The headquarters landscape of online company Tombola is outstanding because of its client ambition for the welfare of its employees, the value that they place on the external environment as a resource for staff and their commitment to high quality landscape architecture on a previously derelict site.

Design responds to a stunning setting with rich historic context on the banks of the River Wear in Sunderland, with panoramic views of the city, Grade II listed Rose Line Building, remains of the old dock walls and working riverside with regular shipping movements.

The wider riverside context of the site has seen considerable regeneration in recent years including the reconstruction of the quay wall and new riverside promenade, and it was crucial to the success of our scheme that links were made to this route to promote links from the site to the City.


Tombola own the site and adjacent buildings, so an inside-outside campus design approach was taken to set the precedent for future phases of work that unite all of the areas of client ownership.

The concept of the modern working environment inspired by the site’s riverside location and history informed a series of activated spaces to enhance pedestrian connections to the City Centre and riverside, but also provide social opportunities for staff ranging from small-scale contemplative break out spaces to flexible larger areas that could be used for programmed events.

The campus masterplan can be broken down into a series of spaces :

– The ‘Arrival’ which marks entry into the site from the City Centre for both pedestrians and vehicles and includes a key circulatory link between the new headquarters building and the retained Rose Line Building. A small visitor parking area has been given a low key design to reduce the visual prominence of the parking layout and allow its use as a paved, flexible space for events

– The ‘Campus Lawn’ provides a welcome green cooling space in the heart of the site, providing a focus for the new and existing buildings and further opportunity for flexible uses/ events

– A café/ break out terrace is located to provide a direct external adjacency to facilities within the new building, with seating for lunch/ breaks which benefits from views across the campus lawn and over the River to local landmarks

– The ‘Wear View’ is primarily a circulation route along the building where users can take time to be in more direct contact with the riverside. Located at an elevated position to the recent riverside promenade it allows views over this route to the river and wider context

– A social terrace provides further group seating and activity opportunities with tables providing the opportunity to take work/ meetings in the external environment

A material palette was developed in consideration of the architecture of the new headquarters building, rooting it within its historic riverside context and local landscape character.

High quality natural stone products and clay bricks were selected to reference the materiality of the wider conservation area within which the site sits as well as the industrial heritage of the riverside. Varied unit sizes and textures provide visual interest and subtly delineate routes and spaces within the campus.

Plant species selection was inspired by oak woodland, in particular the field layer that exists along the Wear Valley upstream from the campus. This was ornamented within the heart of the campus to create spaces with local distinctiveness, rooted in the City’s ecological heritage. Planting design was driven by the provision of both seasonal interest and a robust evergreen structure, ensuring a year-round attractive business aesthetic. Plant combinations were used to enhance individual areas within the campus masterplan

The campus opened in late 2018 and has created a new landmark on the banks of the River Wear that both celebrates its industrial heritage and the contemporary success of this local employer.

Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Ryder Architecture, shed, Desco
Project location: tombola house, Low St, Sunderland SR1 2JR, United Kingdom
Design year: Appointed in 2015
Year Built: Completed on site in 2018


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