The Beam
In Brief

Sunderland City Council/Carillion/Igloo


Construction Value:
£13.5 Million

June 2019

The Beam’ is a speculative workspace, and is the first phase centrepiece of the ambitious regeneration of the former Vaux Brewery site in Sunderland City Centre. 

This is the first building to be completed on the landmark site and part of the 15-year regeneration project which, once complete, will extend the city centre, create thousands of jobs and have a major social and economic impact on the region. It is a catalyst for Sunderland’s future.

The building provides five floors of Grade A office accommodation with views across the River Wear towards the Wearmouth Bridge and ground floor retail, café and restaurant offers.

Designed with five themes in mind: a healthy office, a sustainable workplace, an appealing workplace, a lean building, and a contextual response, The Beam sets a high standard of workplace accommodation for the site.

The project was a joint venture between Sunderland City Council, Carillion and Igloo. The Beam is now solely owned by Sunderland City Council.

The Beam won an RIBA North East Award 2021. You can read the judges comments here.


As part of the wider 5.5 hectare Riverside Sunderland development, The Beam is central to this significant regeneration project in Sunderland city centre.

The scheme is planned as a mixed use development, including offices, shops, restaurants, cafes, an hotel, and residential apartments. New public spaces allow for paths and cycle routes. City-side the development will link across to Keel Square and the regenerated Music and Arts Quarter. The social impact on the city is eagerly anticipated as follow-on phases for new Civic Offices are about to commence construction.

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“Not only has it helped bring thousands of jobs to the city, but it has also helped breathe new life into this area of the city centre which has for so long been underutilised and we would like to thank FCBS for all of their hard work to deliver a really iconic building"

Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Counc

“The Beam was a huge statement of intent when we began drawing up plans for Riverside Sunderland and we’re absolutely delighted with the impact it is already having on the ever-evolving city skyline."

Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council

"The Beam offers a lean, pared-down and convincing alternative. In so doing, it offers a highly attainable and sustainable office model also rooted in local urban context that could be used to galvanise regeneration in struggling towns and cities elsewhere"

Ike Ijeh, Building Magazine
Contextual Response

Horizontal lines and prow reflect the shipping heritage of Sunderland, whilst bronze finishes are reminiscent of the brewing kettles of the Vaux Brewery

The design is rooted in its place – a building for Sunderland. A ‘liner’ of a building, its horizontal lines and prow reflect the shipping heritage of Sunderland, while bronze finishes are reminiscent of not only shipping, but of the brewing kettles of the Vaux Brewery.

An exposed steel structure resonates with the trusses of the Wearmouth Bridge. Externally its expression rejects the trend for full height vertical windows, and instead has an holistic approach to shading and ventilation through its softly perforated, horizontally pleated façade.

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Sustainable & Healthy

This sustainable workplace promotes a healthy work-life balance. Office spaces wrap around a protected courtyard atrium which is vibrantly planted and open to the sky. This space lends itself to staff meetings, lunch breaks and events and brings daylight and fresh air deep into the building’s core.

Opening windows and generous floor to ceiling heights help natural ventilation and allow for natural lighting throughout. Exposed concrete ceilings provide thermal mass keeping the building warm in winter and cool in summer.

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Floorplates are designed to be sub-divisible into multiple demises... Future proofing is around not only flexibility and adaptability, but also around climate change adaption.

Lean Building

An innovative low embodied energy, hybrid steel and pre-cast concrete frame that was quick to construct

The project has been efficient and lean in its construction to not only ensure its embodied energy is minimised, but also that it is cost effective. This has been achieved through an innovative low embodied energy, hybrid steel and pre-cast concrete frame that was quick to construct.

The lean construction system gives a desired character and finish architecturally and helps to reduce embodied carbon – often overlooked as the major carbon consumer in the life of the building.

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2021 RIBA North East Award

2020 BCO Commercial Workplace

2020 Insider Media North East, Commercial Development of the Year

"With the highest health and sustainability credentials, and acting as a catalyst for wider investment, this remarkable building has reset expectations for Sunderland."
BCO Awards Judges

Client: Joint venture between Sunderland City Council, Carillion and Igloo. The Beam is now solely owned by Sunderland City Council
Landscape Architects: 
Landscape Projects Ltd
M&E Engineer: Desco
Project Manager: 
Siglion / Igloo Regeneration
QS: Gleeds
Structural Engineer: Cundall
Main Contractor: Tolent Construction




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