Vaux Housing Sunderland

The Vaux housing 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.

More on the development HERE

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

Vaux Home of 2030

Having been joint winners in Home of 2030 competition, a HM Government backed initiative created to drive innovation in the provision of affordable, efficient and healthy green homes for all.

We were asked to develop the conceptual proposals to fit within the ambitious Vaux Housing development as part of the Riverside Sunderland masterplan.

The scheme is a condensed version and tessellates with the other joint winner Open Studio creating a dense cluster of homes around a courtyard which embodies all the important metrics behind the competition winning scheme. Our project is both low carbon in construction and during its lifespan in use, there is flexibility in the floor plate and crucial thoughts on how to connect inside and out while being an urban housing scheme.

More on the development here -








MawsonKerr process 2030 plan






Mount Grace Priory Cafe

MawsonKerr were commissioned to design and deliver a cafe within the grounds of Mount Grace Priory in order to increase visitors numbers, the sites offer and to enhance an underused area of the site. 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.

The café was part of an overall masterplan for the redevelopment of the gardens designed by Chris Beardshaw (Gardens World).  Mount Grace Priory cafe 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. The boards 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.  


North York Moors National Park – Best Non Residential Building
RIBA Yorkshire - Shortlisted
RICS Yorkshire – Tourism & Leisure 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

Beamish Football Centre

Beamish Football Centre is an redevelopment of the clubhouse in Stanley. Situated in county Durham the existing clubhouse was no longer fit for purpose and required a new centre to provide the club a more suitable home for their future ambitions.

Anna and Carl Marshall, who run Stanley Events, are addressing an immediate need in an area. They are transforming a community asset into a state-of-the-art centre of excellence for education and sport. The Centre is already used for football and fitness training, skills development and socialising. Their dream is to create a community hub for education and skills development. A centre for coaching excellence where footballers of all ability develop their love of the game and provide an asset that will revitalise sport in County Durham and attract others from across the region to learn, play and enjoy themselves.

“We dared to dream big and we know there are businesses and individuals who will be inspired by our vision for Beamish Football Centre. We are creating an incredible sporting and education venue. Not only to help people today, but to continue inspiring generations for years to come.”

- Carl Marshall, Client

Beamish Football Centre - MawsonKerr


Beamish Football Centre - MawsonKerr


Beamish Football Centre - MawsonKerr

Our design utilises much of the existing building to reduce the carbon footprint. For example the ground floor being largely retained and a new, small brick extension introduced the north and west seamlessly tied in. Furthermore, the first floor is replaced which was formerly a pitched roof space with limited footprint. A lightweight illuminated polycarbonate intervention is now introduced to this floor. Featuring a new kitchen, servery and function room with dual aspect terrace onto the surrounding pitches.

Sustainability was at the forefront of the proposals ethos, with the existing building not only reused but retrofitted to increase performance. Alongside a fabric first approach to new build elements, coupled with a natural ventilation strategy to reduce heating and cooling demands throughout.

Furthermore the new façade has an intelligent LED lighting system. This can be colour changed to light each elevation in a different colour as required.

More on the centre in the press HERE.

Beamish Football Centre - MawsonKerr


Beamish Football Centre - MawsonKerr


Beamish Football Centre - MawsonKerr

Swallowship House

This Northumberland rural house replaces a dilapidated sawmill and tractor shed in the Hexham Green Belt. Swallowship House is sensitive to its surroundings by being single storey, lying low within the existing tree line. By embedding itself physically within the landscape a subtle response has been created blending in with the local vernacular whilst encouraging direct access to nature from anywhere within the dwelling.

Swallowship is a paragraph 80 house meaning it meets the stringent exceptional design requirements set out in planning terms in order to gain approval within an isolated setting . Additionally the single storey proposal  will be a low carbon construction. A timber frame is clad with timber with a rhythm which is kept consistent around the elevations. This can be read internally with additional internal reference in the scissor truss. There are areas of timber panelling complemented by a muted palette of materials create a calming environment.








Our design breaks the home into three distinctive vaulted volumes each housing a different function. Swallowship has a living wing, a bedroom wing and in the centre a wing which houses the services and private spaces. Expansive views of the surrounding landscape are framed with specifically located fenestration to make the most of these opportunities. Vistas are also created looking through the entire building. From the entrance a view cuts across the three volumes to a large framed window.

Motifs from the existing sawmill are reinterpreted to respect and illuminate the sites history inside and out. Furthermore the existing barn outline being expressed internally with crossed trusses which silhouette the existing form. Swallowship House achieves a low energy heating demand through a fabric first approach. Benefitting from high airtightness, MVHR and insulation, alongside renewable energy sources including photovoltaics and ground source heat pump culminating in a sustainable three-bedroom home.

The landscaped area around the house completes the transition into the Northumberland surroundings. Swallowship will be on site in mid 2024 the project due for completion in 2025.









“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 be a certified Passivhaus 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

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.










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.