The Word, South Shields

The Word, South Shields

A central library and digital hub in the heart of Hebburn Town Centre, South Shields. The new community hub is the first phase of the wider redevelopment of South Shields town centre and part of the 365 Masterplan.

Arts & Culture - North East

Project Overview

The Word' is a central library and digital hub in the heart of Hebburn Town Centre, South Shields. The new community hub is the first phase of the wider redevelopment of South Shields town centre and part of the 365 Masterplan.

The building incorporates a library, exhibition space, FabLab with 3D printers, media studio, children’s immersive storytelling area, IT suite, café, and a rooftop viewing terrace with views over the River Tyne.

Besides the main building there is a hardstanding 40 space car park overlooking the Quay, and the development of the market place consists of new paving, new highways works and a steel frame canopy.

BREEAM Excellent 

Images copyright Hufton and Crow

Services we provided:

  • Civils & StructuresCivils & Structures
  • EnvironmentalEnvironmental


South Tyneside Council

We worked with:

Architect: Faulkner Browns
QS: Rex Procter & Partners

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The Challenge

  1. The building is a prestigious new development for the area, and the first phase of the overall masterplan for the Town. As such it was critical that the exposed concrete was of the highest quality possible, particularly considering the buildings location in a coastal / marine environment.

  2. The new four storey building is circular on plan with a full height central atrium and the internal structure is expressed as an architectural feature. Additionally the superstructure needed to have adequate capacity to hang exhibits within the central atrium.

  3. The site is located within 250m of the River Tyne and so poor ground conditions were anticipated.

Our Solution

  1. We worked closely with the concrete sub-contractor to develop sample slab soffits and columns to ensure that the quality of finish could be agreed prior to any works progressing on site. We also agreed methodology for dealing with any imperfections that might be encountered on site.

  2. We undertook a rigorous options appraisal of all potential superstructure options in conjunction with the team to establish a solution that met the brief and achieved best value. The final solution incorporated an exposed RC frame.

  3. We undertook detailed investigations at the earliest possible stage in order to establish the nature of underlying alluvials and also determine the depth of existing rock. Additionally, we undertook specific testing of the bedrock to ensure that pile designs could be completed and cost allowances made to suit. 


Society for Public Architecture, Construction, Engineering and Surveying (SPACES)

  • Civic Building of the Year and

  • Community Award

bRICS National Grand Finals

  • Community Benefit Category

IStructE Yorkshire Awards

  • Medium Structures by Large Company category

Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT)

  • Excellence in Architectural Technology

RTPI North East Awards

  • Planning Excellence North East

British Construction Industry Awards (BCI)

  • Social Infrastructure Project of the Year

Constructing Excellence North East Awards

  • Value Category

RIBA National
RIBA North East

  • Regional Building of the Year

  • North East Award 2017

RICS North East

  • Tourism & Leisure Category

  • Design through Innovation Category

  • Community Benefit Category

  • Project of the Year

LABC Building Excellence Awards

  • Best Public Service Building

Living North Awards

  • Best Regeneration or Restoration Project

Mixology North Awards 2016

  • Best Regeneration or Restoration

The Word, South Shields

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