I felt sure I’d written about The Sage before, but a quick search of old posts suggests that this curvaceous beauty has been restricted to supporting roles so the spotlight is long overdue.
I love visiting this building; as often as not there’s good reason for that as I’ve seen some fantastic performances there over the years, but the amazing building always plays her part. She’s 10 years old now yet still impresses me every time I see her, prompting J and I to speculate on how long it will be before she begins to tire in the same way that the Sidney Opera House has done. There’s no sign yet.
Foster and Partners were the lead architects responsible for her design, the multi award-winning architects who have produced a few favourites from these pages; the Millennium Bridge (Thames not Tyne), the Hydro in Glasgow, as well as some that have escaped my lens; Wembley Stadium, the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court at the British Museum, and the Gherkin (more properly 30 St Mary Axe).
There’s so much to love about The Sage beyond her great sweeping curves, and for me it comes down to the care taken over the details as much as the dramatic impact she has on the Gateshead skyline. Glass and steel architecture is nothing new (see my recent blog from Canary Wharf) but the reflective surfaces here face skyward and converse with the heavens. On grey days, she is clad in silver, but when skies are blue she too adopts an azure aspect. Throw in some clouds and she is patterned with rectangles of white. I’m sure she would look impressive with any sort of chromed finish, but her chameleon skin gives her additional charm.
The three great windows resemble the sails of the Tall Ships that have moored along this same stretch of water that she now oversees; another nice touch but there is still more. The multiple layers of white floors that comprise the interior may be reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim, but it doesn’t diminish their serenity. The wood panelling within the main hall is stunning, but look above you and the spaces between resemble piano keys. Perfect for the region’s premier concert hall.
There is something calm and welcoming about the main concourse, and I believe the quantity of light that floods the space and bounces from the white surfaces must contribute to this, but even the flooring helps. Shiny and black, and flecked with reflective flakes and chips it too sends photons skyward once again. Would we have complained if there were carpet beneath our feet? Probably not, but that attention to detail just adds to the effect.
I could go on singing her praises (though I might not be invited to do so from any of her stages) but I think you should visit and discover more of her secrets.