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Big drop in Northern Ireland’s RIBA regional award contenders

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Only eight schemes have been shortlisted for the 2019 regional RIBA awards in Northern Ireland – a huge fall from last year

In 2018, a bumper 21 projects in the region made the shortlist for the honours, also known as the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) Design Awards, which mark the first step on the road towards the RIBA Stirling Prize.

The 2019 contenders range from a transport hub by Hall McKnight to a house refurbishment and extension by McGarry-Moon, and features a social housing project based in South Belfast, designed by Studiorogers for Clanmil Developments. In total 23 project were entered for the regional accolades this year, compared with 37 in 2018.

RSUA director Ciarán Fox said: ‘This year’s shortlist is brilliantly diverse with no two projects alike. From a distinctive local transport hub to the restoration of a ship from the first world war, there is much to celebrate. Northern Ireland always has some remarkable housing projects but it is great to see a social housing project make this list, reflecting a new focus by housing associations on architecture’.

The last two years have been challenging for architects seeking to deliver the best value to society in Northern Ireland

‘The last two years have been challenging for architects seeking to deliver the best value to society in Northern Ireland. There have been quite a few sizeable commercial projects where perhaps design quality was not a major consideration for the client. A number of significant publicly funded projects have stalled and many of those that have proceeded have sought design on the lowest fee basis. In that context, the clients, architects and other consultants and builders involved in these shortlisted projects are to be particularly commended’.

He added: ‘Looking ahead, architects are concerned about the flow of new public buildings due to the absense of devolved government. But there is hope too. Public bodies are now taking meaningful steps to improve design quality through procurement processes that seek creativity and long-term value. Simultaneously some local councils are becoming more aware of their role as guardians of design quality through the planning process’.

The eight finalists also make up the longlist for the Liam McCormick Prize – Northern Ireland’s building of the year award.

The regional winners are due to be announced on Friday 17 May at the Ulster Museum, Belfast - fitting given the venue’s extension won a RIBA award in 1972. The winning schemes will be put forward for the RIBA National Awards, with the recipients named in June.

Those collecting national awards will then be considered for the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize.

The RSUA Design Awards 2018 judges 

Chair and architect (from NI), Alan Jones, former RSUA president and incoming RIBA president; RIBA-appointed judge (from GB) Neil Gillespie of Reiach and Hall; RSUA-appointed judge Suzanne Lyle, head of visual arts for Arts Council NI; RIAI-appointed judge, Liam Tuite, RIAI Architecture and Communications Committee 

The shortlist

Colin Town Centre (CTC) Transport Hub, Belfast by Hall McKnight

Ctc transport hub 3420 donal mccann original 10

Source: Donal McCann

House Lessans, Saintfield by McGonigle McGrath

House lessans 3344 aidan mcgrath original 4

Source: Aidan McGrath

Killyleagh Castle, Killyleagh by Alastair Coey

Killyleagh castle 3270 adrian curran original 1

Source: Adrian Curran

Number 50, Belfast by McGarry-Moon 

Number 50 3112 adam currie original 1

Source: Adam Currie

65-67 Fitzroy Avenue, Belfast by Studiorogers

65 67 fitzroy aven 3172 gary mccall original 5

Source: Gary McCall

Raidió Fáilte, Belfast by McGurk Architects and ARdMackel

Raidio failte lion 3213 paul lindsay original 6

Source: Paul Lindsay

Belfast City Quays 2, Belfast by Grimshaw

Belfast city quays 2 3177 donal mccann original 2

Source: Donal McCann

The HMS Caroline, Belfast by Consarc Design Group

The hms caroline, th 3211 jef maytom  original 1

Source: Jef Maytom

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