It may be the city’s ugliest building but Sunderland Civic Centre must be spared the bulldozers

Sunderland Civic Centre.
Sunderland Civic Centre.
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If there was a competition to find Sunderland’s ugliest building, the civic centre would take some shifting from the top 10.

It may have been on trend when it first opened its doors in 1970, but then so were flares and tie dye shirts.

With its hexagonal pods interconnected by walkways it wouldn’t look out of place as a settlement on another planet. Think Moonbase Alpha in that other Seventies classic the TV show Space: 1999.

Sunderland Civic Centre is a familiar site and sight on the city centre skyline, but familiarity can breed contempt.

Certainly there has been a little devilment from the opposition councillors this week with their calls to consider the future of the building.

Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. One man’s Picasso is another man’s eyesore. The building was designed by acclaimed architect Sir Basil Spence, a noted exponent of the aptly named brutalist school of architecture.

Space: 1999

Space: 1999

His most famous work - and the one that got him knighted - is Coventry Cathedral. While the building won plaudits, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Which is why the calls to raze the civic centre to the ground are both understandable and quite unacceptable.

While it may be uneasy on the eye now, in years to come, it may well be considered an architectural gem. Battersea Power Station and, closer to home, Pasmore’s Apollo Pavilion are just two examples of former eyesores that with the passage of time has been revised as important, even beautiful.

Sunderland Civic Centre may well be in the top 10 of the city’s ugliest buildings, but it also vies for top spot as one of its most architecturally important!

Don’t you agree?

Sunderland Civic Centre

Sunderland Civic Centre