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Flanagan Lawrence wins planning consent for £8.2 m cultural venue in Sunderland

Flanagan Lawrence wins planning consent for £8.2 m cultural venue in Sunderland
Flanagan Lawrence wins planning consent for £8.2 m cultural venue in Sunderland

UK – Flanagan Lawrence's design for a new auditorium for Sunderland Music, Arts And Culture Trust has been granted planning approval and funding this week.

On the same day as Sunderland Council granted planning permission for the new £8.2m venue, Arts Council England (ACE) has awarded a £6m grant through the National Lottery to the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust towards the cost of the building. Construction work will begin later this year with the multi-use auditorium opening in 2019.

The new venue will be located at the heart of the city’s Music Arts and Cultural Quarter in central Sunderland. The site, at Garden Place and Dun Cow Street, is adjacent to the Fire Station, currently being redeveloped as a £3.6m arts and culture centre, with financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Project director Jason Flanagan of Flanagan Lawrence, comments: "The new venue will have retractable seating for 450 and can also host 700 people standing. There will also be an outdoor stage and open area music and performance space to the rear of the redeveloped Fire Station. The hall is designed to accommodate both amplified music or a natural acoustic, as well as drama, dance, comedy and conference events.

John Mowbray, chair of the MAC Trust, said: “We are delighted that Arts Council has chosen to support Sunderland with the new auditorium and believe it will have a transformational effect on the city’s arts and culture sector. We’re extremely grateful to Arts Council for this very generous capital grant particularly considering the competition there is from other parts of the country for their limited budget. It shows they recognise the significant changes in arts and culture that are happening in the city and shares our ambition for Sunderland. We would also particularly like to thank Sunderland Council who have offered tremendous support during the development stage for this superb new cultural asset for the city.”

The Sunderland Music, Arts And Culture Trust is creating a Music, Arts and Cultural Quarter (MACQ) in the centre of Sunderland that will restore and re-establish the area's previous importance as the Edwardian heart and soul of the city.

The MACQ will encompass a series of fine buildings all built in Sunderland's heyday in the early 1900s and a new auditorium designed by Flanagan Lawrence. Within the quarter will be the already successful Empire, the Dun Cow and the Londonderry pubs.

The brief for the Music and Cultural Quarter is to develop a new cultural facility, built around the newly refurbished Dun Cow pub and the renovation of the adjacent Fire Station which are currently underway. Sunderland lacks any appropriate specialist venues for music, and there are no medium sized or specialist performance venues anywhere in the city. The key element in the brief is to provide a venue that can fill this gap.

The focus of the proposed accommodation is a new auditorium, designed to accommodate audiences of 450 people seated or 750 people standing. The hall will be designed to work equally well for amplified music or a natural acoustic, for the staging of drama, dance or comedy and conference events. Foyers and backstage accommodation will serve the hall. The venue will capitalise on the surrounding public open space and create a destination in the heart of Sunderland. It will form a natural partner to the restaurants, bars and drama and dance rehearsal spaces proposed in the Fire station.

The Auditorium and the Fire Station will form a continuous façade to the public square. Above the glazed foyer the new building will be clad in terracotta brise soleil to match the colour and tone of the red brickwork of the Fire Station. Views to the interior of the foyer reveal the form of the new auditorium within.

Jason Flanagan has extensive experience in the design of performance spaces. The Flanagan Lawrence scheme for Riverside Studios in Hammersmith will be on site soon. They have also recently won competitions for a new Music Centre for St Andrews University and the Summer Theatre – a new enclosure for the amphitheatre in Szczecin Poland.

As a designer at Flanagan Lawrence his portfolio includes the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, LiveWorks in Newcastle and the award winning Acoustic Shells at Littlehampton, as well as Soundforms, an acoustically revolutionary outdoor performance space that was showcased at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Project Team
Client Sunderland Music, Arts And Culture Trust
Location Sunderland
Status Planning Approval
Architect Flanagan Lawrence
Acoustic Consultant Arup
Venues Consulting Arup
Structural Consultant WSP Structure
Fire Consultant Design Fire Consultants
DDA Consultant Arup
Cost Consultant Identity Consult
CDM Consultant Faithful and Gould
Services Consultant WSP M&E
Project Management Buckley Burnett

22nd February 2017

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