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
Colin Town Centre (CTC) Transport Hub, Belfast by Hall McKnight
Source: Donal McCann
House Lessans, Saintfield by McGonigle McGrath
Source: Aidan McGrath
Killyleagh Castle, Killyleagh by Alastair Coey
Source: Adrian Curran
Number 50, Belfast by McGarry-Moon
Source: Adam Currie
65-67 Fitzroy Avenue, Belfast by Studiorogers
Source: Gary McCall
Raidió Fáilte, Belfast by McGurk Architects and ARdMackel
Source: Paul Lindsay
Belfast City Quays 2, Belfast by Grimshaw
Source: Donal McCann
The HMS Caroline, Belfast by Consarc Design Group
Source: Jef Maytom