The Word Wins RIBA National Award
The Word continued its fantastic collection of awards when the RIBA Awards Group announced their prestigious National Awards on June 22nd The Word was one of three North East projects and now goes through to be considered for the shortlist for the ultimate architectural award, the RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best building of the year.
The award also follows previous success in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards North East, RIBA NE Regional awards and the Constructing Excellence North East (CENE) awards.
The iconic building is the first phase of South Tyneside Council and developer Muse Developments’ ambitious £100m South Shields 365 regeneration masterplan to transform the town centre and has already helped to transform an area of South Shields in addition to providing a vital community resource.
Opening to national acclaim in October and welcoming over 236,000 visitors in its first seven months, The Word was designed by FaulknerBrown Architects and constructed by lead contractor, Bowmer & Kirkland, as a library for the 21st century. The building incorporates a library, exhibition space, FabLab with 3D printers and vinyl and laser cutters, television and radio studio, children’s immersive storytelling area, OpenZone IT suite, café, and a rooftop viewing terrace with views out over the River Tyne.
The RIBA judge’s report praised all elements of the building, “Located close to the historic Old Town Hall and St Hilda’s Church in the heart of South Shields adjacent to the south bank of the Tyne and the ferry between North and South Shields in an urban area undergoing major regeneration, The Word, is an outstanding, public-sector project culturally, socially and architecturally.”
“The attention to detail is superb and the judges were delighted to see this in a building of this scale – every element was considered and designed, from the bespoke bookcases that populated the atrium wall to the joints in the shuttering of the in-situ concrete.”
“The ingenuity of the permanent display and temporary exhibitions allow for the building to maintain its dynamic nature and continue to give its visitors a zest for learning. The Word is a happy uplifting place and is the embodiment of inclusion for all ages – it caters for all with no compromises. It is a success on many levels and it is a testament to the building and all involved that library membership and visitors have increase dramatically including those from its larger neighbouring conurbations.”
“Not only is The Word an outstanding, public-sector project culturally, socially and architecturally, but it establishes an eminently satisfactory relationship with the grade I listed Old Town Hall to the north-east, the listed St Hilda’s Church to the south-east and the newly paved Market Square between the two.”
“Overall, this is an outstanding work both architecturally and in urban design terms.” David Wells, Regional Director at Muse Developments, commented, “The whole team are absolutely delighted with the success of The Word – a national RIBA award is a fantastic achievement and due reward for an incredible building that has already become an attraction in its own right. More importantly, it’s a bold statement of confidence by South Tyneside Council that the town centre will be regenerated in an equally successful manner and we’re very proud to be involved in this project.”
Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, added, ““We’re delighted that The Word has been recognised as being among the top buildings in the country with yet another prestigious accolade. ”
“We said from day one that The Word would be a venue of regional and national significance, and now a respected professional body has confirmed exactly that. “This award commends not just the superb design quality of the building, but the benefit to the community and its importance in the context of the wider South Shields 365 masterplan.”