The Fire Station Auditorium

Picto has developed the wayfinding and signage for Sunderland’s newly redeveloped Fire Station Auditorium. The specialist music venue, developed by the Music, Arts and Culture Trust, is at the heart of Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Cultural Quarter. The restoration of this historic area reestablishes the Quarter as the Edwardian heart and soul of the city.

Working with:
Client: The Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust
Architect: Flanagan Lawrence
Contractor: Brims

The project timeline:
June 2021: invited by Brims to submit budget for signage
September 2021: appointed by Brims to undertake wayfinding strategy
November 2021: manufacture and installation
December 2021: venue opens


the fire station sunderland back of house graphics
foyer directional signage Fire Station Auditorium Sunderland
wayfinding with clear terminology and pictograms
directional sign at Fire Station Sunderland
toilet signage at Fire Station Sunderland
foyer bar, the Fire Station Sunderland

Picto worked in close collaboration with the project team to develop concise and easy-to-follow terminology for the Auditorium.

integrating the original building into the new wayfinding
inclusive tactile and Braille lift signage
back of house signage, The Fire Station, Sunderland
 the new cultural quarter, Sunderland
Steve installing back of house signage
assembling the suspended panels
signage prepped and ready for installation
on site during the final week of construction, The Fire Station Auditorium
Steve working on the back of house signage

What our client said:

“Working with Picto has been a tremendous partnership.  They have brought their huge experience and expertise to the project along with a practical, ‘can-do’ attitude.” 

Paul Callaghan, Chairman, Sunderland Music Arts and Culture Trust


A specialist music venue in the heart of the city

The opening of the Fire Station Auditorium in Sunderland sees the completion of phase two of the Fire Station development. 

A brand new contemporary extension to the original Edwardian Fire Station building, the Fire Station Auditorium was designed by architect Flanagan Lawrence, renowned for their work in performing arts spaces. 

The live music and performing arts venue, which is anticipated to host up to 300 events per year, can accommodate 550 seated visitors or up to 800 people standing in various layouts.

Reworking and expanding an existing scheme

The second phase of this project saw us working with a completely new project team. We scaled up phase one of our scheme of work on the Fire Station studios to develop the signage and wayfinding for the new contemporary extension.

We expanded the existing Fire Station wayfinding scheme to include the new Auditorium, two new links between the old and new venues, and the new lift in the original building, which serves the whole site.

An emphasis on accessibility

We needed to meet architect Flanagan Lawrence’s vision for the building with the client’s requirement for a fully-inclusive venue with wayfinding that would help 800 people find their way from place to place within the Auditorium. 

Working closely with the venue’s management team, we developed accessible wayfinding at the front and back of house that adhered to the existing Fire Station brand guidelines. 

The focus on accessibility means that performers and visitors alike can move between the different areas of the new venue, including the bar, auditorium, and toilets, with ease. 

The third and final project phase starts in 2022 with the opening of The Parade Ground, an outside performance space and bar. We have pre-planned the signage for this space as part of this second phase of work, so it can be added at speed and with ease when needed.