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2018 Project of the Year: RICS Awards, Northern Ireland

We are delighted to announce our Project of the Year, Northern Ireland – the Tropical Ravine in Botanic Gardens - along with the category winners for the RICS Awards, Northern Ireland 2018.

Thirty four impressive local schemes, representing best practice by professionals working in the built environment and providing benefit to communities, battled it out for top honours at the 2018 RICS Awards, Northern Ireland.

Local journalist Paul Clark MBE hosted this year’s ceremony attended, which was held at The La Mon Hotel & Spa, Belfast and attended by around 250 property professionals.

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Project of the Year Winner– The Tropical Ravine Belfast

The highly acclaimed Project of the Year title is presented to the scheme which demonstrates overall outstanding best practice and an exemplary commitment to adding value to its local area.

Delivered by surveyors Currie & Brown, architects Hall Black Douglas and contractors McAleer and Teague, the Tropical Ravine, a unique and nationally significant Victorian building, houses a noteworthy collection of tropical plants. It reopened to the public in April following a £3.8m upgrade.

RICS judges praised the sensitive conservation approach and said the partnership created of caring community groups and the Heritage Lottery Fund had collectively transformed the neglected overgrown corner of Botanic Gardens into a visitor attraction with an amazing story.

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Category winners and highly commended entries

Building Conservation

The Tropical Ravine, Belfast

This project was also a category winner. Its philosophy was to leverage value through physical restoration and the development of programmes celebrating the city’s rich and diverse Victorian heritage while empathising linkages with the historic landscape and built heritage of the Botanic Gardens.

Judges said that Belfast City Council, Friends of Botanic and the Heritage Lottery Fund have “transformed this unique national treasure and propelled it into the 21st century”.

They praised the strong conservation team which nurtured the project through dramatic change, enhancing its use while consistently respecting its historic fabric. They said the story it now tells and welcomes visitors to share in is “a model of best practice”.

The Tropical Ravine


Sponsored by Sika

Colby House

Colby House’s £5m reconfiguration for Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) involved a turnkey design and construct contract providing 34,500 square feet of Grade A office accommodation. A three-storey extension was constructed at the main entrance with a stunning feature entrance piazza. Internally, the building was stripped out and refitted to provide 21st century facilities.

Hood McGowan Kirk were surveyors for the project while architects involved included CPD Architect Branch, Gregory Architects and WDR and RT Taggart. JH Turkington and Sons were the contractors.

Judges said the refurbishment was “an exemplar commercial project with the use of excellent design” and praised the use of sustainability measures.

Community Benefit

John Paul II Primary School, Belfast

John Paul II Primary School on the Whiterock Road underwent a £1.2m extension, designed to encourage children to view education as an opportunity to succeed in life.

The project, delivered by surveyors Clarke Shipway, d-on architects, and contractors Connolly and Fee, has enhanced learning conditions in the school and helped the community set itself a new standard.

Judges said that generations of unemployment, sectarian strife and poverty have been alleviated by the stability and optimism of John Paul II Primary School. They added that its dedication to and engagement with parents and families has been greatly enhanced and amplified thanks to the modest investment in this block with four new classrooms.

Highly commended– Connswater Community Greenway

The £33m Connswater Community Greenway and East Belfast Flood Alleviation Scheme has made a massive contribution to the lives of residents and visitors to the area, improving life chances and biodiversity and creating healthier communities while catalysing regeneration and community cohesion. Those which worked on the Greenway project included surveyors from Belfast City Council, architectural firm Paul Hogarth and Farrans Construction.

Design Through Innovation

Sponsored by Forbo

Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex

A new model of healthcare provision, the complex is unique to both Northern Ireland and the UK in how services are delivered on one site.

The key underlying design drivers were delivering an innovative and fresh approach, combined with a vision for a holistic environment for healing. The project was delivered by surveyors WH Stephens, TODD Architects with Hall Black Douglas, and McLaughlin and Harvey.

Judges praised the “revolutionary improvements in the efficient and holistic delivery of community carer services at a single location” and the “feel good factor” it had created for the local community.


Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Station, Enniskillen

The new Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Station, designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century, provides a flexible workspace capable of supporting the Northern Ireland Ambulance’s changing and developing workforce and fleet.

Spread over 1,400m2, the facility provides a functional yet calming environment for staff and visitors during traumatic experiences.

Surveyors for the project were Currie & Brown while work was also carried out by Todd Architects and construction company FORRME.

Judges of the awards said the new station was “ground breaking, innovative and representative of how future stations will be”.


Sponsored by Mills Selig

Newry Leisure Centre

The £19m leisure centre project funded mainly by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, is a state-of-the-art facility including an eight lane swimming pool with moving floor, vitality suites, a café, two large sports halls, fitness suites and fitness studios.

The building was conceived as an object carved out of stone, inspired by the beauty of the natural carving of the Newry and Mourne mountain.

Surveyors for the project were Currie and Brown, architects were Kennedy FitzGerald and Felix O’Hare were the building contractors.

Judges said the project “demonstrated excellence in urban regeneration and design.”

Highly commended – The Pump House Portadown

Portadown Pump House, which was built in 1929 as part of the drainage system for the town, has been restored and brought back into use thanks to investment from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and Department for Communities. The project will act as a catalyst for a wider regeneration plan to reclaim the riverside area of the town.

The building is now a busy riverfront coffee shop but has maintained many of the original internal and external features. Faithful and Gould were surveyors for the project which also involved McAdam Design as architects and Moss Construction.


Rathgill, Bangor

Radius Housing’s development at Rathgill Bangor, which incorporates almost 200 homes, has been underpinned by design best practice, innovation, sustainability and integration with the established surrounding community.

The project was delivered by Naylor and Devlin surveyors, JNP Architects, Kelly Brothers and Hugh J O’Boyle.

Judges praised the extent of community consultation for the £22.5m scheme as well as well as the team’s consideration of the ecology of the site.

Tourism & Leisure

Titanic Hotel Belfast

The Titanic Hotel, which opened last September, saw the Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices and  headquarters building restored to the highest standards. As the jewel in the crown of the heritage assets on Queen’s Island, it is the centrepiece for a heritage area which attracts tourists from around the world.

Sammon Surveyors and RMI Architects carried out the project with Abercorn Construction.

Judges said: “It is stylish, not overstated, it is respectful not humble and most critically it brings a unique piece of Belfast’s history into contemporary life.”


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