Palatine Centre slammed as ‘monstrous’

Durham’s new £50m headquarters has been condemned for being a ‘townscape disaster’ by The City of Durham Trust.


Durham’s new £50m headquarters has been condemned for being a ‘townscape disaster’ by The City of Durham Trust.

The leading conservation group argued that the Palatine Centre, with which many were ‘delighted’, was ‘alien’ to the city, breaking all basic rules of architecture and urban design.

“Context is the first principle: place comes before building,’ it said in the Trust’s spring bulletin.

‘To what does the Palatine Centre relate: where is there any hint of ‘Durhamness’ in its form or materials?

‘Durham, as the Local Plan acknowledges, is characterised by brick or stone, simple robust shapes, vertical lines and a predominance of solid over void.

‘The Centre is predominantly wood and glass, with simplicity abandoned for a series of curves and flowing lines.

‘The large, alien structure has drawn a unanimous response from the Trust, English Heritage and architects of national or international standing, who have summarised it as overbearing, unduly intrusive, aggressive, monstrous. Truly, an opportunity lost.’

It was last summer that Old Shire Hall was replaced by the Palatine Centre as the University’s headquarters.

The University’s acting registrar Paulina Lubacz, reportedly said: ‘The University takes great pride in its estate, which includes being custodians of some of Durham City’s most remarkable architecture and landscapes.

‘The design of the Palatine Centre was informed by a two-year programme of consultation with students, staff, local residents and statutory bodies during which significant modifications were made to the design. We are delighted with the outcome.’