The Northern Architecture Centre is dead; long live the Northern Architecture Centre. Having failed to get lottery funding for an elegant building in Newcastle designed by Snell Associates, the architecture centre has won support from the Arts Council and Northern Arts and is going ahead - without a building. It has just appointed its first programme director, starting on 5 May, who is, appropriately, delighted not to have a permanent physical home. 'With a building there would be endless 'show business', it would be so time-consuming,' explains Mark Daniels. Instead he relishes the prospect of having a physical centre that 'will actually be virtual and on-line soon, an electronic Think-&-Do tank'.
Although only 28, Daniels has the kind of eclectic background a job like this demands. Born in Manchester, he did an architecture degree at Kingston University but 'started not to believe in the process of architectural education, and fell out with the external examiner'. He found the whole system too theoretical for him although he does not deny its value for others. His own heroes, John Pawson and Tadao Ando, have no formal architectural qualifications. In contrast, Daniels was much happier taking an ma in Art as Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University which was all about 'real projects for real clients'.
His own work has embraced sculpture, printed matter and multimedia, and he describes himself as 'a pathfinder and extreme lateral thinker'. He has been involved with Visionfest, the Merseyside art and design festival, annually since 1993 and has also worked with Manchester's new Centre for Understanding the Built Environment (cube).
Daniels foresees the Northern Architecture Centre as a giant outreach project, and hopes to build on some of the links forged during the year of the visual arts. His first season 'aims to reveal the unexpected underbelly of architecture through the eyes of photographers, artists and sound designers.'
Daniels does not see himself as somebody who has fallen out of love with architecture - he still feels very much a part of the architectural scene and is, despite his reservations about education, looking forward to working with Newcastle's schools of architecture. And although part of the attraction of his new job is that there is no physical centre, 'there is a niggling thing in the back of me that would like to be involved in a design team one day'.