Vaux Housing

The Vaux neighbourhood forms the first phase of Riverside Sunderland’s transformation; masterplanned by Proctor and Matthews Architects and working closely in collaboration with Vaux has been designed as an exemplar of high-density city living and working. The neighbourhood is inspired by the history, topography and rich cultural heritage of Sunderland, whilst adopting a Smart City infrastructure, and a sustainable development model that will contribute to the city’s carbon-neutral ambition.

Vaux will provide 91 houses and 41 apartments set on the edge of the dramatic River Wear gorge. Vaux will extend this district up to the escarpment edge, creating a bold new silhouette inspired by Sunderland’s historic industrial skyline.

The housing is arranged in five clusters creating a series of sheltered mews streets and courtyards; each with a distinctive character.  Each cluster includes communal amenity spaces to encourage social interaction between neighbours and provide space for children to play close to home.

Three exemplar house types inspired by historic local precedents have been designed to suit 21st century living patterns. The homes will utilise Modern Methods of Construction and a range of sustainable and low carbon technologies (including Passivhaus) and renewable energy contributing to a city-wide commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030. All have home working space and private multi-level outdoor amenity space. Parking is located offsite in ‘car barns’ allowing the streets to become the focus of community life.

Designed to promote positive external activity and interaction; public squares, streets and play areas for children will provide a forum for events to take place and form spaces where people can meet to take in the views of the river gorge and wider city.

Vaux is part of a wider City commitment to become a low-carbon economy, be carbon neutral by 2030, be digitally connected, enable people to live healthier lives, provide access to natural assets and deliver clean, green and safe neighbourhoods.

Due to be completed in time for the Sunderland Future Living Expo, a public event that will showcase a new way of city living and the transformation of Riverside Sunderland into one of the UK’s most sustainable and liveable cities for the 21st Century. Incorporating Sunderland’s first passivhaus development this car free development aims to be an exemplar of sustainable living.

2 MawsonKerr Vaux Location Plan


3 MawsonKerr - Edge House


4 MawsonKerr _Vaux Unit Mix


5 MawsonKerr Vaux Pele Lambton View






8 MawsonKerr Vaux_ Plater's Way 9 MawsonKerr Type A - Edge House Furniture - 3D View

10 MawsonKerr Vaux Masionette

11 MawsonKerr Vaux Gill Square


1 MawsonKerr Vaux Galleys Gill


“The project will be an exemplar of eco-housing in the North East, which we hope will inspire others”

Helen Jarvis, CoHUT

MawsonKerr have been working with the Co-housing upon Tyne group (CoHUT) to design their homes in the East End of Newcastle on a brownfield site.

The scheme is a mixture of 25 houses, flats and duplexes all with community, sustainability and futureproofing at the forefront of its concept and will be the first of its kind in the North East.

Four ‘blocks’ wrapping around the communal garden and courtyard allowing for indoor outdoor space with views across the Tyne valley.  To the northeast of the site is the common house, a community building which houses; a kitchen; dining area for community meals; laundry facilities; a multi-purpose space; and additional bedroom spaces for visitors, all of which help contribute to the schemes sharing of resources.

The project has been designed to Passivhaus standard which will allow for high comfort standards and very low energy usage.  This coupled, with its low embodied carbon and in use carbon agenda along with an increase in biodiversity and water management makes this at the forefront of sustainable design for the region.

The project has achieved planning and we are currently working in collaboration with CoHUT and TOWN, the enabling developer, to deliver the project.

Cohousing Upon Tyne


Housing Design Awards 2022

MawsonKerr CoHousing Upon Tyne


MawsonKerr CoHousing Upon Tyne


MawsonKerr CoHousing Upon Tyne


MawsonKerr CoHousing Upon Tyne


MawsonKerr CoHousing Upon Tyne


MawsonKerr CoHousing Upon Tyne


MawsonKerr CoHousing Upon Tyne


MawsonKerr CoHousing Upon Tyne


MawsonKerr CoHousing Upon Tyne

Mount Grace Priory Cafe

Mount Grace Priory is the most complete surviving Carthusian Monastery in Britain dating back to the 14th Century including a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Grade I & II* Listed buildings. MawsonKerr were commissioned to design and deliver a café within the grounds in order to increase visitors numbers, the sites offer and to enhance an underused area of the site.

