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Northern Architecture Centrein Newcastle abandoned

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Plans for the uk's first purpose-built architecture centre in Newcastle upon Tyne have been abandoned following the withdrawal of an application for National Lottery funding. Directors of the Northern Architecture Centre had hoped to receive 75 per cent Arts Council lottery funding for the £3 million project, but withdrew after their applications were twice rejected and after revised business plans had failed to satisfy Northern Arts.

'The decision was also the result of the Arts Council Lottery Board changing course to look more at revenue funding than capital funding,' commented Nigel Jenkins, riba representative on the nac board.

Designed by Robin Snell, the centre would have comprised a three-storey steel-and-glass pavilion at a gateway site to Newcastle's city centre. The 2000m2 floorspace would have been occupied by exhibition and conference areas, work areas, a shop and cafe-bar. The Northern Architecture Centre - established in 1992 by the riba, Newcastle Architectural Workshop, Centre for the Built Environment and Northern Architectural Association - now plans to organise seminars, exhibitions, lectures and other events promoting architecture at different locations across the north and is in the process of recruiting a programme director to be funded by the Arts Council Lottery Board.

nac directors hope ultimately to relaunch plans for a permanent centre once the organisation is established in its new role. The site on Westgate Road, Newcastle, which is currently a car park, is unlikely to remain vacant for long. Local businessman Karl Watkin, who owns the Tyne Theatre just across the road from the site, hopes to develop it as a 'Covent Garden- style' arts village, including hotel, shops, bars and additional performance space for the theatre.

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