Sage Gateshead was developed by Foster and Partners following an architectural design competition launched in 1997 and managed by RIBA Competitions. Over 100 architects registered their interest and 12 – a mixture of local, national and international talent – were invited to prepare concept designs.
Sage Gateshead is a concert venue and also a centre for musical education, located in Gateshead on the south bank of the River Tyne, in North East England. It opened in 2004 and is occupied by North Music Trust.
The venue is part of the Gateshead Quays development, which also includes the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.
Planning for the centre began in the early 1990s, when the orchestra of Sage Gateshead, Royal Northern Sinfonia, with encouragement from Northern Arts, began working on plans for a new concert hall. They were soon joined by regional folk music development agency Folkworks, which ensured that the needs of the region’s traditional music were taken into consideration and represented in Sage Gateshead’s programme of concerts, alongside Rock, Pop, Dance, Hip Hop, classical, jazz, acoustic, indie, country and world, Practice spaces for professional musicians, students and amateurs were an important part of the provision.
The planning and construction process cost over £70 million, which was raised primarily through National Lottery grants. The contractor was Laing O’Rourke. The centre has a range of patrons, notably Sage Group which contributed a large sum of money to have the building named after it. Sage plc has helped support the charitable activities of Sage Gateshead since its conception. The venue opened over the weekend 17–19 December 2004.
Sage Gateshead was developed by Foster and Partners following an architectural design competition launched in 1997 and managed by RIBA Competitions. Over 100 architects registered their interest and 12 – a mixture of local, national and international talent – were invited to prepare concept designs. A shortlist of six was then interviewed with Foster and Partners unanimously selected as the winner. The Design has gone on to win a number of awards: the RIBA Inclusive Design Award, Civic Trust Award and The Journal North East Landmark of the Year Award.
As a conference venue, the building hosted the Labour Party’s Spring conference in February 2005 and the Liberal Democrat Party conference in March 2012. On 18 August 2009, Sage Gateshead was selected to host the 2010 and 2011 National Union of Students annual conference. The 2010 Annual Conference took place 13–15 April 2010.
The centre occupies a curved glass and stainless steel building designed by Foster and Partners, Buro Happold (structural engineering), Mott MacDonald (engineering consultants) and Arup (acoustics), with views of Newcastle and Gateshead Quaysides, the Tyne Bridge and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.
Sage Gateshead contains three performance spaces; a 1,700-seater, a 450-seater, and a smaller rehearsal and performance hall, the Northern Rock Foundation Hall. The rest of the building was designed around these three spaces to allow for maximum attention to detail in their acoustic properties. Structurally it is three separate buildings, insulated from each other to prevent noise and vibration travelling between them. The gaps between them may be seen as one walks around inside. A special ‘spongy’ concrete mix was used in the construction, with a higher-than-usual air capacity to improve the acoustic. These three buildings are enclosed (but not touched) by the now-famous glass and steel shell. Sage One was intended as an acoustically perfect space, modelled on the Musikverein in Vienna. Its ceiling panels may be raised and lowered and curtains drawn across the ribbed wooden side walls, changing the sound profile of the room to suit any type of music. Sage Two is a smaller venue, possibly the world’s only ten-sided performance space.
The building is open to the public throughout the day.