Belfast Telegraph

Concrete plans for the preservation of four of Belfast's Modernist marvels

By Rebecca Black

A Sixties tower and a modernist teaching block may not be among Belfast's most celebrated examples of architecture - but they could receive historical listing to ensure they are preserved for future generations.

A quartet of modern buildings are being considered for listing by Belfast City Council's planning committee next week.

They include the Ashby Building on Stranmillis Road, which houses the Queen's University School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Erected between 1961 and 1965, it was designed by Cruikshank and Seward and includes a tower block, a courtyard building and a two-storey lecture theatre constructed mostly from concrete in the 20th century Rationalist style.

Planning committee minutes note it is "one of the best examples of a large scale, modernist, in situ concrete building in Northern Ireland and a landmark building in south Belfast", and recommend a B+ listing.

Another of the four is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Annadale Avenue, which was built in 1969 and is a rare example of a "self-build" Modernist church.

The minutes note it was erected by the congregation, and has a "striking Modernist appearance". It is recommended for B1 listing.

The next, a Modernist detached house in the Notting Hill area of south Belfast, was built in 1980. It was designed by Northern Ireland-born interior designer Brian Lowe, whose consultancy became renowned for creating the Body Shop's original 'green box' store concept.

It boasts many contemporary features including exposed in situ concrete heads (Breton brut), original black painted metal windows, and what the minutes describe as a "remarkable interior" that is part open plan and features a hallway atrium with original staircase and first floor gallery.

It also has a "wealth of bespoke fitted furniture and fixtures throughout". It is recommended for B2 listing.

The fourth property is the central building adjacent to Stranmillis House at Stranmillis College.

It is described as a "large Modernist university teaching block" that was erected around 1968 by The Ministry of Finance under the direction of architect HH Wightman.

It consists of a three-storey courtyard building with three smaller blocks and a drum building at its corners, all connected to the main block via glazed links, and is mainly constructed in concrete.

The minutes say that it "represents a good example of large academic building designed in the Modernist style", with internal detailing intact. It is recommended for B1 listing.

Ulster Architectural Heritage Society chief executive Nikki McVeigh welcomed the proposals "in recognition of their historical and architectural significance".

"The buildings presented for listing represent good examples of 20th century architecture and the style and detailing characteristic of the 1960-70s period.

"These particular listings include a variety of residential, ecclesiastical and educational buildings, giving a very good overview and insight into the architecture of the period.

"They are all characterised by the quality of their largely original interiors and the excellent condition that their owners have maintained. Examples of modern architecture are perhaps too often overlooked. Therefore these listings are to be welcomed."

Belfast Telegraph

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