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Ulster University’s new £364m campus wins top architecture award



The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) has awarded the Liam McCormick prize for Northern Ireland’s Building of the Year to the new Ulster University Belfast Campus.

The 14-storey campus was designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, with McAdam Design, Scott Tallon Walker and White Ink Architects. The project also received the Living Places Award, which honours developments that excel in placemaking.

The judges said how “the complex, expansive brief has been accommodated on a challenging, irregular site through the architects’ intelligence and skill” and how the project is “socially, economically, and culturally important both to Belfast itself and to the very idea of ‘city’”.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s House of the Year accolade was won by House on Redbrae Farm, by McGonigle McGrath architects, with Alice Nickell named Project Architect of the Year for her work on this rural Co Down project. McGonigle McGrath also scooped a second design award for Longhurst, a private house in south Belfast.

Hall Black Douglas Architects won two awards for conservation projects. The first was the refurbishment of the long-abandoned St Comgall’s School in west Belfast into a multi-use community hub.

This also earned the Falls Community Council an award for Client of the Year. The practice’s second winner was a £100m project they delivered in partnership with JCA Architects, that saw Primark’s Bank Buildings resurrected from the ashes following a devastating fire in 2018. This project picked up the Conservation Award.

Architect Patrick Bradley secured both the Sustainability Award and the Small Project Award with his shipping container home, Barney’s Ruins, which he built floating above the ruins of his family’s 200-year-old farmstead near Maghera.

“Belfast, as with many city centres, is facing multiple challenges with depopulation, working from home, online shopping and limited public investment,” Ciarán Fox, RSUA director, said.

“It is bold projects like the new Ulster University campus and the rebuilding of Bank Buildings by Primark that help bring life and energy to the city centre. One, an exceptional example of the conservation of our built heritage, and the other an embodiment of the city’s future aspirations.

“The quality of the architecture in a city has a direct bearing on its success. I hope these two projects can act as an encouragement to our political, business and civic leaders to work even harder to create the conditions that allow architecture to flourish in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.

“On the housing front, hats off to McGonigle McGrath who have completed a hattrick, winning Northern Ireland’s House of Year for the third year running. Every year we change our judging panel of experts from across Britain and Ireland but time after time each new panel reaches the same conclusion – that McGonigle McGrath’s work is outstanding.”

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