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[Sub]liminal Space and the Modern City: Transforming Contingent Space for Contingent People

Part 2 Project 2011
Holly Galbraith
Northumbria University Newcastle | UK
The Corner Tower, the lonely fragment of Newcastle’s city wall, currently co-exists in an urban contingent landscape between 19th Century infrastructure and 21st Century commercial development. Sheltering Newcastle’s forgotten citizens- the homeless- who discreetly seek solitude beyond the gaze of the passing public, the wall today merely functions as a liminal passage alluding to the space between the modern city and its historic remains.

Considering the physical state of the wall as a metaphor of the homeless man- forgotten and overlooked by the wider society the project threads together the forgotten spaces adjacent to the tower by publicly re-establishing this protective relationship, highlighting the plight of both the wall and the homeless in gaining society’s acceptance once more. Utilising the ambiguous nature of liminal space as an area to practice tested theories in the creative and performing arts scene the transformative potential of this ‘in-between’ state could be realised.

The project develops a series of spaces re-stitching a disparate landscape that are concerned with the communication, self expression and either the subconscious or physical interaction of the homeless and the public acknowledging the creative arts as a suitable programme for this. Over time the transient nature of these spaces will begin to blur social boundaries, mitigate the implications of homelessness and reduce the exclusion of both the wall and the homeless. This final stage is celebrated by the notional transition of escaping the liminal phase and ‘re-entering’ modern day society through the crossing of the city wall symbolising the homeless man’s re-entry into society.

During the Medieval Period, the Corner Tower created a sense of inclusion, protection and ownership within its walls. Connectivity between the tower and the Quayside to the South was strong utilising the medieval chares that ran perpendicular to the River Tyne to navigate the shift in topography northwards beyond the extent of the city wall. Following the pressure of industrial developments and the growth of an ever sprawling modern city, the piecemeal removal of the wall in the 18th Century weakened the tower’s importance reducing it to a feint memory of its role as a guardian.

Holly Galbraith


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