The Sage Gateshead is a cultural landmark in the UK. Its largest hall seats 1,650 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. Halls are generally constructed of reinforced concrete with steel spaceframe "lids" enclosed by concrete roofs 12 inches (300 mm) thick.
As principal engineering consultant, our specialist building designers were responsible for civil, structural, and building services design for this iconic £70 million project. A brownfield development, the project 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 cooperation between Mott MacDonald and Foster and Partners, mechanical and electrical contractor Haden Young, and main contractor Laing O’ Rourke.
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.
Even before it opened, The Sage Gateshead 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.
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.