Architecture students scoop awards for Sill-inspired designs

Talented Northumbria University students have won prestigious awards for their innovative designs based around an adapted brief for The Sill – the North East’s proposed £11.7m National Landscape Discovery Centre.

As part of their third year project work, architecture students were tasked with creating designs based on a brief set by Northumberland National Park (NNPA) and award-winning architects Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall (JDDK) which focused on The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre and another key National Park location.

Matthew Glover and Megan Carmichael were named as winners in the two categories at a ceremony at Northumbria University’s Nixon Hall where they were awarded prizes by Stuart Evans, The Sill’s Project Director. The ceremony marked the third year of this association and The Sill’s ongoing support of young people.

Matthew won the NNPA Sill Prize – and an iPad donated by NNPA – for his work which was inspired by the proposed plans for the National Landscape Discovery Centre at Once Brewed, whilst the Alternative Site Prize went to Megan Carmichael, whose prize was a placement at JDDK.

Prize-winner Matthew said:

“It was great to work on a live project in such a beautiful and historical location along Hadrian’s Wall. The brief gave us limitless opportunities which is shown in the large variety of designs exhibited at the end of year show.

“JDDK giving an insight to the approach they had taken for The Sill Project gave me the confidence to move forward with my own design with its important relation to the context. It was a pleasure to be awarded the NNPA Sill Prize and it has given me confidence to take the next step in my career.”

Working alongside Northumbria University teaching staff, Alison Thornton-Sykes, Principal Architect at JDDK, helped judge the student’s designs for the awards before the two overall winners were selected from what was described by judges as an incredibly high standard of work from all involved.

Alison said:

“I was impressed with the students’ understanding of the client’s aspiration to engage people with the landscape and how they developed that understanding into their design concepts and rigorously through to their final designs.

“It was clear from the standard of work submitted that the students fully embraced the briefs and they showed immense creativity in their designs. I’m confident that they will have successful careers ahead of them.”

Since 2011, third year Architecture students at Northumbria University have been tasked with designing a visitor discovery centre based on an adapted version of the original design brief provided by Northumberland National Park for the £11.7m Sill project. The students are asked to expand on the NNPA brief to include the exhibition on a theme significant to the history of the area.

An alternative brief asked them to look at designs for a building at Walltown, which is also within the National Park.

The project, which is run in conjunction with NNPA, YHA and award-winning Newcastle based architects Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall (JDDK), saw the students visit the Once Brewed site and a variety of other locations around Northumberland National Park in order to understand the landscape context and research varying historical, cultural or geological aspects of the park.

The work forms part of the course’s major studio project and enables the students to gain invaluable hands on experience.

Sill Project Director Stuart Evans, who awarded Matthew and Megan with their prizes at the ceremony, said:

“We are very pleased to be able to work with Northumbria University again to provide the students with the chance to connect with a business and work on a real life project. It has been wonderful to see the students immerse themselves in the rich cultural and historical landscapes at The Sill site and further afield in Northumberland National Park as part of the project. Their enthusiasm and talent has really shone through in the final concepts and designs. I’m honoured to have been able to present the deserving winners with their prizes and I have no doubt that they have bright futures ahead of them.

“The Sill is committed to offering unique learning experiences which assist young people in developing practical skills that will aid them not only in their studies, but in their future careers. This partnership with Northumbria University aligns perfectly with The Sill’s aims and we plan for this relationship to continue into the future.”

Ben Elliott, Architecture Part 1 Programme Leader at Northumbria University, added:

“We have been working with the NNPA for three years now and it is really exciting to see The Sill project move closer to being realised. The architecture programme’s live project briefs are a really important part of the students’ learning because we can use these relationships as an authentic preparation for professional practice.

“The NNPA have acted as the client body and the project architects JDDK have been in to review the work which has been inspirational for the students. The body of work from the architecture undergraduate cohort evidences a highly successful and creative approach to a live project, and is credit to the commitment and ability of all the students and staff involved. It is great that the achievements of our prize winners, Megan and Matthew, have been recognised and we are very proud of the quality and originality of their work.”

The development phase of The Sill project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA are seeking to secure an additional £3.5million in funding for the full project costs and to make their vision for The Sill a reality, the project needs your support. You can support The Sill by volunteering, attending one of the project’s consultation events or making a donation towards the £3.5million target. If you are interested in getting involved, contact The Sill team on thesill(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)

For more information about The Sill project, visit , find The Sill on Facebook or follow The Sill on Twitter @thesillproject