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North East office of national architect revitalises historic Durham site

ByHarvey Hugo

Oct 24, 2018

A well-known historic site in Durham has been given a new lease of life, thanks to the work of the Darlington office of an award-winning architectural practice, Church Lukas.

The firm is celebrating its second year in the North East with the successful completion of the regeneration of the former County Hospital site in Durham.

Renamed as Rushford Court, the site will now provide contemporary accommodation for over 360 students, run by Unite, the UK’s largest provider of privately-operated accommodation.

Unite’s Commercial Manager, Matthew Painter, said: “Church Lukas has delivered an exceptional student scheme for us in Durham. It’s been a pleasure to work alongside an architectural practice that has fulfilled our expectations in such a creative way, satisfying complex requirements and achieving exactly what was promised.”

John Freeman, Director of Church Lukas said “We are really pleased to have received such positive feedback since the project has been handed over.

“When we first came to the site we found the city’s first public hospital, abandoned and faded into obscurity. We have extensively and sensitively redeveloped the area by utilising modern techniques and traditional craftsmanship. The addition of new buildings accounts for complex topography, using locally quarried Durham stone and complimentary brick.”

The £24m project for clients Peveril Securities and Sladen Estates is the fourth major project that the practice has delivered in the North East, with three other schemes in Newcastle City Centre previously completed.

Andrew McIntyre, the associate who leads the practice’s North East office, said: “It’s been a really busy two years. We’ve been a closely guarded secret, but the completion of this project will showcase our capability to more people. We’re looking forward to taking on new projects across the area.”

Church Lukas, whose head office is in Nottingham, has designed over 15,000 student homes across the UK, having worked in the sector for over 20 years. In addition to student accommodation, the practice works in sectors including commercial, residential, and senior living; predominantly working with developers and investors.

The architecture practice has been an advocate of Off-Site Manufacture (OSM) and Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) for many years, completing its first volumetric housing development back in 2009.

In 2006, Church Lukas delivered nineteen fully volumetric homes for Salford City Council in just twenty-one days. More recently, the company’s Graystacks townhouse scheme delivered carbon negative accommodation with panelised solid wood construction. Both projects received design and commercial awards.

John added, “One of the problems in delivering the vision is skills. You have to base the business around people, which is why we set up in the North East and have plans to develop a presence in Leeds.

“We are confident that our ‘kit of parts’ approach to design allows us to deliver the unique experiences that our clients and building users value, while still achieving the efficiency and risk management that our contractor clients seek.”

The Practice worked on the Rushford Court project alongside GVA (project managers), RPS (planning consultants), BWB (structural engineer), CPW (services engineers) and Glen Kemp (landscape architect). Bowmer & Kirkland were the main contractor.

For more information on Church Lukas, see www.churchlukas.com.