Architecture student John picks up prize

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AN architecture student has come up with an innovative idea to turn a half-finished development into a modern multi-use building.

John Beattie’s suggestion to transform the abandoned steel skeleton, in High Street West, Sunniside, earned him the runner-up spot and a £2,000 prize in a competion.

John Beattie runner up in the Forgotton Spaces architecture award in High Street West, Sunderland.

John Beattie runner up in the Forgotton Spaces architecture award in High Street West, Sunderland.

The 26-year-old, from Tunstall, who is in his sixth year at Newcastle University, used his proposal for the North East version of Forgotten Spaces 2012.

The competition is run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba), inviting students, artists and designers to come up with imaginative uses for vacant and lost sites in the region.

John’s project was an adaptable architectural system to inhabit what was intially to be a six-storey development of 62 apartments and retail units, whihc saw work started in 2007 but never finished.

“During the construction phase, financial problems caused by the recession brought work on the site to a stand still,” he said.”

John’s scheme involved flexible units to cater for clients’ requirements, using a standard kit of parts and an interchangeable panelling system.

He said: “The proposal is underpinned by a new type of architectural system, allowing adaptability, fewer restrictions, efficient extensions and no vacant spaces.

“The system would inhabit the redundant frame and change to meet market demand and satisfy multiple uses for buying and renting.”

John would like to get people talking about underused spaces, in the hope of pushing forward regeneration in Sunderland.

“As well as being extremely pleased about the award, I’m also hoping to provoke a response from the council and local developers into how to move development forward in this area of the city centre,” he said.

More than 50 students, artists, designers, planners and architects entered the Riba contest.

An exhibition showcasing all of the 21 finalists is in the Newgate Shopping Centre, Newcastle, until December 14. Twitter: @sunderlandecho