Queen’s University and Carrickfergus Castle restoration work wins top architecture awards

Two historic restoration projects have been crowned the finest examples of architecture in Northern Ireland.

he improvement projects for Carrickfergus Castle and Queen’s University Lanyon have received design awards from the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA).

The awards promote excellence in the design of our built environment.

Twenty-seven projects were entered in the 2020/21 competition, nine of which were shortlisted. Carrickfergus Castle and the Lanyon Building emerged victorious.

Ciaran Fox, Director of RSUA, said: “This year’s awards celebrate conservation architecture and recognize the unique skills of architects in bringing new life to these buildings.

“By awarding these honors to restoration and conservation projects in existing buildings, we recognize the value of Northern Ireland’s ancient built environment, not only because of its heritage and cultural value, but because of the need for environmental and economic sustainability.

The Lanyon Building Conservation and Restoration Project was designed by Consarc for Queen’s University. The judges were “touched by the team’s forensic approach” to the difficult repairs and reconstruction of the original zinc alloy windows and masonry.

The project made the building suitable for its use in the 21st century while retaining all of its significance and inherent character.

Dawson Stelfox of Consarc Architects said: “We are delighted that this collective effort has been recognized by RSUA and RIBA and that the university has received such positive support for its investment in its heritage. The other winning project, the replacement of the roof of Carrickfergus Castle, was designed by Alastair Coey Architects in partnership with Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects for the Historic Environment division of the Department of Communities.

The judges said conservation architects, structural engineers, carpenters and key laborers responsible “should be applauded” for their work in this project to restore and protect the castle’s grand keep.

They said the work was done in a sustainable manner with low carbon incorporated and low maintenance, while incorporating historic details, traditional materials and a high level of traditional craftsmanship and skills.

Andrew Bryce of Alastair Coey Architects said: “We are delighted to see that the castle has now reopened to the public who can experience the space which has been brought to life by a historically appropriate oak open farmhouse design. “

The Carrickfergus Castle project received the RSUA Sustainability Award and the Department for Communities was named RSUA Client of the Year.

The Lanyon Building project won the RSUA Conservation Award.

Both projects will now be offered for consideration for a UK-wide RIBA award.

Mr Fox added: “In this climate emergency, we need to reconsider the value of all of our existing buildings, not just those of great historical value. Demolishing and rebuilding should be a last resort.

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