Newcastle Helix is a landmark 24-acre hybrid city-centre quarter, built for international tech and science businesses, the local community and residents. Its collaborative environment is unlike anything else in the UK. It is a place where hundreds of innovators, businesses and homeowners live and work side by side, right next to fantastic places to eat, drink and be entertained.

The three partners – Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council (for the whole Newcastle Helix development) and Legal and General (for The Lumen and The Spark buildings), have seen those businesses locating to Newcastle Helix benefit greatly from being in the centre of one of the most important innovation hubs in Europe. And will also create an exciting new community by providing 450 homes.

The benefits to the region continue with the latest figures from The Department for International Trade (DIT) showing that the North East has outperformed every other English region outside London on the number of new jobs created from foreign direct investment in 2019/20, relative to its population. New, state-of-the-art offices such as The Lumen on Newcastle Helix are giving investors’ confidence that they can grow their business in North East England and become part of one of the UK’s most dynamic economies.

Mike Goodall, OOBE Director explained: “It is fantastic to be involved in such an exciting development where both building and landscape design play such a fundamental part in helping to creating a new vibrant community. We’ve been privileged to be involved in three of the current eleven buildings on Newcastle Helix, home to companies delivering world-leading research and technological advances. The region has a rich history of world-changing inventions and innovations and we are proud to be part of this ongoing story.”

In partnership with Ryder Architecture, our involvement on Newcastle Helix has been an intensive design journey which has married the ambitions of stakeholders, including those of Newcastle City Council’s Planning department, with the need for our designs to fit into the overall Helix masterplan which features an overarching SuDS scheme.

The Biosphere saw us deliver a contemporary, elegant and high-quality landscape design. Tucked away, its outdoor tiered space provides a place for the building’s users to enjoy relaxing in and a series of rain gardens and informal planting provide increased biodiversity and year-round interest.

Sean Trott, Project Manager at Newcastle City Council commented: “We are delighted with the high-quality finish of this scheme in the heart of the city. It will help deliver the aspirations of Newcastle City Council for Newcastle Helix to be a place that people want to live, work and play and lead to the creation of jobs and further investment to benefit local people.”

Following this successful project, we were commissioned to deliver the landscape design on The Lumen and The Spark and the connecting infrastructure works.

The Lumen and The Spark designs have been developed as two individual schemes but within an overarching masterplan. Flexibility has been a key driver in the high-quality landscape design to cater for a variety of events throughout the year, commercial uses, student life and the nearby community.

Jonathan Seebacher, Architectural Director at Ryder Architecture commented: “The Lumen has been a particularly rewarding project as it forms an integral part of the landmark Newcastle Helix community. We have collaborated with OOBE on many projects over the years.  Through our combined design expertise, we have delivered a state-of-the-art building and public realm that successfully combined the industrial heritage of the former Scottish and Newcastle Brewery site with the collaborative vision for those using The Lumen.”

The main feature of our design is a public square which connects The Lumen and The Spark and is a place where the community can take time to relax on benches and enjoy nature. Our nature-based solution is part of the Helix SuDS and futureproofs the site to climate changes. The native trees, low-maintenance moisture-loving plants and rain gardens attracts wildlife to this former brownfield site.

Steve Jones, Associate Director at Potter Raper, Project Manager for the Lumen and The Spark said “Our ethos is to provide the highest quality construction consultancy services in the industry. This has been successfully achieved on The Lumen. It has been a pleasure to work with OOBE, who share our approach and have delivered a high-quality and sustainable landscape design for this BREEAM Excellent rated building.”

The collaborative ethos of the multi-disciplinary teams involved on all three of the Newcastle Helix projects has ensured the successfully delivered of exemplar schemes that will be enjoyed by many for years to come.