TESCO is on track to open its Sunderland superstore – and it’s giving city schoolchildren the chance to shape its design.
A whole corner section of the building in Roker Retail Park will feature art designs made by youngsters.
Pupils from Southwick Community School, Redby Primary School, St Benet’s Primary School and Dame Dorothy Primary School have been working hard to create images which will suit the space which will be lit up at night – as a gateway into the city from Newcastle Road.
It is thought to be the first time the supermarket giant has incorporated public art work into one of its stores on such a large scale.
Ruairi Magee, project manager with builder Barr Construction, said: “Tesco always has a public art allocation and we came up with the idea of undertaking a public art project on one corner of the store.
“Because of the site’s proximity to the football club we held various meetings with the club and decided to involve its charity, the Foundation of Light.”
The competition to design the glazed wall is in the midst of being judged ahead of its instalment in December.
Three winning designs will be chosen and merged into one, before going to the council’s planning authority for approval.
As well as utilising the foundation’s community ethos, children have been asked to incorporate what their hometown means to them while reflecting Sunderland’s history.
Mr Magee added: “The idea of incorporating public art into the design of the building is very new, but it’s a great way of linking the store with the city and the foundation charity.” Work began on the £22million Tesco Extra development, which will include another five smaller retail units, almost a decade after the retail giant first submitted plans in the city.
Tesco had originally planned to build a mammoth store on the Vaux site, but was blocked from doing so.
After years of wrangling, the firm agreed to sell the site to Sunderland Council after city leaders suggested the alternative location in Roker.
Mr Magee said he has never worked on a building project which has accrued so much public interest, with Wearsiders often turning up at site gates to see how the development is coming along.
“There has been an absolutely huge amount of interest in the construction work,” he added.
“We undertake a series of letter drops to keep residents aware of what’s going on and anything that will affect the local community.
“Some of the answers have been quite comical and we’ve had some great feedback which helps to boost morale on site.”
About 150 construction workers are on site and on schedule to complete the store in time for its opening in spring next year.