle City Council is the local government authority for Newcastle upon Tyne, a city in Tyne and Wear, England. The council consists of 78 councillors, three for each of the city's 26 wards...
. The work is being undertaken by Mansellhttp://www.mansell.plc.uk
, a division of Balfour Beatty
Balfour Beatty plc is a British construction, engineering, military housing, rail and investment services company. It is one of the largest construction companies in the UK, and the 15th largest in the world...
. The work involves careful reinstatement of original features and colour schemes, using modernised materials where possible, while retaining the look and feel of the 1970s design scheme. For example, a new coloured aluminium window frame has been designed to allow for improved security and insulation, without compromising the visual impact of the buildings. The most recent phase of this was due to be completed in June 2008. A bid for PFI funding from the Homes and Community Agency (to the value of £80 million) was sought in June 2009 to fund the project, which was estimated to cost £210 million, but was rejected as it did not meet the criteria.
On March 16th 2005 the architect of the wall died at the age of 91.
The Byker Wall was infamous as the home of "Ratboy" a juvenile delinquent who hid in its heating shafts when running from police during the 1990s.
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