Campaign to save Dunelm House from demolition exceeds fundraising target

By Clara Gaspar

The Save Dunelm House campaign has successfully raised £8,383, exceeding their £7,250 target.

213 supporters donated to the cause over the course of 28 days.

On their website, the Save Dunelm House team thanked their supporters and expressed the following campaign strategy:

“The money raised will be used to help run an event, bringing together designers and engineers to test viable alternatives to the proposed demolition of Dunelm House and will help publicise the campaign through a website, exhibition and publication.”

Since exceeding their target, the campaign has set a new aim to raise £12,000, which would allow the campaign to “pay a basic stipend to all the teams participating to help their costs and overheads.”

On their Crowdfunder website, the Save Dunelm House team wrote that “£12,000 would allow us to cover a small basic fee to each team. It will also allow us to increase the publication run and reach a wider audience.”

The campaign was originally created last October when the Durham Students’ Union voted to support the University’s plan to demolish Dunelm House.

Durham University appealed to the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport for immunity from Dunelm House’s listed status, noting its state of disrepair would present excessive renovation costs. The University has estimated that repairs would cost £14.7 million.

As Palatinate has previously reported, the Assembly noted its belief that Dunelm House is “unfit” for the SU, with its lack of lifts rendering it inaccessible for many students.

The lack of sufficient interior space “necessary for student groups to hold regular meetings, activities and events” was underlined.

Additionally, Assembly stated that the building’s state renders it dysfunctional for continued use, noting “a leaky roof, damp and mould.”

However, the Save Dunelm House campaign group has maintained restoration would be cheaper than a rebuild.

Supporters of the maintenance of Dunelm House stressed the necessity of action to preserve the building;

“The application continues to be appealed by the Twentieth Century Society, but given the Department for Culture Media and Sport’s track record and prejudice against modernist architecture a positive outcome is unlikely.”

On their website, Save Dunelm House wrote:

“We are launching a crowdfunding campaign to support the campaign to save Dunelm House from demolition. Building on the resounding support we gathered through our petition last year (3200 signatures, and rising), we are planning a series of events to gather evidence and build a case for the retention and creative reuse of Dunelm House.

Dunelm House is a brutalist build and was completed in 1966 by engineer Ove Arup and the Architects’ Co-Partnership.

Arup originated from Heaton, Newcastle Upon-Tyne, and is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest engineers of the 20th century, hence the attachment of many Durham citizens to his work.

As well as designing Dunelm House and Kingsgate Bridge, he was the design engineer for the Sydney Opera house. His ashes were scattered from Kingsgate bridge after his death in 1988.

Highlighting the merits of the structures, the Save Dunelm House campaign state:

“Kingsgate and Dunelm House are physically connected, as a marriage of structures that depend upon each other.

“This makes Dunelm House and Kingsgate Bridge two of the most significant structures in the UK, if not Europe, if not the World! And they are on our doorstep in Durham. Why would you want to lose or damage either?”

Photograph: Tom Parnell via Flickr Creative Commons

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