PROTOHOME is led by Crisis, the national charity for single homelessness, xsite architecture and TILT Artistic Services. It is in affiliation with Newcastle City Council and forms part of a research project at Durham University by artist Julia Heslop.


PROTOHOME is a self-build housing project which was temporarily sited and open to the public at Upper Steenbergs in the Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne, from May-August 2016. Working alongside an architect and a joiner, a group of individuals who have experienced homelessness developed a timber-frame model of self-build housing which is specifically designed for untrained self-builders. The aim was not to create a full housing model with services, but a ‘shell’ structure that offers a vision of how this model could be developed into working housing in the future. The ‘house’ hosted a programme of events and exhibitions examining the collaborative design/build process and wider issues to do with housing and homelessness in an austerity context and participatory alternatives (see the programme below).


The project is grounded in the current social housing crisis, and the effect that austerity measures are having upon already precarious lives. Homelessness is growing and housing for low income groups is becoming more perilous and temporary in nature with increasing over-crowding, people living ‘on the move’, sofa-surfing or being forced to migrate out of the inner city, so people are seeking self-help solutions and more ‘marginal’ ways of living and ‘home-making’. It is vital that we seek out alternatives to the continued and accelerating retrenchment of state provided housing and rising homelessness.


The design and build process emphasised learning – long term personal development and employment opportunities for participants. The building was developed through hands on workshops with TILT Artistic Services at Crisis Skylight Centre, Newcastle. Participants were given training in design and joinery and also documented the process through film and photography. Training and skilling up were at the heart of this project – the learning process being just as important as the product and the process was designed to act as a stepping stone to other more formal education or employment opportunities.


To find out more contact: info@protohome.co.uk



PROTOHOME opening at The Late Shows – Friday 13th and Saturday 14th May, 7pm – 11pm

Film Screening: Once Upon A Time There Was Savorengo Ker, The Home of Everyone (Dir. Fabrizio Boni and Girogio de Finis) – Thursday 19th May, 7pm

Film Screening: Dreaming of a Treehouse (Dir. Beate Lendt) – Thursday 26th May, 7:30pm

Public Forum: Housing and Participation – Friday 27th May, 10am – 3:30pm with speakers: Prue Chiles (School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University), Claude Hendrickson (Community Self-Build Agency), Helen Jarvis (Department of Geography, Newcastle University), Peter Kellett (Global Urban Research Unit, Newcastle University), Caroline Gore Booth (Giroscope), Duncan Roberts, Cath Scaife (Newcastle City Council) and the Crisis self-build group.

Lloyd-Wilson Artist Residency – Monday 6th-Saturday 11th June

Public Forum: Homelessness and Austerity – Friday 17th June, 2-4:30pm with speakers: Adele Irving (Department of Social Sciences, Northumbria University), Sarah Johnsen (School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University), Neil Munslow (Newcastle City Council), Andrew Burnip (Crisis) and Becky Elton (Changing Lives).

The Town Meeting, Cap-a-Pie Theatre Company – Saturday 18th June, 7pm

Workshop: Housing in the Ouseburn: Past, Present and Future – Wednesday 22nd June, 6-8pm. With speakers: Mike Greatbatch, Ouseburn Heritage expert, Dale Bolland, Ouseburn Futures Planning & Development Group, Claire Harper and James Perry

The North East Amateur Model Building Enthusiasts Social Club (N.E.A.M.B.E.S.C.) – An artist residency by Dean Crawford and Joe Shaw – Monday 27th June – Friday 1st July

Drop-in Event – Archive For Change and Dingy Butterflies CIC – Sunday 3rd July, 1-4pm

Film Screening – Estate, A Reverie (Dir. Andrea Luka Zimmerman) – Thursday 7th July, 7pm

Artist Classes hosted by Wunderbar – Tuesday 12th, Wednesday 13th July and Thursday 14th July with Mat Fleming, Ilana Mitchell and Peter Merrington and Harriet Plewis

Unconference: Dwelling and Its Discontents: Art, Home and Economy with speakers Gary Anderson (The Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home), Michael Simon (Granby 4 Streets), Tatjana Schneider (School of Architecture, Sheffield University), Martin Zebraki (School of Geography, University of Leeds), Alan Dunn and Jeff Young.

Performance from Martin Heslop, Jeff Young and Ribbon Road – Friday 15th July, 6:30-8pm

Sustainable Cities discussion with Alice Martin from the New Economics Foundation – Thursday 21st July, 7-9pm

Public Forum: The Politics of Land and Development and Devolution with speakers: Anna Minton (academic and Guardian journalist), MP Chi Onwurah (Newcastle Central), Peter Hetherington (writer and Guardian journalist), Alice Martin (New Economics Foundation), John Tomaney (Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at UCL), Anna Round (IPPR North), Clymene Christoforou (ISIS Arts), Ian Wylie (Editor, The Northern Correspondent) and Anja McCarthy (CURDS, Newcastle University).

Film Screening: The UK Gold (Dir. Mark Donne) – Thursday 28th July, 7pm

Closing barbeque with Culture Kitchen – Sunday 31st July, 2-6pm


This project is kindly supported by Newcastle City Council, the Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Account and The Centre for Social Justice and Community Action at Durham University.


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