Helix Innovation Quarter

Newcastle, UK

Helix Innovation Quarter

Newcastle University and the city wanted to create an innovative and highly sustainable district that would attract the leading scientists and academics to the North East. We have delivered a public realm around two academic buildings that encourages collaboration, healthy living, and provides a pioneering research tool for combating climate change.

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The Helix is a ground-breaking new innovation district that brings together industry-leading scientists, research and technology firms to transform the quality of life for families, communities and cities around the world. The Helix is a joint venture between Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University, and is the largest development of its kind in the UK, regenerating 24 acres of former industrial land into a new mixed-use community innovation hub, providing a variety of research and development, educational, business and residential uses in the heart of Newcastle.

Gillespies delivered the public realm around two of the main academic buildings- the Frederick Douglas Centre, a state of the art conferencing and teaching facility, and the Catalyst, home to the national innovation centre for ageing and national innovation centre for data.

The stunning landscape design encourages collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and ideas within the community. The design celebrates the substantial level changes whilst maintaining a fully accessible and inclusive environment for everyone, and creates a coherent and fully integrated piece of the wider public realm masterplan and design coding.

Sustainability was at the heart of the masterplanning and design process. Vast swathes of flowering perennials form part of the wider campus green infrastructure and a network of swales, raingardens and over land flood routes showcase a holistic water and flood management strategy. Gillespies also worked closely with the University research teams to develop the public realm as a live test bed, and ‘outdoor living lab’, for exploring the pioneering research on carbon capture within soil mediums, which will provide an ongoing evidence base and environmental research tool for reducing the carbon footprint of construction projects for the future and combating climate change.