Dunelm House

There is an aspect of the history of Dunelm House, Durham’s former Students’ Union building, which may by now have been forgotten. In about 2000, the National Portrait Gallery was offered it as a possible site to display part of its twentieth-century collection through the agency of Northern Arts, Durham City Council and the University of Durham. It is an astonishing and fine building in a wonderful location on the River Wear. But it turned out that it was going to cost a gigantic amount to repair and adapt, so the project came to nothing. So, it is not just a question of listing, but finding the funds for imaginative re-use. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/jan/05/work-to-preserve-the-beauty-of-brutalism?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other


6 thoughts on “Dunelm House

  1. joan says:

    Rather like St Peter’s seminary, Cardross which has huge meaning to those of us who came to Catholic adulthood at the time when the changes ushered in by the Second Vatican Council promised so much. A vision of an exciting, forward looking church literally set in concrete! And a building that has also struggled to find a new purpose.

  2. Leslie Hills says:

    All plans to rescue St Pater’s Seminary have sadly been abandoned. I was lucky enough to be there a few years ago. It is ruinous. I was also fortunate to be Isi Metzstein’s friend from the time he designed it until his death eight years ago. He and Andy MacMillan were a light in considerable darkness. Unfortunately, with a couple of notable exceptions, I can’t find their influence on many contemporary public buildings in Scotland. But I am no expert.

  3. Leslie Hills says:

    The project was headed up by NVA which closed in 2018 not least because of the project, Joyce McMillan wrote about it at the time :


    It was handed over to Historic Environment Scotland.

    Their last board meeting was in December 2020 presumably due to Covid19. At that meeting the CEO spoke on ”
    His recent positive meeting with the Cabinet Secretary, with discussion
    focusing on climate change, visitor numbers and St Peters, Cardross. The
    Scottish Government Spending Review, was also discussed, noting that it
    will be affected by the timing of UK and Scottish budgets.”

    That’s all I have at the moment. I’ve no doubt if I were out and about as usual there would be more on the bush telegraph.


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