Hebburn’s industrial past will meet its state-of-the-art future as construction continues on the town’s new community hub this week.
Work is now beginning on the outside of the £12.8m building, which will be clad in special weathering steel panels.
The material, famously used on the Angel of the North, will gradually change colour over the coming weeks and months.
The steel sheeting, called Cor-Ten, was chosen by architects FaulknerBrowns to reflect the area’s industrial heritage.
It has a natural oxide layer which gives it its weathered, rusty tone. Its colour will change from a bluish-grey through to bright orange and then deep reddish brown.
Coun Eddie McAtominey, chairman of Hebburn Regeneration Board, said: “Hebburn Community Hub is going to be a modern, world-class facility, but the steel cladding is a nod to the area’s rich industrial heritage.
“It’s a clever way of celebrating Hebburn’s past, and incorporating it into the regeneration of the town centre which will showcase the very best in contemporary architecture.”
More than 50 tonnes of the low maintenance steel will be used on the hub which is being developed by South Tyneside Council and constructed by Willmott Dixon as a key part of the town centre’s renewal.
The two-storey building will include a six-lane swimming pool, a learner pool, fitness suite, sports hall, dance studio, soft play area, library, learning centre and café, as well as meeting rooms and a customer service centre.
Lee McLaughlin, project director at FaulknerBrowns architects, said: “When any building is conceived, there is always debate on which external material to use.
“With history pointing to Palmer Brothers & Co, Hebburn Shipbuilding Dock and Reyrolles, there was great enthusiasm to embrace metal in a contemporary manner, whilst referencing much of the skill and craft pioneered in the area in the past.”
Cor-Ten has also been used on the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, and the Maggie’s Centre at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.
It is widely used in the marine, structural and architectural industries.