New Architect in the Ranks

No this isn’t a blank piece of headed paper but the fruits of Mark’s hard work as we are delighted to announce he passed the final hurdle in becoming an architect.

Our first newly qualified Architect at MawsonKerr, although hopefully not the last (no pressure Daniel…)

By Royal Appointment

6th November saw a new landmark for MawsonKerr with the completion of artwork to commemorate the opening of the new headquarters for Durham & Darlington Fire Brigade.

The Artwork commissioned by the fire brigade was handed over to the Countess of Wessex during the opening ceremony. We even got a handshake and some kind words as Princess Sophie left the building.

All Royal artwork commissions welcomed…


Sunbeams Music Centre

Sunbeams Music Centre
Location : Penrith, Cumbria
Sectors: Healthcare, Education, Sustainability

We have been working with the charity Sunbeams from the embryonic stage on their £2 million music therapy centre located on a sensitive site overlooking Ullswater.

The building is designed as a home and advert for the amazing work Sunbeams do working with disadvantaged members of society. Bringing music into the building was on of the key drivers alongside harmonising the building with the natural surroundings and wider environment.

The building exemplifies what we believe good design to embody; passive environmental principles, contextual connection through materials and techniques and innovation in form and layout. The design incorporates ground source heat pumps, photovoltaics and locally sourced materials such as sheep’s wool insulation.

Theatre Royal Back of House Refurbishment

Theatre Royal Back of House Refurbishment
Location: Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Sectors: Civic, Heritage, Leisure

This latest project completed by MawsonKerr at the Theatre Royal comprises half million pound refurbishment project over six floors of dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces, band rooms, staff facilities and an enlarged green room area. Construction work within the Grade I listed building was phased floor by floor basis over 14 months while the building was live with actors and staff for the majority of the works.

The Iconic building has an amazing history and we were delighted to be involved in redesigning the back of house area to a brief of providing ‘the best dressing room facilities in the country’. In opening up the existing cellular space on the ground floor the back of house has a new heart working with artists and photographers bringing the spaces to life.

Norbord OSB Housing

OSB Low Rise High Density
Location : Byker, Newcastle
Sectors: Residential, Affordable, Competition, Sketchbook

This housing prototype was developed for a RIBA Journal competition looking into the potential for Norbord OSB as a product for creating affordable housing.

Working with the material our proposal pushed the material in terms of providing shelter, structure and form within a 4.8×4.8m module that allowed for interlocking units. The way the units tessellate presents a private space available to each unit proving a density of 115 units per hectare. CNC techniques are utilised to give minimal waste and allow construction on site by relatively unskilled labour. We chose a brown field site in Byker to show how the units could be planned forming a new community complex on unused plots of land.

Our design went on to win the competition with discussions ongoing to develop the prototype for affordable housing.

Work Starts Backstage at the Theatre Royal

The back of house refurbishment works started at the Theatre Royal this month. The 6 floors of dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces, band rooms, staff facilities and green room are to have a phased overhaul over the next 14 months.

The Grade I listed building which is alive with actors and staff apart from the two dark periods this year and next and now has a new builder community to rub shoulders with as well as the friendly face of the architect…

Levens Hall Restaurant

Levens Hall Restaurant
Location : Levens Hall, Cumbria
Sectors: Restaurant, Leisure, Historical

Levens Hall and Gardens is a grade I listed hall and gardens and is recognised as the oldest original garden in England featuring the oldest Haha. Famous for the topiary hedges of amazing scale and variety it is regularly used for film sets and garden programmes. The house has been in the Bagot Family for centuries who are looking to give a more contemporary offering to complement the amazing historical fair that has been a tourist destination for decades.

We worked with them looking at a number of different sites within the grounds and design options before homing in on a proposal that was simple in plan but had a dynamic roof form pointing to the future. The building sits on a plinth above the flood zone and provides a new destination alongside the gardens and hall that can operate all year round. The material palette and detail have been carefully developed to make strong connection to the neighbouring structures with a finely manicured hedge running through the building and out towards the river Kent referencing the gardens. The project is to develop the Bagot Family’s keen interest in ‘field to fork’ eating using products all grown within close proximity for sustainable dining.


Star & Shadow Cinema

Star & Shadow Cinema
Location : Warwick Street, Ouseburn, Newcastle
Sectors: Community, Leisure, Workspace

Star and Shadow Cinema is a co-operative and registered Community Benefit Society which runs an independent theatre whilst providing a venue for artists and musicians. The organisation is run entirely by volunteers with decisions made democratically.  Previously located on Stepney Bank Ouseburn they have grown out of their currently venue and managed to secure a dilapidated building on Warwick Street to transform into their new venue.  This exciting community led scheme includes a Cinema, Venue Space, Café, Community Spaces, Artist Studios and Workshops which are all to be built by the volunteers who have many different skills and expertise– a truly immense DIY project .

Design development has been an holistic and bespoke process incorporating ‘found’ items, recycling materials from their current venue and allowing an evolving scheme to incorporate other items founded during construction.  The design ethos is ‘buildings within building’ to make maximum use of the volume of the industrial shell whilst also creating the high acoustic performance needed within the cinema and venue space.  The layout and design has been created to have a vibrant heart to the building, a welcoming face to the street frontage and to enable volunteers to have a sociable time in the building whatever they have been allocated to do.  Construction work starts in summer 2016 and is due for completion early 2017.

Winners at the Regional RIBA Awards

We were rendered temporarily speechless after picking up three regional RIBA Awards at the recent North East RIBA Awards alongside some of the biggest names in architecture. Friar House picked up the award for the best conservation project as well as a regional award and we were delighted to be the winners of the Emerging Practice of the Year.

There were celebrations into the night and now the hard work continues to maintain the momentum!