We are delighted that, after being shortlisted for the recent RICS Awards 2016 in three categories, Live Works was certified as ‘Highly Commended’ in both the Commercial and Tourism & Leisure categories (narrowly beaten by Hoults Yard and the Crowne Plaza Hotel respectively).

Live Works is a new £10m scheme by Live Theatre to develop new commercial office space, a pocket park and a children and young people’s writing centre, called Live Tales, on Newcastle’s Quayside. It is the fourth and most ambitious enterprise that Live Theatre has delivered and is the final element of Live Theatre’s development of a cultural hub combining work and leisure opportunities of the highest quality.

From the Quayside, the elegant stone façade of the new office space gives nothing away. Pass through the colonnade and the historic Trinity Chare opens out to reveal a courtyard enclosed by the contemporary brick detailing of the rear of the new Live Works office building which sits alongside Live Theatre itself, its gastropub The Broad Chare, and its existing commercially let office space in The Schoolhouse and the grade II listed alms house. This pocket park brings vital green space to an area otherwise lacking. The sites history as former burgage plots – medieval plots with narrow street frontages accessed via alleyways, or Chares – is reflected in the paving of the courtyard. The plot outlines create a linear network across the site upon which the organic, curving forms of the planting beds and grass intertwine. A focal point is formed by the stage adjacent to the Live Tales building and a space capable of seating 100+ people sits amongst tall grasses forming a curtain to the performance space. Colourful perennial planting throughout add to the drama of the space. Working closely with the Live Theatre and Architects Flanagan Lawrence we created a flexible, publicly accessible space that will host a range of activities and events likely to include markets, script readings and film screenings.

The space will be managed and programmed by Live Theatre and in daily use by tenants, neighbours and the public, transforming this part of the Quayside.

There were challenges which included meeting tight funding timescale deadlines, working on a restricted City Centre site, meeting strict planning requirements, overcoming foundation (underground car park and large ventilation shafts) and archaeological obstructions.

The development, which fills a key gap on the Newcastle Quayside next to the listed Custom House is being supported by the North East European Regional Development Fund, and loans from Newcastle City Council and North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

A launch event is planned for late Spring 2016. We looked forward to sharing some images of the completed scheme soon!