My North East: Rob Charlton

November 1, 2018

Rob Charlton is chief executive of Space Group, which includes Space Architects, BIM.Technologies and bimstore. The architect – with more than 20 years’ experience – is also the co-founder of BIM Show Live, an international conference hosted in the North East to showcase new technologies in the construction industry

I’m born and bred in the North East. I did study in Leeds and lived there for seven years but, as with most Geordies, there was a strong draw back home after university.

We’re spoilt by the beauty of our region – being next to the coast and on the edge of the countryside. Plus, we are only a couple of hours from the Lake District, and London and Edinburgh are not far by train. We have an excellent airport, which is only 20 minutes from home, too. Why would I want to live anywhere else when everything we need is within striking distance?

For me, a great day in Newcastle is a little shopping, a few cocktails and something to eat with friends. I’ve come a long way from a Friday night in Balmbras.

I love Italy and the nearest I can get to being there is at Adriano’s Deli on Gosforth High Street. I go there every Saturday and Sunday morning (and sometimes a few days through the week, too) for a coffee and a croissant and to read the paper. The atmosphere is authentically Italian and very enticing.

I also regularly go to Mario’s restaurant on Pudding Chare. It is owned by a family friend, so we always get a warm welcome and are very well looked after. Family time is important to me and eating out allows us all to get together.

Cragside Estate in Northumberland is a special place for me – not only is the house and garden fantastic, but it is steeped in industrial history, which is one of my real interests. Lord Armstrong was a true innovator and philanthropist and he left a huge legacy on the region. As well as Cragside, he restored Bamburgh Castle, founded the University of Newcastle and developed Jesmond Dene – he is our very own Steve Jobs.

Close House Golf Club is another favourite haunt of mine, particularly sitting on the terrace overlooking the pond on a nice day. Our team at Space Architects designed the building and we are very proud of the profile the club has built over recent years. Graham Wylie set out a very ambitious vision in the early days and it is fantastic to see he has achieved it.

We hold a digital construction conference every year, called BIM Show Live. When we started eight years ago, we held the show in London and then moved to Manchester. However, two years ago, we decided to bring the show home to Newcastle. The show has since taken place at the Boiler Shop in Stephenson Quarter, in Newcastle city centre. I’m always thrilled to see how our visitors from across Europe and throughout the UK are always blown away by this outstanding venue. The history of the building and its links to Stephenson’s Rocket make it perfect for an innovative event such as BIM Show Live. It’s quirky and far from conventional, which is what I like about it.

What makes the North East for me is how we are received whenever we’re outside the region. I’m proud of where I’m from and it is a big part of my identity. I come across Geordies all over the world and we have a true camaraderie.

Space Group