Pictures offer first glimpse inside Sunderland's new 'Culture House' as consultation continues on plans

These images give a glimpse ‘inside’ the new landmark library and community hub in Sunderland city centre – with time running out for you to have your say on the plans.

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 4:28 pm

Standing four storeys high, the modern hub is planned for the site of the former Corner Flag at Keel Square and would house a range of facilities for adults, children and young people, as well as spaces for creativity and innovation.

Traditional and digital resources would be made available, alongside flexible community and meeting spaces, a 60-cover café and roof terraces.

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Culture House © Faulknerbrowns

Subject to approval, the building is estimated to boost city spending and attract more than half a million visitors a year from across the city and beyond.

Designs for the building have been developed by FaulknerBrowns Architects, the firm which designed the nearby City Hall which is now the new base of Sunderland City Council.

A planning application for the Culture House, submitted in December 2021, set out detailed designs for each floor as well as the wider vision of making the site a national destination.

The main space in the building ‘The Forum’ would be a hive of activity where families would learn and play together, while also promoting the range of activities delivered across the huge site.

A previously released imaged. Culture House © Faulknerbrowns

This includes the use of audio and visual media on upper-storey walls in a central atrium area, with media programmed to change to reflect exhibitions, public events and annual festivals.

Spaces for business entrepreneurs, digital media, exhibitions and local groups would also be provided, alongside a roof garden with a mixture of shrubs and flowering plants.

The first floor would focus on children and young people, with areas for different age groups, library collections, an immersive storytelling area and a ‘play garden / tree house.’

An adult library located on the second floor would provide traditional non-fiction and fiction collections while mixing open plan landscapes with “individual concentrated study spaces and lounge environments.”

Culture House © Faulknerbrowns

According to planning documents, the Culture House would also boast an events hall which could be used for public speaking events, book launches, business functions and weddings.

Meanwhile, visitors looking to delve into the history of Sunderland would be able to access a local studies and archive centre based at the site.

A planning and heritage statement submitted with the Culture House application, states the plans would provide high-quality facilities for Sunderland following cuts to library services in recent years.

“Cuts to library services in recent years is acknowledged to still be raw to many people,” the statement reads.

Culture House © Faulknerbrowns Pillar Visuals

“Investment back into high-quality city centre facilities, including library services is to be very much welcomed by the city and community.

“The city’s former library in Fawcett Street was a positive and well used community asset until its closure and was clearly a focal point of regular activity for many residents.

“Its replacement in the Museum and Winter Garden was only ever intended to be a temporary solution and is acknowledged to be inadequate for the city.”

A decision on the Culture House application is expected to be made following a period of council consultation.

Comments on the plans can be submitted up to the end of Monday, January 10, 2022 via Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal.

For more information on the application or to track its progress, visit https://online-applications.sunderland.gov.uk and search planning reference: 21/02835/LP3

Culture House © Faulknerbrowns Fillippo.

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