The Design Concept

The concept, developed by FaulknerBrowns Architects, takes a simple circular form and inserts two Lens Platforms to provide superb views of the River Tyne. The architectural idea for the façade is likened to fanning out the pages in a book with the entrance overlooking the Market Place being book-ended by two vertical spine walls. The concept allows the benefit of fantastic views both into and out from the building at key locations.

Each floor wraps around the perimeter of the façade with a 15 metre diameter atrium located in the centre with triple height voids cutting through at the entrance and the Lens Platforms.


The external appearance of The Word has been strongly influenced by the industrial heritage of South Shields with salt panning, coal mining, glass making and ship building all informing the material choices.

  • Coal– The base plinth upon which the building appears to sit is clad with a dark grey, textured concrete panel that gives the impression of coal.
  • Salt – A circular halo of white concrete wraps around the building.
  • Glass – There are large areas of glass celebrated at the entrance and the Lens providing views into and out from the building.
  • Stone – Levels one and two of the building step out from the coal plinth below creating a pronounced circular drum. This is clad with vertical spanning baguettes, the spacing of which resembles pages fanning out in a book.
  • Metal – Full height windows are framed with anodised steel/aluminium relating to both the previous shipbuilding industry and the existing shipping trade.