The Word – National Centre for the Written Word

Photograph by Al Crow at Hufton and Crow

Name of the Library: The Word – National Centre for the Written Word
Parent Organisation: South Tyneside Council

Street Address: 45 Market Place
Postal Address: 45 Market Place, South Shields, UK, NE33 1JF
Telephone : 44 191 4271818
Web Address:
Library Email :
Type of Library : Central/ Main Library Special Library
Population served: 1,156300 (Tyne and Wear)
Project Type: New Building
Size (square metres): 4115sqm
Date of Completion: 22 October 2016
Architect: FaulknerBrowns Architects

Photograph Al Crow at Hufton and Crow


In a modern society where people enjoy access to information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week then what should a library for the 21st century look like and offer to the public?

This was the challenge put forward by South Tyneside Council in their briefing to us for The Word.

‘Make the internal activities inspiring. Why would I want to come back? Why would my daughter want to come back? Why would my mother want to come back?’ Given the relationship between the real and the virtual world in which we currently live these were incredibly interesting and relevant challenges.

Photograph by Al Crow at Hufton and Crow

We felt that a true paradigm shift in the building typology was possible. The design of The Word recognizes the crucial importance of people, books, traditional media and interactive technologies, and the dynamic relationship and complex interactions between them.

The human-centric design approach places the individual at the heart of the building and at the heart of the opportunity to inform, delight and interact.

The immersive nature, the diversity of choice combined with powerful architecture creates, we believe a significant and civilized building which points to the future and underlines the importance of the library within our modern society.

Awards, case studies, further information

  • Living North Award “Best Regeneration or Restoration Project”
  • Concrete Society National Finalist
  • Further information