The Word


Location: South Shields

Client: Bowmer & Kirkland

Value: £2.0 million

Duration: 26 weeks


‘The Word’, a new Library and Digital Media Centre at the heart of the South Shields town centre redevelopment. An outstanding illustration of concrete incorporating a feature soffit with patterned cut ply, recessed bands and a central atrium with cast coffers.

The four-storey building will form the first part and focal point of the £100m South Shields development plan to transform the town centre over the coming years for both residents and tourists. As well as a library the new building will also feature an IT suite, exhibition space, a café rooftop restaurant and terrace. It is also planned to have a “pier” walkway and viewing gallery on the first floor that will allow people to look out across the Tyne.

The new four-storey building incorporates a reinforced concrete flat slab solution with exposed soffits around a central atrium area. The structure stands proud with a type 2 high quality exposed concrete finish, beautifully presenting the in-situ concrete frame, columns and soffits spread over four floors.

The cylindrical columns running throughout the build were constructed using with single use spiral cardboard tubes. The tubes are a delicate method but produce an immaculate face to the columns. They are internally lined with a smooth face plastic release sheet, a special pour method is adopted to achieve the best result with each column.

The Word has been shortlisted for the Concrete Awards 2016.


  • High quality exposed in-situ concrete frame over 4 floors with exposed columns and soffits incorporating recessed feature bands and coffers cast within them.
  • The building envelope comprises of vertical terracotta rain screen baguette system and architectural pre cast concrete panels surround the ground floor.
  • Underfloor heating and cooling pipework is cast through the concrete slabs to all floors which will control the open plan heating system.