Showing posts with label Conservation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conservation. Show all posts

Monday, 27 October 2014

Relaunch of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation NI Branch - Thursday 12 November, 5pm

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) in Northern Ireland will relaunch on Thursday 12 November 2014 at Clifton House, Clifton Street, Belfast.

Clifton House. Credit:

5.00pm: Arrival & Coffee
5.30pm: Welcome - What the IHBC can do for you
5.50pm: AGM: Branch updates and voting in the committee
6.00pm: Talks from Dawson Stelfox & Alastair Coey
6.45pm: Discussion
7.00pm: Close and canapes

To reserve your place please email Kate Kendall - [email protected]

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Past in the Present: A Bright Future for Carlisle Memorial Church

In this series, The Past in the Present, we explore how the historic urban character of a city can be part of a dynamic and continually evolving contemporary society, with an aim to spark debate on the topic of conservation and heritage in our cities and further afield.

Series curated by Ailish Killilea and Anna Skoura.

Carlisle Memorial Church Belfast. (Photo by Belfast Telegraph)
Carlisle Memorial Church has featured on our blog series before as one of three buildings in Northern Ireland on the World Monument Watch List (featured on the list in 2010), and it is now set to continue its lineage with repairs of up to £400,000. 

As featured in the Belfast Telegraph today,Alex Attwood, Environment Minister, pledged £400,000 to restore this iconic Belfast building, situated at Carlisle Circus, North Belfast. 

When making the announcement, Attwood said: “Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church is one of Belfast’s best known listed buildings and is a hugely important landmark at the entrance to West and North Belfast from the city centre.

Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church serves as a sober reminder of the city's architectural legacy and its troubled past. The church was designed in Gothic Revival style by the prominent architect, W. H. Lynn, and opened its doors to the public in 1875. The church that was once home to the largest Methodist congregations in Belfast ceased to be used as a place of worship in 1982, a consequence of the declining congregation and its location at a major interface between Catholic and Protestant populations.

Inside Carlisle Church. (Photo by Archiseek) 
The church has been lying derelict for close to thirty years and has suffered extensive physical degradation as a result. Despite its religious associations, the building is now perceived as neutral territory in a deeply polarized area and holds symbolic potential for North Belfast in particular, and for the city as a whole. This public perception and the church’s interface location lend credence to renewed proposals for the adaptive reuse of this shared heritage resource. Such a project would foster significant civic engagement with stakeholder communities and deepen the successes of the Northern Irish peace process.

Attwood also added: “This funding will help secure its future and, following its conservation and regeneration, will be a great opportunity to both revitalize and provide a significant economic boost for the area. What I and DOE is about, is making Northern Ireland a better place to live, work and invest and this will certainly help to do that."

A spokesman for Belfast Building Preservation Trust said: “Belfast Buildings Preservation Trust is delighted to receive this support from the Department of the Environment. Carlisle Memorial Church was Watch Listed by the World Monuments Fund in 2010 as one of the 100 most endangered historic buildings in the world."

“While it is not economically feasible to save every historic building, it is vital that we do as much as we can to preserve our rich past for future generations. Carlisle memorial is a jewel in our historical crown and after it’s conservation, it will have a great beneficial impact for the economy, tourism and for health and well being", said Minister Attwood.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

somewhereto_ Share your Vision

Lord Kitchener by Alfred Leete, image by Anna Skoura, poster by Ailish Killilea.

CALLING ALL STUDENTS! PLACE needs YOU to Share your Vision.

Is there a topic or project you think people should know about? Something within the built environment realm you feel passionate about? Then you should think about our student participation, somewhereto_Share your Vision, event being held at 12:00 on Saturday 4th of February at PLACE.

This is an opportunity for students to share their vision for the future of architecture and design. Whether it's a project you have worked on or a certain built environment topic you would like to discuss, we would encourage you to take part.

Come along and get to know some of the interns and volunteers at PLACE. Bring along any materials you think may illustrate your chosen subject. Refreshments provided.

If you are interested please RSVP Ailish on [email protected]

When?: 12:00pm, Saturday February 4th.
Where?: PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast. BT1 5EE.


PLACE is the Northern Ireland Regional Coordinator for somewhereto_, a nationwide project to help young people find the space they need to do the things they love within sport, culture and the arts. Run by Livity, in partnership with Channel 4, the project is funded by Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity set up to help build a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games across the UK.

