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


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.

Ellison Building Northumbria University

MawsonKerr were commissioned by Northumbria University to consider options for their existing Ellison Building to form a new Vice Chancellors Office. Additional to this were options for student catering facilities and re-orientated lecture theatre. As one of the first buildings that students are presented with, opening up of the administration facilities were proposed and several options on the entrance lobby with balcony over.