Beacon of Light

The first of its kind in the UK, Beacon of Light is a unique sport and education centre for the Foundation of Light, designed to engage and inspire a diverse range of people—including traditionally ‘hard to reach’ individuals within the local community.

Located next to Stadium of Light, the home of Sunderland AFC, Beacon of Light provides a vibrant and feel-good environment where people can meet socially; where they can learn and take part in courses to gain skills and qualifications; and where their fascination and love of football will start them on a journey to improve their quality of life. Through its work at Beacon of Light it is predicted that the Foundation will generate up to £73m worth of social return-on-investment over a period of twenty years.

Inspirational sport and education centre

Sunderland, England



Foundation of Light

Oct 2016 - May 2018

May 2018

The materials are familiar, construction and detailing is straightforward. Yet the architecture of the building feels celebrated throughout; both in the stacked interior volumes and its enveloping façades, cool by day, alive at night.

Judging Panel
RIBA North East Awards 2019

Stacking of Facilities

The efficient building form stacks a roof-top ‘Football Barn’, created under a lightweight structure, on top of shared community and education facilities and a controlled, insulated ‘box’, housing the sports hall. The arrangement maximises the external space for revenue generating 5-a-side pitches, and creates height, emphasising the building as a regional beacon, especially in the immediate context of a stadium.

Beacon Of Light Sports And Lesiure Sunderland Diagram Drawing Section Custom

The triple-height ‘street’, running through the building, facilitates visibility - engaging the interest of the community and passers-by from the outside and from within, across the multiple spaces, to encourage ‘cross-participation’. A feature staircase, rising through all floors encourages people to use it as their main point of circulation, increasing physical activity. This procession up the building is also a physical representation of the power of sport to enrich and uplift.

Inspiration for All

My son does little dribblers and it was the first session held at the beacon today. Wow! The facilities are amazing. Really well designed, light, spacious and the pitches on the top floor are brill!

Claire Fraser

It’s an outstanding facility, it really is. It’s a brilliant place for people to come and work, play, be educated and be inspired.

George Clarke
Architect, Foundation Trustee


  • Civic Trust Awards 2020
    Special Award for Community Impact and Engagement
  • Civic Trust Awards 2020
    Civic Trust Award
  • RIBAJ MacEwen Award 2020
  • RICS Awards 2019
    Community Benefit Award
  • RICS North East Awards 2019
    Project of the Year
  • RICS North East Awards 2019
    Regional Award
  • RICS North East Awards 2019
    Community Benefit Award
  • RIBA North East Awards 2019
    Regional Award
  • CIAT Awards 2019
    Technical Excellence in Architectural Technology
  • LABC Northern Region Building Excellence Awards 2019
    Best Educational Building
  • IStructE Northern Counties Regional Awards 2018
    Best Large Project