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Press release

25 MAY 2018

Botanic Gardens named Northern Ireland Project of the Year

A south Belfast building project which has transformed an overgrown corner of Botanic Gardens into a new and exciting visitor attraction has been named Project of the Year at RICS Awards 2018, Northern Ireland.

The Tropical Ravine, a unique and nationally significant Victorian building, housing a noteworthy collection of tropical plants, reopened to the public in April following a £3.8m upgrade.

Belfast City Council, with significant Heritage Lottery Fund support, working with Friends of Botanic, has restored it back to its former glory, with a modern 21st century twist aimed to make it one of Belfast’s popular tourist attractions.

Judges of the prestigious RICS Awards said the project had scored very highly when inspected and had been unanimously supported as Project of the Year. The Tropical Ravine also won the Building Conservation category of the awards.

The annual RICS Awards, Northern Ireland celebrate inspirational initiatives across the built environment. The Project of the Year Award is presented to the project which is judged overall as an excellent example of best practice by professionals working in both the built and natural environments.

The winners

Projects from across Northern Ireland won awards at a ceremony hosted by television presenter Paul Clark at the La Mon Hotel & Spa, Belfast, after 34 hugely diverse schemes were shortlisted in eight categories. Winners of the categories were:

  • Building Conservation – The Tropical Ravine, Belfast
  • Commercial – Colby House, Belfast
  • Community Benefit – St Paul II Primary School, Belfast
  • Design through Innovation – Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex
  • Infrastructure – Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Station, Enniskillen
  • Regeneration – Newry Leisure Centre
  • Residential – Rathgill, Bangor
  • Tourism & Leisure – Titanic Hotel, Belfast

Highly commended

Two other projects were highly commended: the Connswater Community Greenway in the Community Benefit category and the Pump House, Portadown in the Regeneration category.

Project of the Year

The Tropical Ravine was deemed “a model of best practice” by the judging panel who praised the work of the conservation team which nurtured it through dramatic change, enhancing its use while consistently respecting its historic fabric. The project has transformed a previously neglected overgrown corner of Botanic Gardens into a visitor attraction with an amazing story to be absorbed at leisure.

Companies involved in the project included surveyors Currie & Brown, architects Hall Black Douglas and contractors McAleer and Teague. 

RICS Awards Grand Final

All category winners will go on to compete against other regional winners at the national RICS Awards Grand Final on 2 November 2018 in London, for the chance to be crowned the overall UK winner in their respective category