A symbolic new landmark that will stand at the tip of Sunderland’s Keel Line has been unveiled to the public at a consultation event today.
The Launch – a giant metal structure that will project over the cliff-edge of the Vaux site and span down onto land by the riverside – will create an instantly recognisable landmark that will also become a focal point for activities and events. The new construction, which is being proposed by Siglion, went on display at a public event in Keel Square, currently the focal point of the city’s Christmas programme.
The Launch, which will create a promontory that will overhang the cliff-edge and act as a viewing platform out over the river, has been developed by Siglion, working with designers and architects in an innovative way, on behalf of Sunderland City Council. It is part of a broader programme, that will see the Vaux site – which has stood empty for two decades – brought spectacularly back to life, with work on the first phase also getting underway this week.
Initial ideas for The Launch were developed in the summer, when Siglion co-ordinated a design competition that brought together engineer-led design teams – a collaboration between artists and engineers. More than 50 artists and art-practitioners were invited to take part, with the winning design – a tribute to shipbuilding in Sunderland – selected in October.
The structure will stand 25 meters tall – five floors high – and 21 meters wide, and will be made from a fabricated steel plate box girder and forged steel. It will allow the public to make their way from the Vaux site down to the South Bank of the river, attracting more footfall to an area that is currently underutilised.
The Launch has been designed to echo the construction of a ship, with the shape and scaffolding effect a tribute to the city’s industrial past. It also features a giant pendulum, with two counterbalancing tanks each holding a tonne of water, that will trigger a swinging movement, designed to mirror the motion of the scores of champagne bottles that would have traditionally been broken against the bow of each new ship built in the city, christening them for good luck and safe travels
If planning permission is given, work on The Launch will be completed by 2018.