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Date: 28th June 2018

The transformation of a Victorian stableblock into a modern education centre has resulted in an industry award for the architects and thus recognition of the vision of the building's owners, Askham Bryan College.

Three years ago the York-based college took over the semi derelict building in Middlesbrough's Stewart Park - once home to stable boys and laundry maids - and began to plan its new life as a vibrant educational hub.

DSP Architects of York played a key role in turning that vision into reality and the college welcomed the first students to its Middlesbrough campus within the historic Stewart Park last September. The building is once more buzzing with life with young people studying animal management, equine and horticultural courses as an important step towards their future careers.

The work re-purposing the Grade 2 listed building received Heritage Lottery Fund support and has now been recognised by the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) which represents building control departments in England and Wales. DSP Architects received a “Highly Commended” citation in the Best Educational Building section of recent LABC Northern Building Excellence Awards. 

Judges praised the sensitive and innovative approach in preserving and enhancing a much loved community asset commenting:”Too often historic buildings are seen as a problem rather than an opportunity to create dynamic environments emphasising the unique qualities such buildings possess.”

Catherine Dixon, the college's Chief Executive,  said: “Our aim was to retain the character and historical significance of the building and use this as the inspiration and backdrop for a modern learning space. It needed to appeal to young people as a fun place to study with up to date facilities enabling them to optimise their learning opportunities. This is what has been achieved and I am delighted that DSP Architects have received recognition for their work.”

David Spencer, Principal, DSP Architects commented: “This was an ambitious but extremely rewarding project. We had to shoehorn modern educational facilities into what was a challenging space whilst retaining the integrity and history of the original structure. As part of the restoration we managed to incorporate many of the original features into the new building, including the floor and wall tiles from the old dairy, the cast iron columns of the stables and even the wooden kickboards in the stables - you can still see where horses have marked them with their hooves.”

He added: “It's an iconic building which needed a purpose, and its use by students studying land-based subjects could not be more appropriate. It has become a fully functioning campus attracting students from a wide catchment area. The careful restoration allows them a glimpse back in time and yet the modern additions – classrooms, laboratory, learning resource centre, lifts etc - set against the existing fabric all point to the future. It has been a rare privilege to have been the architect to such a scheme.”

DSP Architects have worked in partnership with Askham Bryan College on a number of occasions including designing the Animal Management Centre at the York campus, which saw them take the overall title for Best Educational Building in LABC awards in 2016.

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Askham Bryan College,
Askham Bryan,
YO23 3FR
01904 772277