06/05/2022

Belfast Visitor Centre Crowned NI Building Of The Year

Belfast's new James Connolly visitor centre on the Falls Road, Áras Uí Chonghaile. has been named Northern Ireland's Building of the Year.

The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) presented the Liam McCormick Prize to the centre, which was designed for Fáilte Feirste Thiar (Visit West Belfast) by McGurk Architects.

Áras Uí Chonghaile joins past winners including 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."
News Image
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 commented: "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."

L'Derry proved popular at the awards, with four other RSUA Design Award-winning projects all based in the county.

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."

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.

Consarc Design Group also won for its work on the North-West Multi Modal Transport Hub, while the new North Wing of the Altnagelvin Acute Hospital designed by winners HLM Architects and Hall Black Douglas was described by the judges as an "uplifting place for staff to work and it delivers an environment rich in healing potential."

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

21 June 2022
Scottish Mutual Building Must Be Protected - SDLP
The SDLP has highlighted the importance of the Scottish Mutual Building in Belfast City Centre to be protected and put back into use, following reports that masonry fell from the building this morning.
15 June 2022
Scottish Mutual Building 'Must Be Brought Back Into Use'
The SDLP has called for the Scottish Mutual Buidling in Belfast city centre to be brought back into use. South Belfast Councillor Gary McKeown made the call following a court decision that the building, previously earmarked for the George Best Hotel, can be sold.
01 July 2022
Former BHS Building Redevelopment Approved
The redevelopment of the former BHS building in Belfast city centre and another new hotel in the Cathedral Quarter are among a number of major planning applications approved by Belfast City Council's Planning Committee.
14 January 2004
Rise in NI unemployment figures
The number of people unemployed in Northern Ireland is on the increase according to the latest figures. Labour force statistics released on Wednesday revealed that some 46,000 people are unemployed, a rise of 3,000 on the this time last year.
04 January 2012
Recognition For First APM Register Project Professionals
The Association for Project Management (APM) has recognised the first Northern Ireland recipients of its new APM Registered Project Professional (RPP) designation.