Tiny heart-rending Ballyclare House wows judges to claim special award

The extension to a house on the Ballylagan Road won a special award at the RICS Awards Grand Final in London, alongside category winners including major university projects, multi-million pound infrastructure investments, and town centre regeneration schemes.

Judges were unanimous in wanting to recognise the project. They said that those behind it had battled “against stultifying bureaucracy” and “overzealous officialdom” to “succeed in providing a very special, safe, comforting environment and home to two young sisters whose previous existence from birth was a catalogue of abuse, deprivation and cruel neglect”.

They said that “the determination, self-sacrifice and single mindedness of the entrants convinced the judges of the need for special recognition”.

Owned by Stephen and Sarah Villiers, the house was a winner in the Northern Ireland section of the RICS Awards before going forward to today’s Grand Final. The architect was Alan Patterson Design LLP, and the developer was Heritage Developments (NI) Ltd.

RICS judging chairman, Alistair Dunn, says: “The extension to the Ballylagan Road house contains a bedroom each for two little girls who are sisters, designed individually and based on the principles of therapeutic parenting to provide a space for sleep, play, sanctuary, growth and healing. There was real innovation evident in the approach, ‘listening to the needs of the parents and children’ whilst executing the room fit-out to the highest standard for the most exacting and deserving of clients.”

“Ballylagan is, at first sight, an unremarkable family home. But the partners, both architects, worked with their two very young foster children to design their bedrooms. The rooms are extraordinary; they provide sanctuary through innovative solutions to profound emotional challenges. The design process and the ongoing experience is now the subject of keen interest from childcare specialists and psychologists,” he adds.

The RICS Awards Grand Final, held at the Dorchester Hotel in London, celebrated the most inspirational initiatives and developments in land, property, construction and the environment.

RICS President, Martin Bruhl FRICS, commented: “The RICS Awards provides a real showcase of the skills and expertise of those professionals working across all sectors of the built environment. Once again, the standard set by the shortlisted projects was extremely high; each one representing a shining example of how property professionals with a passion for inspirational schemes, both large and small, can transform the lives of not only individuals, but whole communities and the environment at large.”