Dunelm House

The Northern Architectural Association is strongly opposed to the demolition of Durham University’s student union building. Completed in 1966, Dunelm House received design awards from the Civic Trust, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Northern Architecture Association.

The Trustees consider that the high cost of repair and poor performance of the fabric of the building have been grossly exaggerated to make an arbitrary case for demolition. Along with others we believe that the building should be listed following a more considered and balanced appraisal of its architectural qualities and value.

Professor Alan Powers, former Chairman of the Twentieth Century Society writes:
The challenge given to Architects Co-Partnership was to create a central Students Union and Staff Club next to the Kingsgate footbridge, designed personally by Ove Arup, as the catalyst for a University redevelopment of the riverbank known as New Elvet. The result is a cascade of roofs and terraces with panoramic windows for enjoying the view, and was widely acclaimed on completion. One of the reasons why Dunelm House is such an enjoyable building to visit and explore is the different character of the spaces that were purpose-designed according to a tight brief, although one of the most memorable features is the internal ‘street’ that drops down the five levels from a high-level entry on the landward side by a series of short stairways beside which there are generous sitting spaces with views out. Where could you find a more inspiring place to organise a meeting or an academic conference than the big concert and ballroom space down by the water’s edge where Thelonious Monk played with his quartet in the month of the opening?

Rowan Moore of The Observer Architecture implores the Government to Save Dunelm House from the wrecking ball, and Professor Douglass Wise formally Head of Newcastle University School of Architecture and Director of the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies at the University of York said of the building that it is the greatest contribution modern architecture has made to the enjoyment of the medieval city.

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