Sunderland's Fire Station in the running to be named as North East's Best New Building
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Sunderland's Fire Station is in the running to be named as the North East's Best New Building.
The city centre venue is among four projects that have been shortlisted in the category for RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) North East Awards 2024.
The auditorium opened its doors in December 2021, bringing a varied programme of entertainment to the city.
Once the site of a little used car park, the £11million state-of-the-art auditorium was built onto the side of the existing Fire Station arts venue, with top grade acoustics to showcase local talent, as well as international artists.
A mid-size venue which bridges the gap in the city between larger venues such as the Stadium, the Empire and The Point and smaller venues such as Independent, it holds 800 people standing and 550 seated for a broad range of music, comedy, theatre, dance and more.
The building was designed by Flanagan Lawrence Architects, with design director Jason Flanagan also responsible for the iconic Sage Gateshead during his time at Foster and Partners. The design was brought to life by Sunderland construction firm Brims with Howarth Litchfield Architects acting as delivery architects during the build.
Inspired by its neighbours Sunderland Empire, the Dun Cow and, of course, The Fire Station, the terracotta colour scheme was chosen to complement the nearby red brick Edwardian architecture. The cornerstone development is operated by Sunderland Culture on behalf of Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust.
A decade ago, Paul Callaghan, chair of the MAC Trust, took on the 1907 Fire Station site, which had been forgotten for years, with the bold vision of improving life for the people of Sunderland through culture.
He gave new life to the original Fire Station building which houses the Engine Room bistro as well as creative space upstairs, with the new build auditorium sharing an entrance.
The other shortlisted projects are Auckland Castle, Tower and Faith Museum, County Durham; Percy Cottage, Northumberland and Raven Tower, Northumberland.
RIBA North East Jury Chair, Emily Posey, Associate of Eric Parry Architects, said: “This year’s shortlisted projects are playful in their creative use of design interventions.
"Covering a range of typologies, these buildings have all made a positive contribution to their North East locality: whether socially, environmentally or through clear concept and materiality combined.
"The challenges of the brief have been met with unique responses, while bringing joy to the architectural process and end user experience.”
All projects shortlisted for RIBA Regional Awards will be visited by a regional jury, and the winning projects will be announced later this spring.
The winners will then be considered for several RIBA Special Awards, including the RIBA Sustainability Award and RIBA Building of the Year, before being considered for a highly coveted RIBA National Award, which will be announced in summer.
The shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize – the UK’s best new building – will be drawn from the RIBA National Award-winning projects, and announced in September. The Stirling Prize winner will be announced in October.