Two DMU buildings shortlisted for their architectural excellence


The multi-million pound transformation of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has once again caught the attention of industry judges.

Two university buildings have been shortlisted in the East Midlands Regional Awards organised by leading professional body, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

RIBA Awards 2 WEB

Judges have named Castle Hall and the Vijay Patel Building among just 15 buildings shortlisted for their architectural excellence.

Castle Hall is a Grade I listed building built in 1150, which lays claim to being the largest double-aisled medieval hall in Europe. It was originally built to serve the Leicester Castle complex, before being used as a court of law for more than 700 years.

DMU then leased the building and spent more than £4.2m transforming it into the Leicester Castle Business School to provide teaching and learning within a unique historic setting. Working closely with Historic England and the Local Authority Conservation Officers, architects Maber Associates sympathetically refurbished the building to incorporate modern lecture and events rooms within the two original courtrooms.

The redevelopment of the Fletcher complex into the Vijay Patel Building formed a critical phase in DMU’s campus transformation masterplan to reconnect the city centre to the River Soar. The purpose-built £43 million Faculty of Art and Design building is surrounded by a series of linked public spaces through the DMU campus. CPMG Architects focused on atrium spaces with open galleries to maximise views between floors and departmental areas.

The annual RIBA Awards drive excellence in architecture through the highest professional and ethical standards. The organisation prides itself on helping to deliver better buildings, particularly if they support communities and create a sustainable environment.

RIBA Awards 3 WEB

Umesh Desai, Director of Estates & Commercial Services at DMU, said: “Being shortlisted by the RIBA further reinforces the visual and architectural impact our campus transformation projects have made not only on the campus, but on the city as well. 

“Both projects are distinctive in their own rights, the striking features of the Vijay Patel Building on the skyline are absolutely stunning and every day I get comments from different people about how amazing and fantastic the campus looks and how they wished they studied here. 

“The architects on these projects have really done us proud.  The sensitive and caring manner in which the Leicester Castle Hall has been refurbished has not only given it a new lease of life, but demonstrates that having the right architect is so vitally important for restoring historic buildings.”

The winner of the regional awards will be announced on Thursday 17 May at The Engineering Building at the University of Leicester. BBC East Midlands Political Editor, Tony Roe, will host the awards night.

The East Midlands winner will then go head-to-head with the country’s other regional winners to be in with a chance of winning the highly coveted RIBA National Award.

Sam Culling, RIBA East Midlands chair, said: “I’m delighted that 15 projects have been shortlisted for the RIBA East Midlands 2018 Awards.

“The diversity of schemes selected, including five by regionally-based practices, demonstrates the breadth of high-quality architecture that this region has to offer.”

The RIBA Awards are the latest in a long list of accolades for DMU buildings. Three university building projects have been shortlisted in the East Midlands Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards.

Just a few months ago, DMU was honoured at the 15th Annual ProCon Awards for Leicestershire.  The Vijay Patel Building won the Large Non-Residential Scheme of the Year category while the transformation of Mill Lane scooped the Small Non-Residential Scheme of the Year.

The Vijay Patel Building has also been named as the best educational building in the East Midlands at the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) awards. While, Leicester Civic Society named it the best new building in Leicester.

For more information on the RIBA Awards, which started in 1966, visit the RIBA website.

Posted on Monday 9th April 2018

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