We're delighted to announce our Project of the Year, North East — The Word, South Shields — and the eight category winners of the 2017 RICS Awards, North East.

Over 50 of the North East’s most inspiring and community beneficial property schemes battled it out for top honours at the 2017 RICS Awards, North East. 'The One Show' TV presenter Angellica Bell was the host for this year’s sell-out ceremony, which attracted over 300 property professionals.

View the winners' brochure

Project of the Year: The Word, South Shields (sponsored by Ward Hadaway)

The Word, South Shields

The highly acclaimed Project of the Year title is presented to the scheme which demonstrates overall outstanding best practice and an exemplary commitment to adding value to its local area. The new national centre for the written word — known as The Word — is a truly inspiring and interactive community-led centre with a 21st century library and exemplary facilities.

Designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects and delivered by Muse Developments and Rex Proctor & Partners, The Word has allowed South Tyneside Council to create a varied calendar of exhibitions, workshops and events with national appeal, encouraging new visitors to the town and boosting the local economy.

RICS judges said The Word is a real community gem with a vast range of facilities suitable that appeal to all ages, including a state-of-the-art media studio, complete with a green screen and video production facilities, along with a 'StoryWorld' room designed to bring stories to life through images projected on the walls to an accompanying soundtrack.

Winners & Highly commended from the eight categories:

Building Conservation (sponsored by Historic England): Walwick Hall Hotel, Hexham

Walwick Hall — ideally placed along Hadrian’s Wall — had fallen into very poor condition, suffering badly from a lack of maintenance over recent years. An 18-month upgrade project delivered by Doonan Architects Ltd and DP Builders, which brought the building back into viable and sustainable use, was praised by the RICS judges for creating an exemplary hotel with the elegance of an English country retreat, yet with an inviting contemporary twist.

  • Highly commended: Acklam Hall, Middlesbrough

Commercial Property: Feethams Leisure, Darlington (sponsored by Forbo Flooring Systems)

Anchored by a nine screen ‘Vue’ cinema, this multi-million pound leisure scheme delivered by Niven Architects along with Urban & Civic plc offers various popular eateries and a Premier Inn Hotel. RICS judges credited Feethams strong line-up of many nationally well-known tenants for enabling it to become a commercial success in a very difficult climate, boosting the local economy with the creation of new jobs and encouraging more visitors to the area.

  • Highly commended: Sunderland Hilton Garden Inn, Sunderland

Community Benefit: The Word, South Shields

In its first two months of opening alone, The Word attracted over 88,000 visitors and loaned almost 10,000 books, whilst library memberships increased by nearly 400% compared to the town’s previous library during the same time period. The Word has since become home to a wide range of community groups, including the Cuckoo Young Writers group, a local history group and a wide range of arts societies.

  • Highly commended: Palliative Care Unit, St Teresa's Hospice, Darlington

Design through Innovation: The Word, South Shields (sponsored by Sika Sarnafil Plus)

From its very beginning, The Word has embraced community consultation, which has influenced its location, external design — modelled on a book — and overall purpose. The result is an outstanding cultural venue and significantly valuable community asset that is used and embraced by people all ages.

  • Highly commended: Eastlands, Newcastle upon Tyne

Infrastructure: Dinwoodie Assessment & Simulation Hub (DASH), Northumberland 

Wansbeck General Hospital’s new state-of-the-art training facility, known as DASH, allows medical professionals to carry out their training utilising mannequins and the latest technologies on a real ward. RICS judges praised the project team: ADP Architecture, Robertson Construction and Turner & Townsend, for creating an unforgettable learning experience, which is one-of-its-kind to be operated within a live hospital in the UK.

Regeneration: Freeman’s Reach, Durham (sponsored by Northumbria University)

Freeman’s Reach provides a new base for Durham-based staff of National Savings and Investments (NS&I) and Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO). The development is the UK’s first city centre property to incorporate a hydro-power generator, which provides 75% of the development’s energy requirements from the River Wear, earning it top environmental accreditations. The team behind the scheme: CarillionARCADIS and FaulknerBrown Architects, have sensitively transformed a run-down vacant site, delivering new quality offices, whilst improving visitor amenities.

  • Highly commended: The Malings, Newcastle upon Tyne

Residential property: Staiths South Bank, Gateshead

This riverside development of 635 homes on former industrial land, set alongside the historic Dunston Staiths, encourages community values whilst being contemporary and distinctive in design. The masterplan was designed by architects IDPartnership alongside Hemingway Design and landscape architects Glen Kemp, for developer Taylor Wimpey.

  • Highly commended: The Malings, Newcastle upon Tyne

Tourism & Leisure: The Word, South Shields 

The Word has allowed South Tyneside Council to create a varied calendar of exhibitions, workshops and events with national appeal, encouraging new visitors to the town and boosting the local economy.

In its first two months, The Word has attracted over 88,000 visitors, many from outside of the region, whilst over 50,000 people visited the centre’s opening exhibition which celebrates the works of Sir Ridley Scott.

View the winners' brochure

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