Tynemouth Station has seen a real resurgence in popularity in the past few years. What is the work that Hub has been commissioned to do?
We have been commissioned to regenerate the existing listed west platform and buildings into a retail outlet space. The existing buildings were used by Tynemouth Council as a Fostering Office.
What exactly does a 'change of use' and 'listed application' mean? What challenges do you expect you will need to overcome?
These terms apply when you are intending to change the use of a building from one use to another, from business to residential use for example, as well as when you want to do any work to a building with listed status. They are there to protect the heritage and fabric of the building and are enforced by the planning authorities.
At times the regulations that govern this work can be quite stringent, however it's not at all impossible to work with the authorities as long as you understand what they are trying to protect, and that they are happy with the vision for the project.
The station is a very public place that comes with a wealth of history. Do you ever feel that the work you do is in some way re-writing that history for future generations?
Yes and I believe that it is critical to always think that way. We are guardians of these structures (not everything listed is a building) and we have a duty to look after them, encourage the general public to appreciate their value and to respect what we have, right now. We will be judged by future generations and I would hate to see elements of the victorian era (for example) repeated, when an enormous amount of damage was carried out to some incredible buildings.
This project seems very different to say the development of a residential home. Are there elements that tie these two kinds of projects together?
As far as the end user goes, yes I believe there is a big difference. Public spaces should be designed to withstand a level of robustness, and in this project, consider the sensitivities that surround listed buildings. In a utopian world you may be able to implement very fine architectural design, however in reality public spaces are designed to be used and with that comes wear, tear and in some circumstances a little anti social behaviour. The more we can encourage public ownership of a space the more it will be respected and looked after.
Our approach here has been to make the public experience as personal as possible without losing the feel of the station. Re-purposing key items such as sleepers, signage and gates has been a key part of this and has been encouraged by the conservation and historic building officers.
In contrast, residential projects due to the nature of private ownership do not have to work so hard to encourage an element of respect and care. This allows a lighter architectural touch.
In 10 years time when this development is firmly in place and being used on a daily basis, what would you hope that the public's experience will be?
I would hope that they remember it with enough fondness to want to come back. That will make its future so much brighter and more likely that the project will succeed commercially.