Gaia in Europe Pt 1: Newcastle and Amsterdam

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Title: “Byker Wall” by Gaia : Edition: 33 , 2aps – 760mm x 540mm
Medium: Screen printed with 2 colours and hand painted on 300gsm somerset velvet
Paper: Somerset White Velvet 300gsm. Signed, Dated & Numbered by the Artist. £275.00 inc vat to purchase please visit OneThirty3’s online shop

Thomas Daniel Smith (11 May 1915 – 27 July 1993) was a British politician who was Leader of Newcastle upon Tyne City Council from 1960 to 1965. A visionary of his time, Smith wanted Newcastle to become “the Brasilia of theNorth” through the implementation of massive redevelopment projects and slum clearence programs. His legacy included the Swan House in the center of the city which replaced the original Medieval streets with a large motorway and roundabout. Smith`s political career would eventually be destroyed by offering lucrative building contracts to local architects, the result of which were housing estates such as the infamous Cruddas Park project. Props to GMC crew for the wall and all of the help! Of course a big shout to Onethirty3 for flying me out and organizing the installation.

Portrait of Mayor Gijs van Hall and Corbusier interpolated by the phrase "What is the scale of a Human?" in dutch on an abandoned slab housing project in Bijlmermeer.

Bijlmer was designed by the department of City Development according to the strict tenets of CIAM. Constructed throughout the 60’s in striking resemblance to Le Corbusier’s Radiant City plan, by the time the massive towers were constructed, high modernism was already under vitriolic scrutiny by the architectural community. Intended to alleviate Amsterdam’s housing shortage, middle class never moved to the housing project in the wake of burgeoning suburbanization and a plummeting population in the center city.

Bijlmer became the dumping ground for unwanted immigrant communities and the city’s excessive drug problems. Only until recently, has the massive housing project been redeveloped into more mixed income housing with a diversity of uses and styles. Many of the block slabs have been leveled due to poor construction and maintenance but the remaining towers have been renovated into exceptional apartments. This piece was created on one of the last remaining vacant houses.

Photos by Gaia