Campaign underway to save Durham's controversial student union building

A CAMPAIGN has started to try and save a controversial concrete building after plans were unveiled to pull it down.

A petition to save Durham University’s Dunelm House has already attracted more than 700 signatures in five days.

The university has announced that it wants to replace the 1960s Brutalist building with a newly built performance space which would be open to the public.

James Perry, from the Something Concrete and Modern project, which is documenting the North-East’s post-war buildings, said: “While other towns and cities are saving their modern buildings the North-East is choosing to demolish them.

“It’s a campaign to save some of the better buildings, of which Dunelm House is one.

“It’s very modest and unassuming and sits well in the landscape. It’s unique and sympathetic to the medieval city of Durham.”

Designed by Richard Raines, Dunelm House connects to Ove Arup’s Grade I-listed Kingsgate Bridge over the River Wear.

Arup, famed for also having designed the Sydney Opera House, was particularly attacked to the bridge and had his ashes scattered from it following his death in1988.

Mr Perry added: “He was born here and it was one of his favourite bridges which has an association with the building. The two are a bit of a merged work.”

He said: “I’m an architect so to me demolition should always be the last resort. It’s costly and wasteful.”

The campaign is calling for the building to be repaired and refurbished, which the university says will cost £14.7million.

The Government has decided not to give the five-storey building listed status and is due to decide on whether to grant the university a Certificate of Immunity from listing, which would allow it to demolish it.

The university wants to move the student union, currently at Dunelm House in New Elvet, to its lower Mountjoy area, off South Road and is planning an international competition to find a design for a new building in New Elvet.

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