Xsite aid funding for Newcastle's AmberSide Collection

Designers at Xsite Architecture are driving forward plans to create The AmberSide Collection

A cutaway of the re-imagined Side Gallery spaces by xsite architecture
A cutaway of the re-imagined Side Gallery spaces by xsite architecture

A leading design team has played a pivotal role in helping to secure around £1.1m Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) to enable the development of The AmberSide Collection.

Newcastle-based Xsite Architecture have been involved in some of the region’s foremost cultural and regeneration schemes, including the current £1.3m redevelopment of the Tyneside Cinema.

Now the firm has aided The Amber Film & Photography Collective’s bid for funding, through the production of impressive architectural plans required to trigger successful applications.

The Amber Film & Photography Collective, based on Newcastle’s Quayside, was established in 1969 to collect documents of working class culture.

The collective’s Access & Engagement plan incorporates a three-year programme of work, which will span the capital redevelopment of the Side Gallery to create bigger and better exhibition spaces – as detailed in Xsite’s image – a study centre with digital access to the collection and a library, as well as a major exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery in June 2015 while Side Gallery is closed for redevelopment.

The collective’s initial application, submitted in March, was initially knocked back but has now received approval thanks to help from Xsite – although match funding of £400,000 is required.

Graeme Rigby, collective member, said: “Tim Bailey and xsite have been extremely helpful with the HLF application.

“With the project development funding that this gave us we were able to commission the architectural plans to the RIBA Stage D level that HLF requires.

“The work was put out to tender and there were a number of good ideas.

“Amber is a collective and has a very particular set of social and aesthetic concerns. The degree of insight xsite had into our vision for the development clearly helped, along with the knowledge that we could work with them creatively.

“This is a hugely important award for us. Amber has created a living archive over the past 45 years. This gives us the opportunity to work with the collection and let people know just how beautiful and extraordinary it is. And it sets us up for the next 45 years!”

Xsite partner Tim Bailey said he was delighted to be involved in what he regards as one of the city’s real cultural gems

He said: “Xsite is passionate about preserving the region’s architectural and cultural heritage and I have always been impressed by the important architecture related work Amber has carried out in the past which chronicled the early conservation activism and highly valuable visual recording of building types and streetscapes in the city and wider region.

“The construction aspects of the grant funding represent around half of the project costs and it is hoped that once a project manager is appointed, work will get underway this autumn.

“However, it is important that the match funding is secured first before we can get construction underway. For this reason, it is proposed that at the present time, the gallery will probably close in early 2015 and the building work will commence in April next year with a view to its completion in readiness for reopening in early 2016.”

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