Scroll down for more

Palatine Centre

PH Partnership won the commission to design Durham University’s administrative headquarters against international competition. 5 years in the making, we executed an eventually multiple award-winning and BREEAM-rated ‘excellent’ building: the Palatine Centre.

To devise the design, we liaised closely with all university representatives (including departments and user groups), as well as a variety of planning and conservation groups. Our engagement was intrinsic to both a successful presentation to CABE and confirmation of planning approval. Further, working with these groups ensured that the final design provided bespoke solutions to expressed problems: the provision of reception desks, coffee stations, and adequate seating.

The concept was thus designed as a highly site-specific solution, with careful consideration of surrounding environmental factors. Accommodation is distributed around a central, spinal atrium which carves out a circulation route through the social spaces and landscaped courtyards at the building’s extremities.

Aesthetically, the Palatine is bold and distinctive, and we punctuated its form and shape to reduce scale, maximise natural daylight, and emphasise its surrounding views. By using our state-of-the-art 3D design technology, we were able to envision the whole project in context, in order to maximise the centre’s aspect across the city and guarantee stunning views of the Cathedral and Castle beyond.

We developed the build with a holistic approach to sustainability and renewable technologies and achieved an ‘excellent’ rating according to the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

Such a rating credited our incorporation of:

  • natural ventilation
  • air source heat pumps/heat recovery
  • water attenuation
  • solar thermal collectors
  • rainwater harvesting
  • sedum roofing
  • photovoltaics

In addition, we were sympathetic in our use of natural materials, which wrap the simple frame in a bold yet organic form, offering a unique and sustainable design solution that both softens the scale of the site and compliments its prominence. Finally, the project was imperative to the university’s Green Travel Plan and site-wide scheme to facilitate cycling, increase pedestrianisation, and reduce cars. Such a role makes the centre a substantial contributor to the university’s aim at carbon reduction.


Durham University




Stockton Road, Durham





  • Environmental Awards, Outstanding Award – Winner


  • Construction Excellence in North East Award for Integration and Collaborative Working – Winner


  • Constructing Excellence in the North East 2013, Project of the Year – Highly recommended


  • LABC Building Excellence Northern Awards 2013, Best Education Building – Winner















“Our architects, designers, and developers have done us proud
in creating a building we hope may be listed
in 50 years’ time and with environmental credentials fit for the 21st Century” –

Professor Chris Higgin, Vice-Chancellor, Durham University