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Two great surprises in Sunderland

I went to Sunderland last week and visited the council offices.

I went to Sunderland last week and visited the council offices. The meetings were interesting and informative but I had expected that. What I had not expected was what a fabulous building the civic centre is. Designed by Basil Spence in the 1960s, it consists of two linked hexagons and is all built in a dark brindled brick. 

As you can see, the material extends to the landscape outside, and the pavers, used both internally and externally, are in sections of a hexagon. The council chamber is a gem, including a wall of bricks laid with half-brick gaps between them (sorry I don’t know what this is called). In fact there is nothing to dislike apart from the long, disorientating corridors with no natural light.

The building is not listed and does have some problems. Let’s hope it survives. 

When I arrived at Sunderland station to catch my train home I saw something that I knew about (had even written about) but had forgotten – Jason Bruges Studio’s wall of glass blocks behind which pixellated people appear to walk. Simple, clever and as captivating as I had been led to believe.

A good day out.

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