DSU’s ugly building is finally going to be demolished

A renovation would cost £14.7 million

Goods news for anyone who thinks  the DSU building is an exceptionally large, ugly pebble. If you’re of the opinion that it’s a fine jewel, brace yourself.
Durham Uni is set to launch a global competition to redesign a replacement for the current DSU building, Dunelm House, after the government refused to have it listed.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley recently rejected calls for a Grade II listing which was designed by Archistects’ Co-Partnership (ACP) in 1966. Bradley said the building is ‘technically flawed’, alluding to the the design of the concrete roof, which has led to water ingress, and inadequate concrete cover on external services.

The university states that adapting the building to the proposed new uses outlined for the site under its emerging estate masterplan would be too costly, estimating that such a renovation would cost 14.7 million pounds. Due to this the uni has begun conversations with ‘statuary bodies and local residents’ about demolishing and replacing the building.

A spokesman from the university says: “As the site is located in the Durham City Conservation Area and in the setting of the World Heritage Site adjacent to the Grade I-listed Kingsgate Bridge, the replacement building will necessarily be of high quality. It is envisaged that the opportunity will be subject to an international architectural competition.

“We will work closely with the relevant statutory bodies, staff, the Durham Students’ Union and local residents to deliver a holistic and world-class design for this most sensitive location.”

The estate masterplan mentions that the buildings on New Elvet, including the DSU, are to be developed, and even suggests that the Students’ Union could be relocated to the Lower Mountjoy area.

Dunelm House has won several awards, and was described as ‘the finest examples of 20th-century architecture in the city’ by Durham Uni’s vice-chancellor Chris Higgins in 2011. The building is seen by many as a valuable piece of architecture, Catherine Croft from the Twentieth Century Society calling it ‘historically and architecturally significant’.