Sunbeams Music Centre

‘To provide a sustainable legacy for people with disabilities…’ the client’s mantra driving the Sunbeams Music Centre - a bespoke music therapy facility designed on a site overlooking the Lake District in Cumbria. Established in 1992, Sunbeams Music Trust deliver their 'Music For Life' programme to tens of thousands of needing members of society each year and were eager for a home.

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 centre was a key driver also harmonising the building with the natural surroundings and wider environment.

Sunbeams Music Centre exemplifies what we believe good design to embody; passive environmental principles, contextual connection utilising Cumbrian materials and techniques with innovation in form and layout. The centre is predominantly naturally ventilated, naturally lit and the heating provided by ground source heat pump. U-values are to passivhaus standards with a large amount of locally sourced sheep wool and carefully designed south facing elevation to limit overheating. All materials are sustainably sourced and from as local a source as possible. Reducing carbon was a key part of the design development through to the final built centre.


Architects Journal Awards - Healthcare and Wellbeing Project of the Year
Structural Timber Awards - Architect of the Year
RIBA MacEwen Award –Shortlisted
Civic Trust - Selwyn Goldsmith for Accessibility Shortlisted
Civic Trust - Civic Trust Commendation
Buildings Awards - Small Project of the Year finalist
LABC Northern - Small Commercial project of the year
LABC National - Small Commercial project of the year Finalist
Northern Architectural Association - Community Project of the Year
Offsite Awards - Healthcare Project of the Year Shortlisted
Offsite Awards - Best Use of Timber Technology Shortlisted
RICS North West - Community Benefit Award Finalist
Structural Timber Awards - Healthcare Project of the year Shortlisted

Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy – HICSA

Situated next to the Stadium of Light and utilising a disused engine shed the Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy (HICSA) is a ground-breaking facility that will educate, train and upskill local people to create innovative factory-built new homes.  The building is a partnership between Sunderland City Council, Education Partnership North East (EPNE) and the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE). It includes a purposed built new build facility connected to the Existing engine shed.  Designed and delivered by MawsonKerr HICSA is an education facility that is both innovate and sustainable.

Sunderland people are known internationally for their ability to make things – from ships in bygone years to cars today.  We now have an opportunity to be a global leader when it comes to modern methods of construction (MMC), if we put in place the right infrastructure to deliver more highly-skilled people.  The Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy will create opportunities for the people of Sunderland, and for the city itself. To carve out a new industry and to build homes that will allow it to grow its reputation as a place to live, work and play.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council



Sunderland Hicsa MawsonKerr model bird eye view



Sunderland Hicsa MawsonKerr arrival view

HICSA will create a place in which young people develop exciting new skills, which will not only create opportunities for them, but will advance the agenda of the city when it comes to building homes using modern methods of construction that are faster to construct and deliver exemplary quality and energy efficiency standards that, ultimately, provide more flexible, modern homes that respond to the changing ways in which people are living.

Ellen Thinnesen, chief executive of EPNE, which comprises Sunderland College

This is a truly innovative project and we’re really proud to be playing a part in it – particularly because of the boost it will deliver to my home city. There is a huge opportunity for Sunderland to play a leading role in defining how homes of the future look and, through HICSA, to develop an ecosystem that will allow people from the city to build them too.

George Clarke Architect, Presenter, Founder MOBIE

Sunderland Hicsa MawsonKerr


Sunderland Hicsa MawsonKerr entrance visual


Sunderland Hicsa MawsonKerr


Sunderland Hicsa MawsonKerr internal perspective


Sunderland Hicsa MawsonKerr

Sunderland Hicsa MawsonKerr section cutaway

Sunderland Hicsa MawsonKerr model cutaway

Sunderland Hicsa MawsonKerr model cutaway

Sacred Heart High School Auditorium

The existing auditorium space at Sacred Heart High School had become dated with a combination of poor sight lines and limited capacity leading them to our services in reimagining this space.

Following an initial appraisal we established the re-raking of the seating would serve a double benefit in also creating a new space underneath the auditorium where a new outward looking staff and assembly facility could be located for Sacred Heart High School. The auditorium is also intended for touring theatre companies including the RSC, the facilities have been developed to give this flexibility as well as providing a new dance / theatre teaching space during everyday use to maximise the impact of the works.

We developed a simple stripped back palette of natural materials and earthy colours with the school to give a calming feel and inspiring for the young performers. The staff area opens out to give expansive views of the wooded estate the school sits in.

The build was completed in the live school environment on the first floor space including substantial alterations to the existing concrete structure over six months.


Newcastle Lord Mayors Award - Small Project Award


Theatre Royal Back of House

This latest capital project at the Theatre Royal looked to enhance the actor experience and comprised half million pound refurbishment project over six floors including dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces, band rooms, staff facilities with extensively reworked arrival and green room spaces.

Construction work within the Grade I listed building were phased to be completed on a floor by floor basis over 14 months while the building was alive with actors and staff fulfilling strict performance schedules for the majority of the works.

The Iconic building has had various works to the front of house 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 cellular spaces on the ground floor the back of house area has a new heart providing a welcoming arrival for newcomers and a relaxation area promoting interaction between theatre staff and touring companies.

Star & Shadow Cinema

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 Star & Shadow 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.



Newcastle Lord Mayors Award – Sustainability Award
RIBA McEwen Award















Prior to works

Prior to works

Studio Work

We have completed a number of recording studio’s and acoustically enhanced performance spaces nationwide. Through a strong working relationship with acoustic specialists we are delivering various projects for schools, large companies and private clients.

We have completed specialist facilities at several universities, one off buildings such as Sunbeams Music Centre worked and with a number of high profile music producers nationwide. This work requires a collaborative spirit to ensure the technical requirements of the space are aligned with the design ambition.

There is a keen attention to technical detail required to create successful ambience. Our approach marries the physics of sound with an uncomplicated aesthetic approach.