The 19th century period surely did bring a whole lot of new changes in the world. Say it in the realm of art, culture, society, or innovation; the world has seen advancement in all these realms. Among these, architecture witnessed a drastic and a great evolving stage. Gradually, coming out of the renaissance, the imperial Mughal architecture, the world stepped into the modern architecture era, where designs are just as what one can imagine. This Modern architecture lets the designers, and the innovators, widen their thinking horizons. There are several such structures around us, reflecting the true meaning of what architecture represents in the present age. Among these is a similar structure, Sage Gateshead, by a prominent architect and designer, Norman Foster.

His design philosophy of flexibility surely does make his work outshine and stand out. Foster’s principles for design also aim towards imparting adaptability, which is much needed with the tremendously growing buildscape all across the world. The Gateshead is one of the finest examples of Foster’s works, reflecting these design ideologies.

Sage Gateshead by Foster and Partners: Concert venue in Gateshead - Sheet1
Norman Foster, designer of Sage Gateshead_©
Sage Gateshead by Foster and Partners: Concert venue in Gateshead - Sheet2
Sage Gateshead-Design concept by Norman Foster_©

Sage Gateshead is a building located on the Southbank of River Tyne and poses as an educational and social space. The building encompasses two fully functional performance spaces and a music education college for students. This whole building complex is the living-standing apple of hi-tech architecture gradually sprawling in the built industry. 

Sage Gateshead by Foster and Partners: Concert venue in Gateshead - Sheet3
Sage Gateshead alongside river Tyne_©

Form and Planning | Sage Gateshead

Norman Foster saw this design as a chance to bridge the gap of music as witnessed in the North-East. Thus, Foster decided to design a building with an organic shape. A shape that is complemented with its built environment. Gateshead is near to another marvel from modern architecture, the Great arch. Thus, these two structures, when viewed in a single frame, pose as a beautiful composition along the Gateshed’s river frontage. 

Sage Gateshead by Foster and Partners: Concert venue in Gateshead - Sheet4
The Sage Gateshead near to the Grand arch alongside Tyne riverfront_©

The whole building follows a blob form as inspired by blobitecture, a postmodern architecture style blobitecture. As the name suggests, blobitecture consists of structures with organic forms and shapes built according to the material available at the place. This style can be seen revived in Gateshead with a free-flowing organic form. Encompassed within this blob covering, this structure has two performance areas, a music school, and a huge meeting plaza. 

Sage Gateshead by Foster and Partners: Concert venue in Gateshead - Sheet5
Sage Gateshead-Concert space in the building_©
Sage Gateshead by Foster and Partners: Concert venue in Gateshead - Sheet6
Sage Gateshead-Auditorium in the Building_©

Three halls are divided respectively into, A concert hall, A performance hall, and a rehearsal hall adjoining the music school. The spaces are provided according to the sole purpose the design serves, to bridge the gap of music for the people of the North-East. These places are further canopied under the organic blob shape as seen from the exterior. This canopy further creates several galleries and open spaces within the structure called an esplanade. These spaces are used as interactive spaces for the students during the day and as a place for public relaxation during the evening. This has provided a peaceful learning atmosphere along with a socially active public space. 

Sage Gateshead by Foster and Partners: Concert venue in Gateshead - Sheet7
Sage Gateshead-Esplanade (Galleries within the structure)_©


The main structure of this building, which makes it stand out, is its organic shaped roof. To achieve this, the structure had to attain stability to bear the load. To overcome this problem, the skeleton of the outer covering shell is made up of four steel arches spanning 80m from North to South. These arches provide stability and shape the exterior of the structure.

Sage Gateshead by Foster and Partners: Concert venue in Gateshead - Sheet8
The structure of Sage Gateway_©

According to the design idea for the building, the structure had to achieve a blob shape. To attain this, the grid shell is covered with stainless steel and glass cladding panels. These panels help the whole structure to achieve the form as envisioned by Norman Foster, making the building look aesthetically pleasing. 

Materials and Sustainability in Design 

The performance spaces are built with R.C.C. with a specially designed ‘Spongy’ concrete mix which is used to enhance the air capacity of the walls to increase sound insulation for the walls as is required for the auditorium and other such performance spaces. This technique being much more eco-friendly than the usage of artificial sound insulators, has also added a sustainability factor to the design of the structure. 

Outer covering in blob shape weighs around 750 tons and is composed of 3,000 stainless steel panels and trapezoidal glass panels, which also helps in maintaining the aesthetic look of the building. The panels used in the design are solid and designed to prevent noise from falling rain, which might cause hindrance for the students in the school or to the commoners in the plaza. 

Application of Glass Panels on the structure_©

Glass can also be seen alongside the esplanade walkways with coloured balustrades and having around 101 glass panels. The use of glass has been a great help for light inside this building complex, which otherwise would have been a pretty heavy load on the electric grid. Alongside this, the planning has been done considerably to the site conditions like the wind direction, the sun movement, which has helped the building in reducing around 40% energy consumption. The heating and cooling are also being maintained thermally inside the building, which adds to the sustainability factor in the building. 

Conclusion | Sage Gateshead

The Sage Gateshead poses as one of the best examples of modern architecture, which is gradually sprawling all around the world. With an interesting form and a fully functional built space, Sage Gateshead forms the heart of a project that aims towards showing how impactful art and architecture can be in the present world. The high tech construction, as seen together with the architecture, leaves a long-lasting impact on the viewers as well as the users.   

View of the Sage from the Newcastle side of the River Tyne_©



Sameeksha, currently pursuing her architecture degree, is also inclined towards writing and pouring out her thoughts. Being an writing enthusiast as well as an architecture student, she constantly tries to grab every opportunity for writing and express her views for the built environment.