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Fw 60+ System Strikes Contemporary Note For Concert Hall

Published Date:

03 Mar 2006


It's highly unusual for a building to achieve iconic status within two years of its completion, but to be fair, nothing about the Sage Concert Hall in Gateshead, Tyne & Weir, is usual.

It’s highly unusual for a building to achieve iconic status within two years of its completion, but to be fair, nothing about the Sage Concert Hall in Gateshead, Tyne & Weir, is usual.

Designed by the leading architectural practice of Foster and Partners, the Concert Hall is an example of how the innovative thinking and problem-solving expertise of building envelope specialists like Schüco International are enabling architects across the world to translate their most ambitious and creative visions into reality.

Completed in 2004, having been ten years in the planning, the Sage Concert Hall is already not only a cherished local landmark and along with its neighbour - the Tyne Bridge - a potent visual symbol of the city’s regeneration, but also a building of national and international importance.

The Sage Hall in fact contains three auditoria or performance spaces, the largest of which is acoustically state-of-the-art and seats up to 1,650 people. The second hall can seat up to 400 people and caters for folk, jazz and chamber music while the third hall is a large rehearsal space for the Northern Sinfonia orchestra. It also forms the focus for the Regional Music School, which, like the Northern Sinfonia and Folkworks (an organisation dedicated to promoting folk, blues and jazz music), is now based in the building.

Each auditorium was originally conceived as a separate enclosure, but the exposed nature of the site dictated the need for a covered concourse along the waterfront to link them all together. The solution proposed by the architects was to ‘shrink-wrap’ a broad, enveloping roof around the buildings and to extend this over the concourse. (The latter constitutes a major public space and contains cafés, bars and shops as well as an information centre and the box office.)

The structure of the resulting building envelope is based on four major arches with fully glazed east and west elevations and large glazed openings in the stainless steel panelling of the main skin. The overall effect is simultaneously aspirational and elegant, a statement of high aesthetic intent contained within a building that is both practical and visually attractive.

After discussions with Schüco and the fabricators, Hurricane, it was decided that the FW 60+ aluminium façade system would be the ideal method of construction since it had the flexibility to accommodate both the vertical end sections and also the less-straightforward curved sections contained within the main envelope. Moreover, the system had already built up a good track record in a variety of large projects such as exhibition halls and leisure centres.

Another crucial factor in favour of FW 60+ was its ability to support glass loads of up to 5 kN; this was necessary because of the large module widths inherent in the design of the Sage building.

FW 60+ is also fully compatible with other Schüco systems and can accommodate insert units from Schüco’s Royal S and Royal C series of doors and windows. This, combined with its ability to deliver a measure of design freedom unavailable elsewhere, has meant that it has become one of the most widely used systems in mainland Europe.


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