• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

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Innovation Centre at Newcastle Helix up for global award

The Catalyst, a ground-breaking, archtecturally striking facility in the city has been shortlisted in the 2021 Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) People’s Choice Award.

This competition showcases the best of civil engineering, recognising projects that have a positive impact on the local economy and communities whilst at the same time, highlighting the positive benefits civil engineering has on society as a whole.

The award also aims to highlight the positive benefits civil engineering has on people’s everyday lives.

The North East £30m project was completed in October 2019 by Bowmer and Kirkland, GSS Architecture, Design North, Gillespies LLP, Studio Horn, Desco, NG Bailey, JD Pierce, Charles Henshaw & Sons Ltd (inc. Levolux), Beal Architectural and Turner & Townsend on behalf of Newcastle University, UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing and National Innovation Centre for Data.

Built on an old brewery and bottling plant, the site of The Catalyst was historically a shaft-based mine, and more recently an open cast mine. The resulting foundation design had to accommodate natural geology, old mine workings and a significant volume of engineered backfill. The site was also split level, requiring further civil engineering solutions to subterranean works and cascading rain-gardens – designed for 1-in-100-year storm events, with 40% additional capacity for climate change, and taking symphonic drainage directly from the roof.

It is a great example of innovative design developed using BIM Level-2. The project, with an extensive set of client requirements, required a collaborative approach between the design and construction team as well as the clients’ stakeholders. More than just a construction project, The Catalyst was also a hub for sustainable development learning and community engagement with older members of the community involved at every stage of the design process to help ensure the building was innovative in how it worked and as inclusive as possible. The collaborative working approach and focus on sustainable development has resulted in achieving BREEAM Outstanding, exceeding client requirements.

Barry Hodgson (Strategy Director, National Innovation Centre for Data) said:

“The Catalyst is our new groundbreaking facility that is home to the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing and the National Innovation Centre for Data. As clients, working with the design team and contractors, we’re thrilled with the quality of space, designed to encourage collaboration and innovation, that is helping both National Centre’s to create a vibrant eco-system around ageing and data. Given the iconic nature of the building we will use it as a ‘beacon’ to attract all interested parties – a place where everyone, private and public sector organisations, C-suite executives, citizens, students and schoolchildren, can come to be inspired. Where people can work together to gain insight that will allow them to improve systems and create exciting new products and services. Ultimately, our work isn’t about technology, it’s about improving lives and the Catalyst is enabling all involved to do just that.”

This year, six projects have been shortlisted in the ICE People’s Choice Award which encourages the general public to vote online for their favourite.

The other shortlisted schemes are:

  • Boston Barrier Scheme (East Midlands)
  • Pooley Bridge Replacement (North West)
  • The NI Multimodal Transport Hub -North-West (Northern Ireland)
  • Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project (South East)
  • National Botanic Garden of Wales Regency Restoration Project (Wales Cymru)

Steena Nasapen-Watson, Director, ICE North East said:

“What a great achievement for all involved with this striking and innovative facility in Newcastle! The standard of this competition was very high and I am pleased that ICE North East is being represented by this fantastic scheme and the great project team behind it. Congratulations and good luck to all shortlisted projects.”

The public vote opened at 10:00 hours (UK time) on Tuesday, 7 September and closes at 17:00 hours on Tuesday, 19 October. The winner will be announced during the 157th ICE President’s Inauguration in November 2021.

The 2019 People’s Choice winner was Hong Kong section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) and last year’s People’s Choice Award was postponed due to pandemic.


Notes to Editors:

  1. Public voting is now open online: https://www.ice.org.uk/what-is-civil-engineering/peoples-choice-award and closes 19 October.
  2. Shortlisted project’s image.
    Caption: The Catalyst has been selected for the 2021 ICE People’s Choice Award
  3. About the Institution of Civil Engineers: Founded in 1818, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is a UK-based international organisation with more than 95,000 members, ranging from students to professionally qualified civil engineers. As an educational and qualifying body, with charitable status under UK law, we support our members throughout their careers, and help society to have trust and confidence in infrastructure professionals. Under our Royal Charter, ICE has become recognised worldwide for its excellence as a centre of learning, a public voice for the profession and a leading source of expertise in infrastructure and engineering policy.

For more information contact:

Joanne Stephenson
Marketing and Communications Executive North East

Institution of Civil Engineers
M: +44 (0) 7917551062
E: joanne.stephenson@ice.org.uk
W: ice.org.uk/northeast