James Connolly visitor centre named Northern Ireland’s Building of the Year 2022
The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) has awarded the Liam McCormick Prize for Northern Ireland’s Building of the Year to Áras Uí Chonghaile, the new James Connolly visitor centre on the Falls Road in Belfast.
The centre, designed for Fáilte Feirste Thiar (Visit West Belfast) by McGurk Architects, joins a list of the finest buildings in Northern Ireland to have won the prize which includes the Lyric Theatre and Giant’s Causeway visitor centre. The project was also awarded the RSUA Integration of Art Award for the portrait of James Connolly on the perforated-metal gable wall, central to the creation of this was Fergal Rainey who was named Project Architect of the Year.
Ciarán Fox, Director of RSUA, said: “This year’s overall winner is a brilliant example of building re-use. To help tackle our climate emergency we need to focus in on how our existing buildings can be re-purposed, not just those of great historic value. Demolishing and starting from scratch should be a last resort. This year’s entries were required to have been in use for at least one year so that the judging panel could better evaluate the sustainability and real-life performance of these projects.”
RSUA President Donal Mac Randal, Harry Connolly from Fáilte Feirste Thiar and Colm McGurk of McGurk Architects
The construction of Áras Uí Chonghaile entailed the adaptation and extension of a Victorian twin end-terrace building, transforming the structure into a museum with learning and exhibition spaces as well as a café, library and office with conference facilities. The judging panel described the building as a “crafted and characterful addition to the local community…and a fine demonstration of what can be achieved through re-use.”
Speaking about the win, Colm McGurk, Director of McGurk Architects based in Magherafelt said: “We are delighted that our work on this very special project has been recognised by the Royal Society of Ulster Architects. It was a privilege to work so closely with our client to create a new landmark building for West Belfast, one which will attract visitors to the area for many years to come.”
Not only did an architects practice based in County Londonderry claim the top prize but the four other RSUA Design Award-winning projects were all based in Derry…
RSUA Design Award | Special Awards: Sustainability Award, Living Places Award and Conservation Award
North West Multi Modal Transport Hub
Derry | Consarc Design Group
Consarc Design Group won for its work on the North-West Multi Modal Transport Hub. The project involved the restoration and rejuvenation of the old Waterside Train station on behalf of Translink with the judges saying that the architects had “brought life back to a forgotten piece of Derry’s built heritage.” The project also won the Conservation, Sustainability and Living Places Awards.
The Sustainability Award was sponsored by the Strategic Investment Board.
RSUA Design Award | Special Awards: Client of the Year and House of the Year
Bellaghy, County Londonderry | McGonigle McGrath
Located in Bellaghy, House Ballyscullion, designed by McGonigle McGrath has been named Northern Ireland’s House of the Year. Owners, the Graham family, who painstakingly managed the self-build process over a five-year period, also picked up Client of the Year. The judging panel described the project as “a beautiful testament to a client’s commitment and an architect’s skill.”
RSUA Design Award | Special Awards: Small project of the year
House in the Glebe
Eglinton, County Derry | Marshall McCann Architects
Cited as “a model for rural dwellings” by the judges, House in the Glebe near Eglinton was praised for its energy efficiency and the sympathetic way it blends in with the local surroundings. This project was designed by Ballymena-based architects Marshall McCann and collected an additional award for Small Project of the Year.
RSUA Design Award
Altnagelvin Acute Hospital, North Wing Development
Derry | HLM Architects and Hall Black Douglas
The new North Wing of the Altnagelvin Acute Hospital was designed by HLM Architects and Hall Black Douglas. The judges commented: “The new wing has achieved its goal of being the unambiguous centre piece of this collection of buildings with its distinct civic quality. It is an uplifting place for staff to work and it delivers an environment rich in healing potential.”
Mr Fox continued, “Our winners and shortlisted projects demonstrate that when clients make an investment in good design the benefits are both tangible and long-lasting. Architects can help deliver buildings which are both functional and beautiful and which enrich the lives of those who use them.”
“After two years it is wonderful to once again be able to gather and recognise excellence in the design of Northern Ireland’s built environment. We would like to offer our sincere thanks to our sponsors, without whom in this annual awards scheme would not be able to operate.”
The RSUA Design Awards 2022 were supported by