Former Blood Transfusion Building, Durham St, Belfast

Our specialist team led the transformation of one of Belfast’s most historical buildings into 23 modern, high quality homes for families in an area of Belfast with a high social housing need, including 12 apartments, 10 houses and one bungalow.

The scheme involved the restoration of an important listed building, bringing it back to its former glory and saving a building which was under threat from demolition.

Built in 1918 and originally designed by Young & Mackenzie Architects – famous for other iconic Belfast City Centre buildings such as Scottish Provident Building, and the old Robinson & Cleaver department store – the building is well known as the former home of the Blood Transfusion Service and prior to that a Tuberculosis Centre.

Patton, writing in 1993, described No. 89 Durham Street as a ‘two-storey building in red brick with red sandstone dressings and broad central gable. Divided into five unequal bays by banded pilasters; tripartite windows in outer bays; central doorcase with Gibbsian pilasters and female head on keystone’ (Patton, p. 141).

The keystone does not appear on Young & Mackenzie’s original plans for the building; however the female head depicted above the doorcase is a representation of Hygeia, the goddess of sanitation and health.

The building bore a Latin inscription included under the central pediment which reads ‘Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus’: this is Belfast’s official Latin motto and literally means ‘For so much what we shall repay.’

A major challenge with this scheme was successfully integrating the old with the new and doing so in a tasteful and sensitive manner. This was achieved with the creation of a glazed link between the two buildings that incorporated what is essentially an internal street with a light infusing glazed roof.

The new extension occupies a subservient position to the pre-existing listed building to ensure it retains centre stage, with the original building’s exposed brickwork juxtaposed with a fresh, vibrant and contemporary interior.

The design included the enhancing of thermal performance to exceed current building regulation requirements as well as increasing u-values and installing secondary glazing and A-rated plant without negatively impacting the original building’s historic character.

The project won the following awards:
Winner: NIFHA Social Housing Development, 2019
Winner: Belfast Telegraph Residential Development, 2019
Finalist: Belfast Telegraph Development, 2019 (Finalist)
Winner: CIH Housing Development, 2019
Winner: Secured by Design Medium Sized Development, 2020

“This is an iconic building that had sadly fallen into disrepair. Clanmil acquired the building in August 2014 and set about working with the local community to design a scheme that celebrating the old building and met the needs of the community.

From a design perspective one of the most gratifying aspects is how Collins Rolston successfully separated the new extension and the retained listed building by creating a fabulous new atrium space between the two buildings.”

Colleen Quinn, Clanmil.