Exterior work has started on the community sports centre in South Tyneside which is the next stage of the Hebburn Community Hub. The building will be clad in special weathering steel panels which will gradually change colour over time due to a natural oxide layer which gives it its rusty tone.
This material, called Cor-Ten, was famously used to create the Angel of the North and was chosen by Architects FaulknerBrowns to reflect the area’s industrial heritage. The sheeting will change colour from a blue-grey to orange and then to a deep reddish brown.
Over 50 tonnes of the panelling will be used on the hub which is being constructed by Willmott Dixon. The material is widely used in the marine, structural and architectural industries.
Lee McLaughlin, Project Director at FaulknerBrowns, said: “When any building I conceived, there is always debate on which external material to use. With the Hebburn Hub we had a great opportunity to engage with the rich local heritage of the area. At consultation stage, public feedback on the use of the metal façade system was extremely positive.
“We wanted the building to appear less processed, less commercial, instead opting to allow the building to naturally evolve its character through seasons and time, and above all, ensure that the project did not rely on heavy or constant maintenance.”
Chief executive of South Tyneside Council, Martin Swales, said: “This is a key milestone in the regeneration of Hebburn and once again demonstrates our appetite for innovation and world-class design. Hebburn Hub will showcase the very best in contemporary architecture whilst referencing the area’s industrial past. We’re looking forward to it taking shape over the coming months.”
The two storey building will house a six-lane indoor swimming pool, sports hall, dance studio, fitness studio, learning centre, customer service centre, meeting rooms and a café. The scheme also includes a 70-space car park behind the Hebburn shopping centre. It is anticipated that a major retailer would be attracted to the town due to the increase in footfall set to be generated by the hub.
Councillor James Sewell said: “Make no bones about it, some supermarket will want to be here soon. As soon as that footfall starts coming in and this place starts booming again – and it will boom as a town – they will want to be in here.”
Dozens of outmoded properties were demolished in Hebburn town centre as part of wider plans to improve the area.
Willmott Dixon initially began work on the hub last November and so far the project is progressing without any major problems.
The project is on target for completion in March 2015.