Promote Excellence

The primary purpose of the RSUA Design Awards is to promote excellence in the design of our built environment with a view to making Northern Ireland a better place for everyone.

RSUA Design Awards 2021 winners announced

Two historic building restoration projects have been named as the finest examples of architecture in Northern Ireland this year.   

Projects to enhance the potential of Carrickfergus Castle and to ensure continued use of Queen’s University’s Lanyon Building were awarded Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) Design Awards for 2021.   

Ciarán Fox, RSUA director, said: “We warmly congratulate these conservation architects whose work often goes unseen, and who are instrumental in the success of these complex and intricate projects.”

Carrickfergus Castle Roof Replacement

The roof replacement of Carrickfergus Castle was designed by Alastair Coey Architects in partnership with Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects for the Department for Communities, Historic Environment Division.  

Judges said that the conservation architects, structural engineers, carpenters, and lead workers responsible ‘should be applauded’ for their work in this project to restore and protect the castle’s Great Keep. They mentioned that the work was completed in a sustainable way with low embodied carbon and little need for maintenance, while still incorporating historic detailing, traditional materials and a high level of craftsmanship and traditional skills. 

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The Lanyon Building Conservation and Restoration Project

The Lanyon Building Conservation and Restoration Project was designed by Consarc for Queen’s University, Belfast. The judges were ‘moved by the team’s forensic approach’ to the challenging repairs and reconstruction of the original zinc alloy windows and stonework. The project enhanced the building to make it fit for purpose in the 21st century whilst retaining all its significance and inherent character. 

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The Carrickfergus Castle project was awarded the RSUA Sustainability Award and the Department for Communities were named as RSUA Client of the Year. The Lanyon Building project won the RSUA Conservation award. Both projects will now be put forward for consideration for a RIBA UK-wide award.  

Ciarán Fox continued: “In this climate emergency we need to reconsider the value of all of our existing buildings, not just those of great historic value. Demolishing and building new should be a last resort.  The embodied carbon locked-in to buildings means we should be looking for ways to conserve, restore, enhance and creatively re-use. The architect’s role will be central to this and I expect to see many more awards for this type of work over the coming years.”

PEYE 190821KB1 0014 CARRICKFERGUS CASTLE ROOF REPLACEMENT-Alastair Coey Architects in partnership with Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects-Tony Corey-3 QUB THE LANYON BUILDING CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION PROJECT-Consarc Design Group-Damien Toner-4

Our Aims


The Awards have been running since 1998 and they are recognised as the leading architecture awards in Northern Ireland. The gala evening is the premier event in the calendar for everyone involved in the design of the built environment.


This is the fourth year of the alignment between the RSUA and RIBA awards. Our partnership with RIBA means that RSUA Awards will double up as the RIBA Northern Ireland Awards. Winning an RSUA Award is now the first step to being considered for a UK-wide RIBA Award.

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Award Categories

Projects entered for this year’s competition, regardless of project type or value, were considered for a headline RSUA Design Award 2021. Given the outbreak of Covid-19 the projects entered for the RSUA Design Awards 2020 were judged in 2021. 

Projects that win an RSUA Design Award are in the running to win the Liam McCormick Prize – Northern Ireland’s building of the year – and will be considered for a RIBA National Award. Judges may also give a range of discretionary awards.

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Previous Winners