The Spark, Newcastle Helix


Client: Legal & General

Location: Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Construction Value: £28m

The Helix is a new urban quarter in the centre of Newcastle which is an exemplar of sustainable urban development. At 24 acres it is the largest development of its kind in the UK and continues to attract leading scientific and technology-based organisations to this new community. Working with Ryder Architecture, OOBE has been the landscape architects on The Biosphere, The Lumen and The Spark. These projects have been an intensive design journey to marry up the ambitions of the client and stakeholders, including Newcastle City Council’s Planning Department.

The Spark is bound on two sides by quite steep slopes. Its topography has been used to make a design statement. Terraced steps form a feature on the northern flank. Central to the design is a sculptural green wall, which will see climbing plants twist and weave their way up wires to improve biodiversity even further on the Helix site. With the close proximity of The Lumen to The Spark, the landscape has been designed to seamlessly flow between both buildings.

Creating a restful retreat for people and wildlife in the heart of Newcastle

Office workers and visitors can enjoy the fresh air, flora and fauna on terrace seating and relax on bespoke benches in the public square nestled between The Lumen and The Spark. A feature of the square is a series of rain gardens with moisture-loving plants to support the overarching Helix SuDS. Low-maintenance planting areas across the site also helps in futureproofing for climate change and adds to biodiversity net gain.

The high-quality design aspirations of the client and stakeholders have been successfully met on this contemporary urban renewal scheme. Through strong placemaking principles, this former brownfield site has been transformed into a place where people, wildlife and plants can all thrive.

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