In December 2016, Durham University applied for a Certificate of Immunity from Listing (COIL) to the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). The first step on a path toward demolition. The application continues to be appealed by the Twentieth Century Society, but given the DCMSs track record and prejudice against modernist architecture a positive outcome is unlikely.
Today we are launching a crowdfunding campaign to support the campaign to save Dunelm House from demolition. Building on the resounding support we gathered through our petition last year (3200 signatures, and rising), we are planning a series of events to gather evidence and build a case for the retention and creative reuse of Dunelm House.
If you donate today, we will deliver the following:
A dedicated website to support the Save Dunelm House campaign - to raise awareness of the campaign, dispel common myths about the building and the case for demolition, and promote alternative ideas for future uses of the building.
- Design Charette*
A one-day event in which teams of Architects, Engineers, Students and Conservation Experts will come together to develop alternative ideas for how Dunelm House could be reused – contributing valuable evidence to the case for saving the building.
We aim to host two separate exhibitions in Durham and Newcastle to present the ideas from the design charrette to a public audience. You can support the exhibition directly through the crowdfunder and receive an invite to the opening event(s).
We aim to deliver a limited run publication outlining the case for saving Dunelm House and alternative ideas for its future. The booklet can be pre-ordered either digitally or in hard copy by supporting the crowdfunder.
-About Dunelm House
Described as the “the greatest contribution modern architecture has made to the enjoyment of an English medieval city”, Dunelm House is a tour de force of contextual modernism. Perched on the banks of the Wear, the interlocking concrete tears stack up the bank of the river gorge, in elegant reverence to the Grade I listed Durham Cathedral and the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the opposite bank. Completed in 1967, the students’ union building sits alongside Ove Arup’s Grade II listed Kingsgate Bridge, where it has stood for over 50 years with only minor superficial repairs to date.
Durham University’s position is that the building no longer meets the needs of the students’ union building and therefore should be demolished. The building is not without issues. Concrete spalling has revealed the steel reinforcement, the roof leaks and in recent years the building has been fitted with a lift by the University that takes a humiliating 15 mins to descend through the building. Like all good buildings, Dunelm House is in dire need of long term investment, not short term, ad-hoc fixes, least of all demolition. Fundamentally, the building needs rigorous consideration in terms of its history as well as its future before the careless route of demolition seals the fate of this seminal work of 20th Century architecture.
If you would like to see North East modern heritage saved for future generations, please donate and share.