The new Sage Gateshead will be a regional music centre of international standing, with an expected half million visitors each year. Designed after extensive consultation with audiences and musicians, the Sage fills a gap on the map for music venues in the North-East and will help to consolidate Tynesides position as an arts destination in its own right. The building is already a local landmark, forming the heart of an exciting project to regenerate the areas river frontage. It lies alongside the new pedestrian Baltic Millennium and the Tyne Bridge with its great arch, which is echoed in the shell-like form of the Sages roof.
The Sage provides three auditoria and accommodation for the Regional Music School and also acts as a base for the Northern Sinfonia and Folkworks, which promotes folk, jazz and blues performances. The largest of the three main performance spaces is acoustically state-of-the-art and seats up to 1,650 people. The second hall caters for folk, jazz and chamber music, with an informal and flexible seating arrangement for up to 400 people. The third space is a large rehearsal hall for the Northern Sinfonia and also forms the focus of the Music School. The School will be accessible to children, schools and people of all ages, raising the profile of the region as an innovative provider of musical education.
Each auditorium was conceived as a separate enclosure but the windswept nature of the site suggested a covered concourse along the waterfront to link them. As a result the entire complex is sheltered beneath a broad, enveloping roof that is shrink-wrapped around the buildings beneath and extends over the concourse. Containing cafs, bars, shops, an information centre and the box office, the concourse is a major public space. It acts as a foyer for the auditoria and as a common room for the Music School, which is located beneath it. Back-of-house hospitality areas have been kept to a minimum to encourage performers to interact with students during the day and to mix with their audiences in the concourse bars in the evenings. With its informal atmosphere and unrivalled views out across the Tyne, this should become one of the citys great social spaces.
An atmosphere of informality is encouraged by reducing back-of-house hospitality areas so that performers mix with their audience and with students in the concourse bars.
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Image 3 John