A new civic square is now taking shape in Sunderland city centre.
The public space has been designed by the council’s in-house landscape architecture team, and is part of a wider scheme to realign a major access road and create a new gateway into the city centre.
Sunderland City Council’s principal landscape architect Kevin Johnson led the in-house design team on the design of the £3m new square, which will include high-quality paving surfaces, bespoke street furniture and artwork, plus an attractive water feature. It will also feature artwork designed to celebrate the city’s industrial and shipbuilding heritage, including two sculptures by Stephen Broadbent.
Space for the new square has been created through the realignment of a major road into the city centre, with the area that remains becoming a shared open space for people to meet and for public events and gatherings.
‘In creating the new city centre public space we saw the chance to celebrate Sunderland's character,’ says Councillor Paul Watson, leader of the council. The use of materials such as granite, sandstone and bronze will, he says, ‘reflect Sunderland’s industrial prowess’.
Special attention has been given to the construction of adequate tree pits to sustain healthy mature tree growth in the square and boulevard, Watson adds, and the 3.5m-high high interactive sculpture 'Propellers of the City' will include the photographs of up to 500 Sunderland people who worked in the shipyards.
Broadbent’s second artwork, ‘The Keel Line’ will lead from the first, across the new public square, continuing over the old Vaux brewery site towards the River Wear. At 291.7m-long, the line represents the length of the Naess Crusader, the longest ship ever built in Sunderland, which was launched in 1972.
The line will incorporate the names of up to 9,000 of the most significant ships built in Sunderland's shipyards dating back to the early 19th century.
The new £3m square is part of a wider scheme to realign St Mary’s Way and to create a new gateway into Sunderland city centre. Work on the road realignment began on site in May 2013 and will continue until spring 2014, with the creation of the new square and ‘Keel Line’ following on from this. The entire scheme will be completed by the end of 2014.
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