Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

The winning team will refurbish and upgrade the landmark 1879 complex in Mowbray Park which hosts around 108,000 objects in its collections and was last overhauled in 2001 when the current Winter Gardens was created to replace an original which was damaged during the Second World War.

The project, planned to complete in 2027, will improve visitor facilities, exhibition spaces and navigation throughout the building. Plans have already been drawn up to RIBA Stage 2 for the project. Sunderland City Council received £299,425 from The National Heritage Lottery Fund to further develop plans for the project at the start of this year.

Commenting at the time, Linda Williams, councillor and cabinet member for vibrant city, said: ‘We want to make sure that the whole museum is a modern, accessible, bright and innovative space that shows off our rich and vibrant stories to everyone near and far.

‘A major part of this will involve updating the story of Sunderland – our stories – to make sure they better reflect our communities, who we are, and where we come from.

‘We want to improve the Winter Gardens as a place to both learn and relax, using the natural surroundings to inspire and reconnect. And I’m really excited about the plans to create a stronger connection between the museum and Mowbray Park, opening up a whole new way for residents and visitors to experience both spaces.’

Designed by the Tillman Brothers in 1879 – the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens was one of the UK’s first purpose-built civic complexes. Featuring a large collection of Sunderland Lustreware pottery, the remains of a walrus and the first Nissan car made in Sunderland – the museum receives around 350,000 visitors each year.

Bids to deliver the upgrade contract will be evaluated 50 per cent on quality, 10 per cent on social value and 40 per cent on cost. Applicants must hold employer’s liability insurance of £10 million, public liability insurance of £10 million and professional indemnity insurance of £5 million.

Competition details

Project title Architectural Design Team – Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens Re-development
Client Sunderland City Council
Contract value £8 million
First round deadline Midday, 16 October 2023
Restrictions Applicants must provide three relevant examples of similar projects completed within the past three years.
More information