Combining world class acoustic performance, striking aesthetics and sustainable design, this Tyneside landmark comprises three symphony halls, a music school and a rehearsal and community performance hall.
As principal engineering consultant, our specialist building designers were responsible for civil, structural and building services design of the £70 million iconic project – a brownfield development that encouraged regeneration in the Gateshead and Newcastle area.
Achieving the requirements of Gateshead Council and architect Sir Norman Foster was the biggest driver for innovation when designing and installing the building services at The Sage. This meant close communication and co-operation between Foster and Partners, ourselves, mechanical and electrical contractor Haden Young and main contractor Laing O’ Rourke.
The largest hall seats 1650 and is designed to world class acoustic standards. The second hall seats 450 while the third provides rehearsal facilities for the resident orchestra, and public exhibition space. The music school extends the full length of the building with spectacular views across the River Tyne and is equipped with high quality practice rooms and recording studios. The halls are generally constructed of reinforced concrete with steel spaceframe ‘lids’ enclosed by 300mm thick concrete roofs.
Even before it opened The Sage Gateshead had already won the 2004 Robert Stephenson prize for concept and design. After the inaugural performances it went on to win the Best Public Building Award in the 2005 British Construction Industry Awards, the RIBA Inclusive Design Award, the Gold Roses Design Award for Best Public Building, the RICS North East Renaissance Award for Design and Innovation plus Tourism and Leisure and a 2006 Civic Trust Award.
The Sage Gateshead’s sustainable design features include minimal comfort cooling and environmental conditioning by use of thermal mass, natural ventilation and solar shading.
Audiences are kept at a comfortable temperature by displacement ventilation systems. The concourse area uses mixed-mode ventilation – developed using a wind tunnel model and computational fluid dynamics. This consists of air quality and temperature controlled warm air, which can be supplemented with integrated natural ventilation. Other sustainable design features include heat recovery on all major ventilation plants, a high degree of thermal insulation and low energy lighting.
The project benefited from the close involvement of and management of the mechanical and electrical services supply chain. Low voltage distribution boards were completely assembled and tested prior to delivery, allowing fast track electrical commissioning.
As a core element of the funding process, the Building Research Establishment undertook an independent Environmental Performance Audit of the project in accordance with the principles of BREEAM. The resulting ‘excellent’ rating was a key factor in securing a lottery grant from the Arts Council of England.
All this combined to create a public building that is fully inclusive and accessible for all as well as being a centrepiece for the regenerated Tyneside area.