London-based architectural practice Flanagan Lawrence has been commissioned to design a new cultural auditorium in Sunderland.
The Music, Arts and Cultural Quarter (MACQ) is a project from The Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust, which hopes to culturally enrich the area. It will be based in central Sunderland at Garden Place and Dun Cow Street.
The new £8.2 million venue is being funded by a £6 million Arts Council England grant, which will go towards the cost of the building.
It will sit next to Sunderland’s Fire Station, which is being redeveloped as a £3.6 million arts and culture centre with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Flanagan Lawrence says: “Sunderland lacks any appropriate specialist venues for music, and there are no medium-sized or specialist performance venues anywhere in the city. The key element in the brief is to provide a venue that can fill this gap.”
The new music venue will have an indoor hall with retractable seating for 450 people, and will be able to host 700 people standing, and will be suitable for both amplified music and natural acoustics, according to architect Jason Flanagan. There will also be an outdoor stage and an open area music and performance space. It will host a programme of music, dance, drama and spoken word acts.
The venue will share a box officer, foyer, daytime café and a rehearsal space with the new arts and culture venue next door.
Future developments for the site could include rehearsal and recording spaces and offices for start-up digital businesses, whereas surrounding areas could host a specialist Museum for Sunderland and a regional art gallery, according to Flanagan Lawrence.
Construction will begin later this year, with the auditorium expected to open in 2019.
All photos courtesy of Flanagan Lawrence.