Do you need somewhereto_ do the things you love? Get in touch with us...

Tweet us: @somewhereto_NI
Phone: 028 9023 2524

Friday, 20 January 2012

International course - Constructions in Stone

In this series, The Past in the Present, we explore how the historic urban character of a city can be part of a dynamic and continually evolving contemporary society, with an aim to spark debate on the topic of conservation and heritage in our cities and further afield.

Series curated by Ailish Killilea and Anna Skoura.

The Department of Architecture and Urbanism at the ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, is offering its first course in Practices in Architecture, Constructions in Stone, which will take place from 7 to 12 May 2012.

The course aims to develop skills in Practices in Architecture, particularly in construction and building conservation techniques, and to complement the current curriculum, which is mostly theoretical. 

Students will have the opportunity to work the material and to participate in the construction of a stone structure, under the direction and tutelage of stonemasons and stereotomy researchers.

Instruction is multi-disciplinary in nature. It will include aspects of Materials Science and is aimed at promoting interaction between Architectural Technology and Project Design, and between Construction and Conservation.

Course content will include both traditional and contemporary project design methods and construction techniques. The possibilities of the material will be explored and students challenged in terms of creativity and research into new architectural technologies.

This international course has the potential to broaden one's knowledge and experience, from the perspective of students, teachers, and specialists alike.

Course Suitability
The course is aimed at professionals and students of architecture, engineering, archeology, history of art, conservation-restoration, as well as any other discipline related to the subject matter.

For more information follow the link

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Past in the Present: The Legacy of the Cathedral Quarter

In this series, The Past in the Present, we explore how the historic urban character of a city can be part of a dynamic and continually evolving contemporary society, with an aim to spark debate on the topic of conservation and heritage in our cities and further afield.

Series curated by Ailish Killilea and Anna Skoura.

St. Annes Cathedral, Belfast. (Photo by Ailish Killilea)

In recent years the Cathedral Quarter has been identified as the key cultural district of Belfast, seen to play apivotal role as the focus for Belfast's burgeoning arts and crafts scene. Every year the Cathedral Quarter becomes a beehive of activity with a range of festivals locating here such as the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Open House Festival, Festival of Fools, Belfast Film Festival, Belfast Photo Festival, Out to Lunch Festival and Culture Night.

Culture Night 2010. (photo from Culture Night Belfast)

There are reportedly over 50 creative and cultural organisations located in the Cathedral Quarter presently.Lower rents in the area has helped artists and arts organisations to locate here. But it seems that the character of the area has been a major factor in attracting such a huge catchment of artists. Peter Mutschler, of Paragon Studios, Donegall Street, describes the reason to locate in the Cathedral Quarter: 'I think the reason to move into the premises with studio space on different floors (there are still two businesses)was- and still is- that the spaces are good and it has this kind of stimulating surrounding. The run down building itself has lots of character and the area just has a great atmosphere.'
It is this distinctive character that attracts new public and private investment every year, with adrive to support the cultural quarter's engaging beauty and vitality. Such support for the area has led to plans for regeneration of the Cathedral Quarter in the hope of increasing its utilization.

Map of Belfast, 1690. (Map sourced from Mark Thompson)

The area we know today as the Cathedral Quarter began its establishment right from the birth of the Belfast City in 1613. From this map dating back to 1690 we can see the North Gate and it is this street that is known as North Street. The Belfast River which would have run from the River Lagan down to Millgate now flows under High Street.

Belfast Map, 1791. (Map by Samuel Lewis)

From this map of Belfast in 1791 we can see a street pattern emerging. The Cathedral Quarter is being established, with many of its routes surviving today (Donegall Street, North Street, Waring Street, Rosemary Street, High Street). It is this historic footprint that contributes so much to the city in telling its story as a continually growing and evolving major city.

The following map shows the extent of the Cathedral Quarter today and the listed buildings within its limits that have survived.

Present day Cathedral Quarter map, showing boundaries and listed buildings. (map by Ailish Killilea)

In the late 1990's plans were submitted to the Department of Social Development (DSD) by Ewart Properties to regenerate the Cathedral Quarter area. The following map shows the extent of this planning proposal known as the Royal Exchange and the listed buildings that may be affected by this development.

