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AJ SPECIFICATION CASE STUDY

A library for the 21st century: The Word by FaulknerBrowns

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The National Centre for the Written Word in South Shields, Tyneside, features a 6.5m-diameter chandelier

The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, in South Shields, Tyneside, represents a real paradigm shift in the public library building typology. It is a library for the 21st century, celebrating the dynamic relationship between people, books, traditional media and interactive technologies, in a truly inspiring environment. The Word is a place for people; the human-centric design places the individual at its heart, with the opportunity to interact, learn and inspire.

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Dwgs the word1

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Photos the word2

The purity and strength of a circular building emerged from the influences and requirements set out by the urban grain, and the social and community ambitions. It is representative of The Word’s contribution to society; a democratic space of equal parts. Internally, a rich array of volumes range from the grand central forum to individually concentrated reader spaces, elegantly presenting themselves as a sequence of experiences that uplift the senses. 

The building’s appearance is inspired by the fanning out of the pages of a book, and the material selection celebrates the site’s distinctive industrial heritage. The clay terracotta responds to the rich stone hues of the Grade I-listed Old Town Hall and Grade II-listed St Hilda’s Church, creating a modern architectural expression which blends with its sensitive context.

Nick Heyward, project architect, FaulknerBrowns Architects

Chandelier specification

We wanted to create a luminaire that was a focal point for the circular central atrium. We worked with Swedish manufacturer Ateljé Lyktan to develop a 6.5m-diameter chandelier comprising 66 circular, colour-changing light drums, a reference to the historic glass-making industry of South Shields. 

With this lighting feature, the details are just as important as the overall impact. These include fritted diffusers in the light drums, allowing fully programmable scene settings.

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Photos the word3

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In addition, the LED modules allow each fitting’s colour temperature to be controlled as part of the building’s wellbeing strategy, with annual cycles from a warm 3,000K to a cool 6,000K. As well as the main lighting units, the design allows for the integration of an additional 12 spotlight and six PA system drums. 

The final product is a multifunctional feature luminaire, which complements the building’s architecture and enhances the visitor experience.

Nick Heyward, project architect,  FaulknerBrowns Architects

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Photos the word4

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Photos the word5

Project data

Start on site April 2015 
Completion October 2016
Gross internal floor area 4,115m2
Form of contract  Single-stage Design and Build JCT 2011 
Construction cost £13.5 million, including market square refurbishment
Construction cost per m2 £3,280, including Cat B, FF+E and AV
Architect FaulknerBrowns Architects
Client South Tyneside Council and Muse Developments
Structural engineer Curtins Consulting
M&E consultant Desco
Quantity surveyor Rex Procter & Partners
Project manager Ward Robinson
CDM co-ordinator FaulknerBrowns Architects
Approved building inspector South Tyneside Council
Main contractor Bowmer & Kirkland
CAD software used Revit
Annual CO2 emissions 27.52kg/m²

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Dwgs the word2

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Dwgs the word3

Photos the word6

Photos the word6

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