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CASE STUDY FAULKNERBROWNS: BEACON OF LIGHT


Foundation of Light is the charitable arm of Sunderland AFC, which had been running youth training and community activities for decades from an ad hoc mixture of hired and provisional spaces. The arrival of the charity’s Beacon of Light, located right next to the club’s stadium, has been transformational for both the organisation, which now has a high-profile building that matches its aspirations, and also for its diverse users, whose options and prospects have been blighted by ongoing underinvestment in schools, social services and civic leisure and learning facilities.


Thanks to its architects


FaulknerBrowns, Beacon of Light also represents an exciting new typology – a building that incorporates sports, entertainment and education all under one roof. Within a tight footprint, the facilities had to be stacked on top of each other. The smart move was placing the astroturfed, rooftop ‘football barn’, enveloped within a lightweight weatherproof structure, on top of the main building, which is comprised of four storeys of teaching and education space, and is next to the main sports and events hall, which takes the form of an insulated ‘box’. The glowing light from this rooftop barn fulfils the ‘beacon’ element in the building’s name, enhanced by a colour changing lighting scheme that allows the foundation to customise the


appearance of the building according to the type of event it is hosting. A triple-height street runs through the education and community facilities, with a feature staircase and balconies that encourage circulation and visual connection between each floor. The sports hall is now home to many of the local area’s amateur clubs, but is fully equipped to host concerts, events and entertainments. A World of Work Zone offers skills training in a range of professions to adults, and an education zone offers classroom- based learning for children, adults and families with 60 full-time equivalent places to key stage 3 and 4 formerly excluded youngsters, with a range of 28 enterprise courses. There is also a health and well-being zone, which


BOTH IMAGES: RICHARD CHIVERS


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