Map showing the footprint of the Royal Exchange Development. (Map by Ailish Killilea)

Buildings within the footprint of the Royal Exchange include; North Street Arcade, the Exchange & Assembly Rooms, Lower Garfield Street, the First Presbyterian Church and the Masonic Building.

North Street Arcade today. (Photo by UAHS)

The North Street Arcade is a four-storey red brick building with red sandstone detailing was built in 1936 by Cowser & Smyth. The arcade bends through 90◦, with a domed space at the bend, once housing shops, artist groups and exhibition space. It survived the Belfast Blitz during the Second World War and I.R.A. bombings in 1971, but unfortunately it crumbled under an arson attack in April of 2004. Presently the building is listed, but no repairs have been carried out.

The Exchange & Assembly Rooms today. (photo by Ailish Killilea)

The Exchange and Assembly Rooms acquired its name through its function as a building. It was originally built as a one-storey market with arcade in 1769, known as 'The Exchange'. In 1776 Lord Donegall commissioned Sir Robert Taylor to design a two-storey building for social gatherings and dances, when the building then became known as 'The Assembly Rooms'.Fashionable society immediately began referring to the area of Bridge Street, North Street, Waring Street, and Rosemary Lane as 'The Four Corners'. After the 1798 rebellion, the Assembly Rooms served as a trial room for Henry Joy McCracken of the United Irishmen (he was subsequently hung at High Street). In 1845 Sir Charles Lanyon won the commission to convert the Assembly Rooms to the present day structure for Northern Bank. Today the building is in disuse, with much loobying to use the venue as an exhibition hall or theatre.

Lower Garfield Street today. (photo from Lower Garfield)

Lower Garfield Street was known as the Curved Entry until 1910 until it was named after the US President James Garfield. The curved red brick building was built in 1896 by Graeme, Watt and Tullock. The curved red brick building was once occupied by a ballroom, many shops and the Garfield Bar, but today, all that remains is the Tivoli barber shop.

The First Presbyterian Church today. (photo Ailish Killilea)

This building is said to be the oldest surviving place of worship in Belfast city. It was built in 1781-83 by Roger Mullholland and the facade was extended in 1883 and the rear in 1906-07 by Young and Mackenzie. In Victorian time this building would have been seen as less admirable, but the Irish builder of 1867 expressed a different opinion 'for those who believe in Classic churches clothed in cement, this building cannot fail to satisfy their taste' (M. Patton, Central Belfast).

Masonic Hall. (photo by A. Killilea)

The Masonic Building on Rosemary Street was built in 1950-54 by Young & Mackenzie. The three-storey building is made from reconstructed stone with a flat full width pediment and a central bay set slightly forward with balustraded balcony on scrolled barckets over the entrance portico. Above the entrance door are the mason's compasses over fanlight. This was originally the site of The Third Presbyterian Church, finished in 1831 to the designs of John Miller. The Third Presbyterian Church was destroyed in the blitz of 1941. The Provincial Grand Lodge Hall at 15 Rosemary Street is the headquarters of the provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim. Due to the recent harsh economic climate it has been difficult to maintain the hall and lodges are now generally located in Arthur Square Hall. Consideration is been given to the future of the hall, according to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim, alternatives than to sell the building are being sought in order to maintain the Masonic Hall.

Through the discussion of this heritage in the Cathedral Quarter that may possibly face demolition if plans for The Royal Exchange are to go ahead. It is clear that the character of the Cathedral Quarter comes from its colorful and historic past.
Alternative efforts, to that of the Royal Exchange, to regenerate the Cathedral Quarter can be seen in cultural campaigns and projects such as: City Supplements: an Alternative Urban Strategy, The Risk is Rewarding, Barber Shop Quintet, Save the Cathedral Quarter and Let's Get it Right.
Is this historic fabric an integral part of the Cathedral Quarter? If so, is there a way to incorporate such buildings into a design to regenerate the Cathedral Quarter?

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Past in the Present: World Monument Fund - 2012 Watch List

In this series, The Past in the Present, we explore how the historic urban character of a city can be part of a dynamic and continually evolving contemporary society, with an aim to spark debate on the topic of conservation and heritage in our cities and further afield.

Series curated by Ailish Killilea and Anna Skoura.

