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Left The Foundation of Light has grown out of Sunderland AFC, and now offers children life and careers advice, as well as football coaching


Bottom Although the launch of FaulknerBrowns’s specially designed Beacon of Light has been hampered by the lockdowns, it has fast-become a centre for children in Sunderland


DESIGN FOR RESILIENCE 085


WHEN FACING MASSIVE economic, social and cultural uncertainty, there are skills the design community has in abundance – primarily, inventiveness, vision and resilience – that need to be marshalled for the greatest good. As we emerge, blinking, from the shocks and lockdowns of 2020, into the light of a more positive 2021 (vaccines willing), which new and recent projects are likely to be making a difference to those most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic?


While the long-term consequences for jobs and economies are still unknown, opportunities for education and employment for young people have been placed under enormous strain, not just by the three month closure of schools but also the degree to which teaching has had to go partially or fully online, both in mainstream and higher education. Which is why Sunderland’s Beacon of Light, which opened in 2018, continues to reap rewards with its inventive model of facilities for health, well-being and social enrichment, along with education and employment mentoring for the youth of Sunderland, an area long blighted by high unemployment and dwindling local authority provision.


includes a Centre Circle Kitchen and a Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food kitchen, where families participate in healthy eating programmes.


The brief for the building was evolved through consultation with Foundation of Light’s partners and local grassroots clubs, as well as local schools. Fundraising came from grants and donations from individuals, businesses and charitable trusts. Prior to the pandemic, it was predicted that this building would help the Foundation generate up to £73m worth of social return-on- investment over the next 20 years. Though that target may have to be revised, the building – during the summer months, after lockdown was lifted – still proved invaluable, with the generous dimensions of


reception and circulation spaces proving ideal for safe social distancing, and the users delighted to get back to their favourite sports activities.


Client Foundation of Light Architect FaulknerBrowns Area 11,222m2 Cost £18m


Awards 2019 RIBA North East Regional Award, 2020 Civic Trust Award, and a Civic Trust Special Award for Community Impact & Engagement Award; Best Educational Building, LABC Northern Region Building Excellence Awards 2019


Established by Sunderland Football Club’s outreach charity Foundation of Light, Beacon of Light glimmers to one side of the team’s arena (called the Stadium of Light), animated by the multiple teams of youngsters being trained there – and not just to play football, but given careers advice and additional skills (see case study, left). Tis generous, shed-like space has gone on to win multiple awards for the role it has played within the community, as well as the way in which architects FaulknerBrowns’s design has made an asset – and a pandemic-friendly one – out of the building’s unusual programme. Project architect Paul Richardson says, ‘Te Foundation of Light grew out of the football club, and was originally based in the stadium too. Tey used mainly office space for classroom space. Tis building was a big leap of faith. It’s such a large project.’ A year after opening (but before the Covid-19 lockdown), its visitor figures were very impressive – 1,500 a week, helping the charity to generate an income from all the local clubs and organisations, events and performances that can take place there.


Tough it was silent through late March to July 2020, as soon as lockdown lifted, the building reopened and proved equal to the new Covid constraints. According to FaulknerBrowns’s communications manager Edward Shanks, ‘We had some fantastic feedback on the ease with which [Beacon of


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