Ulster University’s Belfast campus wins NI Building of the Year

Ulster University’s new Belfast campus has been awarded the Liam McCormick prize for Northern Ireland’s Building of the Year 2024 by the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA).

Liam McCormick Prize and Living Places Award: Ulster University Belfast Campus - Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, McAdam Design, Scott Tallon Walker and White Ink Architects. (photo credit: Donal McCann Photography)

It was among six projects recognised at the RSUA Design Awards 2024, held on May 9 in The MAC Belfast, with Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd as guest of honour.

The £364m campus, stacked 14 floors high in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, 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 noted 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’.

NI’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 multiuse
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 delivered in partnership with JCA Architects, resurrecting Primark’s Bank Buildings from the ashes following a devastating fire in 2018. This project picked up the Conservation Award.

Architect Patrick Bradley secured the Sustainability Award and 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.

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

The six winning projects are now in the running for a RIBA national award, celebrating the best of architecture across the whole of the UK.

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