The café was part of an overall masterplan for the redevelopment of the gardens designed by Chris Beardshaw (Gardens World).  The café reaches out into the landscape and becomes part of the interpretation of the site whilst increasing dwell time and visitor experience.  We worked closely with Chris and the team in the integration of the café within the landscape.

From the outset the project has been envisioned as a contemporary building which is respectful to the context, the design refers to traditional wood working techniques, vernacular forms and traditional materials evidenced in the Monument. The oak screen ‘reaches’ out into the landscape and the double pitched form mounted on the oak screen refers to the crossing of thresholds – the boundary walls of the monk’s cloister with the repeating pitches of the monk’s cell’s beyond.

In such a sensitive historic and environmental context, the specification of the materials has to be carefully and creatively considered. The Oak screen was manufactured from unused 30-year-old oak boards which were being stored at an English Heritage Store at Helmsley, North Yorkshire minimising the use of new hardwoods. Slate material for the roof and external walls was sourced from a reclaimed stock of local slate, this was selected as the material requires very low levels of maintenance and can be easily repaired or replaced when required.  

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.

Mill Lodge, Dalton

Set into a steep embankment our proposal for the reconfigured house in Dalton, Northumberland, created a new plateau for the home to sit on by burying the garage, music room and other ancillary spaces on a semi subterranean floor. In doing this the upper two floors are rewarded with expansive  views of the south facing natural gorge.

Using locally sourced natural materials in stone and slate, which suited the historic surroundings, we have introduced modern details with overhanging eaves and large glazed openings where possible to blend old and new in this contemporary home. Incorporating borehole groundwater source heating and PV panels we aimed to optimise the energy use.










Bigg Market, Newcastle

The key historic centre of Newcastle has undergone a major facelift as part of a Townscape Heritage Initiative funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with MawsonKerr as lead consultant and architects. The project has involved 17 of the surrounding buildings on Bigg Market, Cloth Market and Groat Market along with the public realm and iconic Victorian Gentlemen's WC.

Infamous as part of Newcastle's legendary nightlife, this core of the city had become neglected and many of the historic building facades needing urgent work ahead of the original detail being lost forever. As part of the £3.2 million budget NE1 are organising various events and workshops to celebrate the enhancement of the area.

Levens Hall Restaurant

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. The house has been in the Bagot Family for centuries who were looking to create a contemporary restaurant within the grounds to complement the amazing historical fair that has been a tourist destination for decades. Famous for the topiary hedges of amazing scale and variety it is regularly used for film sets and garden programmes.

We worked with the family and staff looking at a number of different sites and design options within the grounds before homing in on a proposal that was simple in plan with 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.

Cantilever House

We are appointed to create a new housing model which can be arranged and adaptable to suit multiple locations across a steeply sloping rural site, providing multiple living conditions within the same structural framework.

County Durham has many sites of significant terrain, which can present issues to standard housing types but here we made this situation an opportunity for the cantilever living space. The design has sleeping accommodation embedded into the site in the lower ground floor area which in itself becomes a plinth for the larger accommodation block above to soar over. Designed as a timber frame solution, the upper block can be arranged with several bedroom options, larger vaulted living space and a number of cladding alternatives giving a variety of outcomes.

The palette of external materials in this self build development keeps to a rural and natural temperament, this has been driven with a strong sustainable agenda. The palette relates strongly to vernacular architecture giving connection within the area and an indication of availability both locally and naturally. The material palette we are suggesting for the scheme includes natural stone, timber cladding and glass maximising daylight.

Back High Street Mixed Use Scheme

Back High Street is a tight historic alley through the Gosforth conservation area of Newcastle characterised in recent history for the small industrial units nestled in the tight urban grain. Several had become vacant over time with an opportunity for redevelopment.

Our scheme unlocks the site with a new three floor block for multiple uses. A single five bedroom courtyard house has been created with passive house aspirations, rooftop productive garden and its own private access. This sits back to back with a block comprising office on the ground floor and two floors of assisted living apartments. This fronts onto the Back High Street giving the street enhanced frontage. The material palette has been developed giving a distinctive urban character that we hoped complements the neighbouring context.