RIBA excellence awards: Tranquil CLIC Sargent refuge for cancer families is hailed for its design
IT'S a home from home for young cancer patients - funded by the generosity of Belfast Telegraph readers.
And now a CLIC Sargent building which provides sanctuary for families has just won a prestigious architecture award.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has recognised Northern Ireland's first Home From Home project in Belfast at this year's excellence awards.
The Guildhall in Londonderry, the PSNI Memorial Garden in Belfast and Loughloughan Barn in Broughshane also scooped awards.
Last night the team at CLIC Sargent, a children's and young person's cancer charity, told this newspaper they were thrilled with the good news.
The Home From Home, which was designed by McGonigle McGrath, is located within a "slipper walk" from the Royal Belfast Hospital For Sick Children.
It is offered to families whose children are undergoing cancer treatment.
Belfast Telegraph readers raised £50,000 towards building the family-focused facility, comprising four large en suite family bedrooms, communal living and kitchen spaces, a quiet room and play space. It was officially opened in February.
CLIC Sargent research shows that families dealing with childhood cancer can face an average round-trip of 95 miles several times per week in order to receive treatment. So the charity's home close to the hospital helps tackle any associated costs.
CLIC Sargent services team leader Cecilia Milburn said: "The design team from McGonigle McGrath were brilliant.
"They understood what the charity was trying to achieve and were very hands-on in terms of providing practical yet innovative solutions to some of the challenges we faced.
"We wanted to create space in which families felt safe yet welcomed, but most importantly a space that offered each the ability to remain close to their loved ones. McGonigle McGrath helped us to do just that."
Kieran McGonigle explained the design aspiration for the Home From Home was to create "a calm and peaceful domestic environment" removed from both the harsh reality of the hospital and liveliness of the busy Falls Road.
"We also sought to stitch a contemporary building into the existing fabric of an historic terrace," he added. "This location within the terrace offered views of Divis Mountain from the rear upper floors, and we placed the main living and sleeping spaces to take advantage of a private courtyard, in a way providing a contrast and relief for the families.
"The evening sun falling on the bedrooms and living room is filtered through the leafy branches of a screen of trees."
The 2014 RIBA excellence award-winning buildings in Northern Ireland are:
1. Home From Home, RVH, by McGonigle McGrath
2. Loughloughan Barn, Broughshane, by McGarry Moon Architects
3. PSNI Memorial Garden, Belfast, by Hall McKnight
4. The Guildhall, Derry, by Consarc Conservation