Keel Square shortly after completion
|Town or city||Sunderland, Tyne and Wear|
|Construction started||June 2014|
|Owner||Sunderland City Council|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Kevin Johnson, Stephen Broadbent|
Keel Square is a public space and boulevard based in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, completed in 2015. Located to the North of the City Centre opposite the Vaux Site, the square was constructed as part of the larger St. Mary's Way redevelopment. The total cost of the project amounts to £11.8 million. A celebration of Sunderland's maritime and industrial heritage, the square's name was decided by the city's residents.
Keel Square was designed by Sunderland City Council’s in-house multi-disciplinary team led by Principal Landscape Architect Kevin Johnson. The central purpose of the square is to celebrate Sunderland's Maritime and Industrial Heritage. Thus to build upon such, the square was constructed predominantly out of sandstone, granite and bronze.
Additionally, the square was constructed to supplement the neighbouring Vaux Site in order to create a more attractive business environment in the city As Sunderland Council Leader Paul Watson Quoted:
In creating the new city centre public space we saw the opportunity to celebrate Sunderland’s shipbuilding and industrial heritage— Paul Watson, Sunderland Echo, October 15, 2013
The square hosts a unique public art feature to embed the industrial past, known as “The Keel Line”. The start of the line is marked by the sculpture “Propellers of the City” designed by Stephen Broadbent, containing names of those who worked in the Wear shipyards. “The Keel Line” structure represents the length of the “Naess Crusader” the largest ship ever launched on the Wear. It is further aligned by a strip of paving listing over 8,100 ships launched on the Wear and incorporate a series of illustrations recording the history of Sunderland by renowned graphic artist Bryan Talbot.
Controversy and criticism
The new square has attracted considerable controversy and criticism, largely relating to the costs of the project. Conservative opposition councillors in Sunderland criticised the excess amount of money spent upon the project. Additionally, the council were further criticised over the project for spending £180,000 on imported trees from the Netherlands to place in the corresponding boulevard.
- "Remodelling of St Mary's Way". Sunderland City Council. October 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- "Images of Sunderland's new £11.8million square". Sunderland Echo. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- "Your Shout! Sunderland public asked to name city's new public square". Sunderland Echo. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- "New civic square celebrates Sunderland heritage". Landscape Institute. 15 January 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- "New public square for Sunderland". ITV. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- "New square to celebrate city's shipbuilding heritage". Sunderland City Council. 15 January 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- "Conservative party fear £11.8m square 'will split city'". Sunderland Echo. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- "Boulevard bust-up after Sunderland City Council spends £180,00 on imported trees from Holland". Sunderland Echo. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.