Newest Review: ... its position on the side of the river Tyne certainly makes it an eye catcher. The outside is made out of glass panels, with b... more
Gateshead's silver coated armadillo
The Sage (Gateshead)
Author Name: Praskipark
The Sage (Gateshead)
Advantages: Outstanding structure, good atmosphere, friendly staff, well designed Hall One
Disadvantages: Items in the gift shop are a bit expensive
During my time in England in June of this year I spent a few days in Gateshead and one of the attractions I visited was The Sage, a remarkable building situated on the waterfront next to the Gateshead Millenium Bridge. When The Sage was being built I was living in Cumbria at the time and was always intrigued by this building. Most people say that it reminds them of a giant shell, I always think it looks like an armadillo.
The day we chose to visit the building was a nasty one, rain was lashing down and the scene across the river was dull and miserable. I was fascinated with the structure of the exterior and loved the way the silver steel outer shell shone brighter as the rain slashed on the roof. On entering, the first thing I did was look up to the roof, the stainless steel panels of which there are 3,000 and the sparkling glass panels create a reinforced wrapping for the concourse and buildings beneath. It is an amazing design.
The entrance foyer, front of the house and ticket office is large and spacious. I liked the fact that there were many information stands displaying leaflets and brochures about events for the summer. Looking through the leaflets I recognised faces of actors and musicians and was amazed that some of these performers were still touring. Wilko Johnson of Dr Feelgood fame, springs to mind. I admired the artwork on the Americana leaflet and wished the event had been taking place during my stay.
As it was quite damp and cold outside I felt the need of a hot drink. My husband wasn't too bothered but he did fancy a sit down. I went to the cafe named after Sir Michael Straker and ordered a big mug of coffe with milk. The cafe was very busy but I was served promptly with a smile. I asked if I could take my drink away from the seating area as I wanted to sit near the windows on the concourse so I could look at the Millenium Bridge. The young man who served me said this was acceptable so off I went. There are some super views from the concourse and as usual I couldn't wait to sart snapping away. The photos didn't come out so well because of the dull, grey skies but it was great to look out at the Baltic Gallery and the Tyne Bridge.
There is a shopping area on the concourse selling books, musical instruments for children and adults, games, cards, posters, old fashioned sweets etc. This area is very jolly and colourful, I liked most of the things that were for sale and could have bought everything. I did think prices were a bit high though.
After I had finished my coffee I walked up the stairs to take a look at the different halls. Only Hall One was accessible so we had a quick look inside. What an amazing sight, all those wood panels. I bet the acoustics are brilliant. I would love to see Bruce Springsteen perform in this hall. Hall Two, the Northern Rock Foundation Hall and the Barbour Room were closed but I do believe there is a public tour of the halls which costs £4 and a private tour for £7.
Standing at the top of the building, looking down on to the concourse, made me feel a bit queasy although I loved the way the different levels formed a spiral, it was like being wrapped in a giant sized snail. It's great how the design of the building enables people to sit outside the halls on every level close to the giant windows so they can look out at the scenes of the waterfront. Lord Foster and his colleagues certainly had a good eye for architectural design.
Even though the rain was near to torrential I was determined to go outside at the back of the building to take pictures of the Baltic and Milennium Bridge. The wind was very strong and I struggled to keep upright. I can see now why so much steel was used in the construction of the building and why that spot was chosen. A more lightweight construction would probaly not endure the elements.
The next day when the weather was calmer we went to the Baltic and stood on the Millenium Bridge. The view of The Sage from this spot was stunning with the jade coloured Tyne Bridge in the background. The silver coated armadillo certainly highlights the waterfront and the regeneration of this area has been a success.
I enjoyed my visit to The Sage and went back again on our last morning in Gateshead. If ever I am in the town again I would love to attend a concert in Hall One. You can't miss this building - it is on the Gateshead waterfront between the Tyne and Gateshead Millennium Bridges.
Summary: A remarkable venue and somewhere to visit in torrential rain