The 2012 Watch List has been recently announced by the World Monuments Fund. Every two years since 1996, the World Monuments Watch calls international attention to cultural heritage around the globe that is at risk from the forces of nature and the impact of social, political, and economic change. It is worth mentioning that the Carlilsle Memorial Methodist church in Belfast was included in the 2010 List.

This year, four sites in the UK are part of the Watch:

British Brutalism in Birmingham, Preston, and London, England
Find out more: link

Southbank Centre in London, view along the south side of the Hayward Gallery, 2010, image via the World Monuments Fund

Newstead Abbey in Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire
Find out more: link
The 13th century West Front of the priory church of Newstead Abbey, 2011, image via the World Monuments Fund

Quarr Abbey in Ryde, Isle of Wight
Find out more: link
Rough stone gable with blind pointed arches in the old abbey, seen from the East, 2009, image via the World Monuments Fund

Ruins of the former cathedral church of St. Michael in Coventry, West Midlands
Find out more: link
View of the old Cathedral from the East, with the new Cathedral to the right, 2011, image via the World Monuments Fund

The complete list, as well as a very informative report are available online via the World Monuments Fund.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Past in the Present: Adaptive church re-use

In this series, The Past in the Present, we explore how the historic urban character of a city can be part of a dynamic and continually evolving contemporary society, with an aim to spark debate on the topic of conservation and heritage in our cities and further afield.

Series Curated by Ailish Killilea & Anna Skoura

As times are changing, religious needs are changing too. Less people go to services, resulting with a number of churches left unused and subject to decay. As churches are in most cases buildings with historic and architectural interest, valued by the community, it is imperative to consider their conservation.

But preservation without reuse is not easy to justify or finance, especially in the midst of an economic recession. It is also true that there are a great number of historic buildings eligible for re-use and they all compete against each other for the limited resources associated with this type of development. Sadly, churches offer limited appeal due to their inherent difficulties to convert. Nevertheless, there are a number of very successful examples of reused churches that demonstrate how with appropriate interventions the building can be suited for a number of purposes with very alluring results and can prove a unique visitor/user experience.

Most people in Belfast would be familiar with the Belfast Empire Music Hall, a Victorian era church now converted to a boosting nightlife venue. But this is not the only successful example.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Internships in Restoration of Cultural Heritage

If you enjoyed the exhibition 'Revival' held at PLACE and are interested in conservation and restoration of cultural heritage, there are a number of international institutions providing internships to graduates in architecture, archaeology, art history, urban planning and engineering.

ICCROM is an intergovernmental organization, based in Rome, dedicated to the conservation of cultural heritage that aims at improving the quality of conservation practice as well as raising awareness about the importance of preserving cultural heritage. ICCROM hosts up to four interns per calendar year, each of the internships lasting normally for a period of two to six months and held in Italy.

Photo by PhillipC on

ICOMOS, the International Council of Monuments and Sites, works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places. It is a network of experts that benefits from the interdisciplinary exchange of its members, among which are architects, historians,archaeologists, art historians, geographers, anthropologists,engineers and town planners.
The UNESCO World heritage centre, known mainly for the compilation of the 'World Heritage List', provides very exciting internship opportunities, around the world.
Find out more :

Photo by Archer10 on

Friday, 15 April 2011

Call for Submissions: RSUA Conservation Exhibition at PLACE

Deadline 06.05.2011

The RSUA and PLACE present an exhibition of conservation work by local practices from 5th September to 7th October 2011. This coincides with the NIEA European Heritage Open Days on 10th and 11th September, and offers the opportunity to promote conservation to a wider audience. We are seeking entries to the exhibition from those interested in exhibiting their schemes.

Click to enlarge flyer. Download PDF.

For information on submitting your scheme, download the PDF info sheet: click here.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Event report: Restore, Reuse, Recycle (20th Oct)

Colin Shaw chairing the panel discussion

On Wednesday 20th October we were delighted to welcome three leading lights of architectural conservation to Belfast . Nicholas V Thompson, Niall McCullough and Dawson Stelfox - working in London, Dublin and Belfast respectively - were at the Ulster Museum for the PLACE Restore, Reuse, Recycle panel discussion.

