National Glass Centre

Gollifer Langston Architects, Sunderland, 1998


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The Glass Centre echoes the industrial heritage of Wearside buildings 

Tim Soar (website)     Download Original

  • The Glass Centre echoes the industrial heritage of Wearside buildings    
  • Escape bridge    
  • A canopy marks the roof end    
  • Glass Centre on River Wear    
  • Entrance tunnel    
  • Chimneys indicate the industrial use of the building    
  • The meeting room overlooks the restaurant    
  • Manufacturing space    
  • Exhibition in progress    
  • The double-height restaurant recieves plentiful daylight    
  • View over River Wear    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Upper floor plan    
  • Section    
  • Air extraction sketch    
  • Isometric detail of glass roof and details at roof edge    
  • Key section and cut-away isometric of glass roof and structure    

Glass factory and visitor centre by the River Wear with an extensive glazed roof that visitors can walk on

The National Glass Centre was the first cultural building to open in the UK funded by a Capital Arts Lottery award. A competition initiated by Tyne and Wear Development Corporation set out to find a design that would celebrate the heritage of glass making in Sunderland and support the development of new glass production for the 21st century.

The building was designed to emerge from the land rather than imposing upon it. Upon entering on the first floor and looking at the building from the road access, all that is visible are the canopies, twin ventilation towers and chimneys of the factory.

From the riverside entrance the building is accessed via the ground floor, as the construction is set into the river bank, creating a double height ceiling above the restaurant and shop with balconies overlooking the river.

The roof is made from industrial glass, and allows a complete view through the building height to the ground floor.


  • Begun: Jan 1997
  • Completed: Mar 1998
  • Floor area: 6,057m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £7.2M
  • Funding: National Lottery, ERDF, Arts Council
  • Address: Liberty Way, Sunderland, SR6 0GL, United Kingdom

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