The Architectural Award for 2022 has been given to a development at 173 Gilesgate, near the bottom of Gilesgate Bank within the City’s conservation area. It has already been recognised by receipt of the 2023 Royal Institute of British Architects North East Award, with its lead architect, Dave Hunt of Building Design Northern, being named RIBA North East Project Architect of the Year.
173 Gilesgate is an originally Georgian house (built c. 1760) and Grade II listed. The Trust’s award is in recognition of the quality of the extensions built sensitively into the garden along the line of the historic burgage plot. The new build replaces late twentieth century extensions in bad condition. The owners, Ms Debbie Hills and Mr John Carter, are a couple retiring to Durham who have made a large investment in restoring the main building and replacing the slightly dilapidated extensions. They have had especial regard to the design demands of catering for the possible infirmities of old age. The original planning application of 2019 was supported by the Trust. The City of Durham Parish Council praised the way the proposals harmonised with the policy of the City of Durham Neighbourhood Plan on Housing forOlder People and People with Disabilities.
The main extension is a day room, clad in weathered zinc, simple and rather minimalist in design, all on a level for ease of access. It forms an open plan with ample light, built in high quality contemporary materials. The design eschews the temptation of offering some sort of historical pastiche, while the grey of the roofs helps to merge the buildings locally with the predominantly slate roofs of older buildings. The development exploits well the virtues of its site, with both the day room and the detached new workshop being partially shaded by two attractive mature trees, even as the garden is open to an extraordinary view westward down the bank towards Durham’s historic peninsula.
The large trees had to be negotiated in construction without affecting their rootzones. Energy usage is minimised by use of an air source heat pump coupled to underfloor heating and heat recovery from a ventilation system.
If there is any blemish in the achievement of 173 Gilesgate it would relate to the view from the street where there is a rather clumsy restoration of an area of wall to the right. The appearance of the metal cladding of the roof and back of the day room as seen from the public pavement may unfairly suggest to some passers-by something rather like a big shed.
173 Gilesgate is a private building, not accessible by the public. Trustees took the view that the Trust’s architectural awards should simply encourage the best designs throughout the City, regardless of ownership.
Images used here are courtesy of Michael Hurlow.