Nicholas V Thompson of Donald Insall Associates described his “ten degrees of intervention” which encapsulated the basic concepts of conservation and restoration. From “regular daily care” to “radical interventions to secure a building’s future” to “major urban change involving multiple interventions”, each successive degree increased in complexity and involved a greater level of intrusion and transformation.

Thompson’s talk explored the degrees of intervention with examples from the work of his firm, Donald Insall Associates, whose portfolio includes numerous well-known buildings across the UK. These included the restoration of Windsor Castle after a catastrophic fire in 1992, the modern refurbishment of the courtyard of Somerset House, and the sensitive conservation of the Houses of Parliament.

Niall McCullough of McCullough Mulvin Architects was the second speaker of the evening and he highlighted his firm’s work in producing modern interventions in old buildings. Their Rush Library in County Dublin, for instance, involved a startling modern intervention in a Victorian church. The new structures were sensitively implanted into the heart of the original building; they were independent and non-invasive and thus allowed new and old to co-exist.

Niall McCullough

Intervening in an already existing building demands learning and appreciation of the existing built fabric - McCullough sees it as “a form of geography, working within a building rather than with fields or hedges”. This learning experience also has the capacity to surprise: “When you make an assumption about a building, it comes back to bite you”. You have to “work with, rather than against” the building. The process of intervention “engenders humility”, says McCullough. “You are just one person working on this building over several years”. Taking this concept to its logical end, the firm ensured that their intervention was reversible: “What goes in could come out.” Finally, McCullough pointed out that his work was merely a means to an end: “The people and [in the case of Rush Library] the books complete the architecture”, he says.

The final speaker of the evening was Dawson Stelfox. Stelfox is Chairman of Consarc Design Group, a practice working across the UK and Ireland, with a strong track record of rehabilitating derelict and dilapidated buildings in Belfast. Stelfox raised some interesting questions and touched on the paradoxes and problems inherent in architectural conservation. Speaking of the refurbishment of the House of Commons Chamber at Stormont following the fire of 1995, he described how the decision was taken to replicate the original chamber…but change it. Stelfox tackled some potentially contentious issues, discussing the possible futures of the North Street Arcade in Belfast and questioning the audience as to what should be done with this dilapidated building.

The panel

The evening ended with a Question and Answer session with the three speakers which instigated an interesting and lengthy discussion ranging from reuse of vacant buildings to increasing public appreciation for built heritage.

Rosaleen Hickey and Conor McCafferty
Photography: Amberlea Neely

Monday, 15 March 2010

QUB ARCSOC Lecture - Dawson Stelfox - this Thurs

Click the poster to enlarge

Dawson Stelfox: "Can old buildings be green buildings?"
Thursday 18th March 2010, 6pm
LG024, David Keir Building, Stranmillis/Malone Rd

Monday, 18 May 2009

"Constructive Conservation"

Park Hill Estate, Sheffield - image source

English Heritage is an excellent 4-part BBC series following the work of English Heritage in preserving four major heritage sites in England: the Jacobean mansion Apethorpe Hall; the Park Hill Estate housing scheme, Sheffield, dating from 1961; the 16th Century garden at Kenilworth Castle; and King's Cross railway station in London.

The show captures fairly well the pressures faced on all sides: English Heritage have to balance improvement of the sites in their charge with the retention of the original features and character, architects and conservation engineers have to work within fairly strict conservation boundaries while allowing their own creativity and conceptions of each project to flourish, and of course all the projects now face the daunting challenge of the global recession.

And of course, any plans to modernise existing buildings will run into controversy - writing in the Guardian, Owen Hatherly is not sure English Heritage have gotten it right with their work on Park Hill:

"This astonishing structure is a battered remnant of a very different country, one that briefly turned housing for working people into futuristic monuments rather than shamefaced hutches. The ideologies of regeneration and heritage, when applied to the very different ethics of new brutalism, can only destroy the thing they claim to love."

The four episodes of English Heritage are available on the BBC's iPlayer until Friday 22nd May. Well worth a look: click here.

There is also a profile of each project on the English Heritage site: click here.)

BBC iPlayer: English Heritage (4 episodes)
English Heritage: English Heritage at Work
English Heritage: Park Hill - Constructive Conservation in Practice
The Guardian: Park Hill "in danger of losing what makes it special" (Owen Hatherly, 2nd May 2009)