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Durham Castle

Situated within the prestigious 11th-century Grade I listed Durham Castle, PHP’s design transformed a vacant and deteriorating space into a newly established café. Though envisioned to be modern and refreshing, we equally designed with sensitivity towards the site’s heritage and faithfully protected the original features with detailed Point Cloud surveys and fabric investigations.

Maximising the natural light in the space was essential for an inviting atmosphere, but, for example, we had to recognise that the site’s listed status prohibited new openings in the historic fabric. To create a contemporary aesthetic, we explored a modest material palette and updated cladding designs – both of which complement the warm tones and undulating textures of the existing stonework.

As the site was rather tight, we also navigated how to ensure the bespoke bar was equipped with all necessities for catering to visitors’ needs, and an external decked area (with bistro style seating) was included to accommodate the spilling of the café’s seating out onto the courtyard. As a project involving both size and heritage-related restrictions, the eventual award-winning nature of the build was only possible through close working relationships with the stakeholders and the Contractor – all of whom were an asset to the project.


Durham University






  • 2019 Design and Build Awards – Most Innovative Heritage Conversion