Urban Design and International Planning Field Trip
Written by Rebekah Ellis
“I am studying MSc in Urban Design and International Planning after completing my undergraduate in Planning and Real Estate, also at The University of Manchester. I am interested in the impact of the built environment on human behaviour, how to create healthy and liveable cities for people, as well as enhancing the natural environment.
Our year group were unfortunately not able to take an overseas field visit because of COVID guidance but luckily, we were still allowed to take a field trip in the UK to Newcastle and Durham! We explored urban policies, urban design issues and responses in a different UK-based context to what we have seen and studied previously. Newcastle has historical parts with heritage conservation projects as well as modern architecture and new developments integrated together in the city. Durham also has a strong emphasis on heritage conservation with its own unique challenges, opportunities, and barriers for future developments.
This trip met the aims, objectives and outcomes of the urban design and international planning study tour module as well as giving insight to analysis for our assignment 2. Earlier in the semester we studied Vienna via a virtual study tour, so assignment 2 looks to make an urban design comparison between the challenges and responses of Vienna and Newcastle/Durham.
We departed from Manchester on Sunday (27 March) and returned on Friday (1 April) so had a good amount of time to explore Newcastle and Durham with lecturers/guides providing information throughout our visit.
The tour was split into 2 groups: my group stayed at the Quayside Travelodge, so upon arrival on our first night we drank and ate at Wetherspoons on the Quayside next to the hotel! The following day we were given a welcome and introduction to Newcastle by lecturers at Newcastle University. This gave us some valuable insight of not only our trip, but I also found the talks gave me some inspiration of urban design dissertation ideas – including gender-inclusive design and safety in public spaces.
We were given an itinerary of the trip which explained what we were doing each day and where we had to meet. But there was also plenty of free time to explore the city, to visit cafes, bars, and restaurants! I really recommend Boquerones Tapas, a cute and cosy Spanish tapas bar in Heaton, which is in the suburbs of Newcastle.
A tour that particularly stood out to me was Byker Wall Housing project in Newcastle, a social housing project built between 1969 and 1982, using different materials and colours in the design which has been placed on UNESCO’s list of outstanding 20th century buildings.
Overall, I really enjoyed the study tour to Newcastle and Durham, I learnt more about urban design in a different context, and it was a great way to start the Easter holidays!”