The Spanish City is a collection of seaside pleasure buildings and grounds built in 1910 on the Whitley Bay seafront. The original buildings were designed by Newcastle upon Tyne architects Cackett & Burns Dick, for Whitley Amusements Ltd.

Appointed architects, ADP, worked with North Tyneside Council and contractors Robertson Construction, to provide all architectural design services for the repair, renovation and regeneration for the project in Whitley Bay.

In its heyday Spanish City accommodated a theatre, shops, various leisure and amusement rooms, outdoor pleasure grounds with rides and amusements (now gone), and a large rotunda hall with dome. The dome was the central point of orientation, and acted as a grand foyer to the adjacent Empress Ballroom.

The complex was built primarily in reinforced “Hennebique” concrete, which was innovative for its time and was one of the reasons that the building was listed as Grade II in 1986. When the dome opened it was second only in size in the UK to St Paul’s Cathedral.

BIM helped the design team provide solutions that retained and complemented the historical features of Spanish City


The levels and form of the building were very complicated and difficult to understand so quite early in the process, ADP recommended to North Tyneside Council that the building should be 3D surveyed. Once agreed, a company was commissioned to undertake the surveying. The point cloud data was then turned into a Revit survey and formed the basis of the design information going forward as well as acting as an Archaeological Record of the building at that moment in time, prior to development works progressing.

The 3D model and survey allowed ideas to be tested quickly, such as the removal of the central first floor in the rotunda, and options for the first floor loggias, and the form and massing of the new extensions in 3D. It also enabled ADP to make relevant changes to suit the proposed operator and limited timeframe. They also found it an extremely useful tool when undertaking consultation with different stakeholders, enabling the viewing of the model, and providing 3D drawings, clearly demonstrating proposals and how spaces interconnect.

Navigate the 3D model of the Spanish City building using the interactive display above

(3D technology powered by Autodesk Forge)

The Revit model was then used to create the visuals that were used throughout the project, raising awareness of the project to the public and other stakeholders.

Having the scheme in Revit, and aspiring to BIM Level 2, meant that a collaborative, coordinated approach was taken with other members of the design and contracting team. The use of BIM provided early opportunity for coordination work to locate the vast array of systems and equipment that were needed to serve the building’s many functions. BIM helped the design team provide solutions that retained and complemented the historical features of Spanish City.  

Before: Dome above the Rotunda Hall


Mechanical and electrical plant rooms have been located at the periphery of the building, within the contemporary extensions, so to limit unnecessary adaptation to the historic footprint and fabric. At an early stage primary distribution routes and strategies were determined, which allowed for coordination of services around the building. Constrained by planning in regard to height for the extensions, ADP introduced mezzanine floors to maximise area within the footprint.

Structural design and development was also undertaken in 3D and enabled a better understanding of the floor levels throughout the building as well as reviewing tolerances to the existing structure. Early structural strategies were discussed and tested to provide coordination with the architectural design and mechanical strategies.

All of the above consultant models were uploaded fortnightly to BIM 360 Glue to provide a combined model for the contractor. Meetings were held regularly to review any clashes with coordination in the models and proposals were agreed to resolve.  

Exterior, before works commenced


About the #FutureBuildings exhibition

Create your own building of the future and try out technologies that are breaking the boundaries of what’s possible in construction. Our Future Buildings exhibition runs from 22nd June to 9th September as part of the Great Exhibition of the North. 

Find out more

Visit the ADP website
Visit the Spanish City website