Civic Heart - Chester le Street, County Durham 2007

Civic Heart

Chester le Street, County Durham 2007

A new market place. The red brick arch echoes the form of the large viaduct located at the end of the market place. 480 Integrated LED lights on the arch form a comb of light which slowly changes colour. The floorscape is made from 5000 hand made bricks fired at different temperatures to make a pattern of the local emblem – St Cuthbert's Cross. This red brick carpet is defined by a perimeter of dark granite seats, referencing a coal seam for this coal mining area. Site specific poems are etched on to the exterior and interior surface.

Nominated for 'Most Innovative use of Brick' Award, 'Best Regeneration' Award, 'Best Landscaping Project' Award.


A new arch and market place were required which established a place of destination and also a flexible space. The project needed to be dovetailed with the regeneration programme. I wanted to create a sense of ‘red carpet’ about the space – a special place to be. The arch form is inspired by the arches of the vast viaduct at the end of the market place – echoing the negative shapes of the arches. I made the bricks to have a surface like a fly’s compound eye so that the compound curve of the arch always has a sensual surface whatever the ambient light. 480 polycarbonate tubes form a crest on the arch. Each one changes colour slowly throughout the evening.

Colour changing floor lights are sited where the culvert is located. The lights slowly pulse blue through the market square connecting the present with the past. Two site specific poems by John Fairfax are etched into a seam of dark granite seats, referencing Chester le Street’s coal mining past.

Spotlights are sited under the arch to encourage a sense of place and a location for events – for bands.

Floor scape designed to quietly reference the local St Cuthbert’s Cross. Small lights in the form of coal cutting equipment inserted in the granite seats and are referenced within the site specific poem.


10,000 hand made bricks fired at different temperatures to form the pattern of St Cuthbert’s cross.

480 polycarbonate tubes and rgb programmable LEDS form the colour changing crest

14 tons of charcoal grey granite

5,000 hand made floor bricks fired at slightly different temperatures to form different tones