Inquiries are to be carried out after 16 wheelie bins and two commercial bins were destroyed in a fire.
Crews of firefighters from Rainton Bridge and Farringdon were called to the Old Rectory, off the Broadway in Houghton, at 4.23am today.
They ensured the blaze was out and no further risk of damage could be caused to the building, which is used as a space for community groups and social entrepreneurs as a co-working space.
The fire also caused damage to part of a wall and a window.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, which was on the scene for around 10 minutes, has confirmed the fire is believed to have been started maliciously.
It has issued a reminder to people to ensure their bins are kept secure and locked if possible to reduce the risk of arson attacks and that waste and materials including wood is cleared away.
Anyone with information about the fires is asked to contact Northumbria Police via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.