"The greatest contribution modern architecture has made to the enjoyment of the medieval city" Prof. Douglass Wise

Dunelm House is a tour de force of contextual modernism. Perched on the banks of the Wear, the interlocking concrete tiers stack up the bank of the river gorge, in elegant reverence to the Grade I listed Durham Cathedral and the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the opposite bank. Completed in 1967, the students’ union building sits alongside Ove Arup’s Grade I listed Kingsgate Bridge, where it has stood for over 50 years.

The five-level concrete building was constructed between 1964 and 1966 by the river Wear to the designs of Richard Raines of the Architects’ Co-Partnership, under supervision of the partner Michael Powers. It connects to Ove Arup’s Kingsgate Bridge, which was constructed four years earlier. Arup acted as structural engineer and architectural advisor and is famously featured in a bust on one of the outside walls.

Positively reviewed at the time of its completion and has subsequently been praised many times over by critics alike the building has been allowed to fall into disrepair with a growing list of outstanding issues allowed to build up by Durham University.

Dunelm House is of local signifiance as one of last remaining Brutalist buildings in the North East of England.  Architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner called the block ’Brutalist by tradition but not brutal to the landscape… the elements, though bold, [are] sensitively composed’.

Architect: Architects Co-partnership

Engineer: Over Arup and Associates

Built: 1964-66


Winner Civic Trust award

Winner RIBA Bronze Medal 1966





We have been running a petition which is continually growing.  Please sign and leave your feedback. We will be sending the list of signatories and comment to Durham University on a regular basis.


Please write to the Vice Chancellor to voice your concern whether you are a current student, alumnus, Durhamite, lover of modernism or concrete fetishist.  Please make your point, but be polite at all times.  If you would like to share your letter with us (many have), please post it on twitter with the hastag #savedunelmhouse

Professor Stuart Corbridge
Vice-Chancellor and Warden
Durham University
Palatine Centre
Stockton Road
Durham, DH1 3LE


Please follow @savedunelmhouse and @scam_ne and share your comments and photos using the hashtag #savedunelmhouse