Boulevard Medical Centre: the Georgian Savile Hall with new extensions behind

Boulevard Medical Centre: reception area in the atrium at heart of the building

After: Moor Fall Farm transformed into Luty Cottages

54 years of celebrating, enhancing and safeguarding Halifax's built and natural environment.

David Hanson

The first 21 years

This year, Halifax Civic Trust's golden jubilee year, also marks the 21st year of the Halifax Civic Trust Awards. The awards were launched in 1992 to encourage high-quality design and craftsmanship in new building or the reuse of old buildings or other significant improvement to the fabric of the town or countryside of Halifax and have been given for a huge range of different projects over the first 21 years.

This range of award-winning schemes was well illustrated in the very first year, when accolades were given for the sympathetic conversion of the former Quaker meeting house at Clare Road to a day nursery, the imaginative fitting out of the new Pavilion Cafeteria at Halifax bus station, the conversion of a disused 19th-century warehouse in Horton Street, Halifax, into a furniture store, and the creation of an unusual moorland garden at Pule Green.

This approach has continued ever since, emphasising high quality in design and execution. Schemes since 1992 have ranged from a single new house at Green Park to the massive conversion to apartments of the Royal Halifax Infirmary; to the rescue of semi-derelict business premises such as the former Automated Standard Screw Company's factory in Causeway, Halifax, and Old Woolcombers' Mill in Union Street South and conversion to offices; from the sympathetic reordering of All Saints' Church, Skircoat Green, and Christ Church, Pellon, to the conversion of the old Park Road Baths to the King's Centre for the Calderdale Community Church.

The accolade has been given for alterations to Warley Town School and the building of Withinfields School at Southowram and the new Holy Trinity Primary School in Savile Park Road; for the restoration of the 16th-century Marsh Hall, Northow-ram, and the building of Upper Field House, also at Northowram, in the style of a traditional laithe house; for the conversion of New Mill, Wainstalls, and Garden Street Mill, New Bank, to flats, and the construction of new apartments at Fern Cottage, Stafford Avenue, Halifax.

Awards have been given for the restoration of both People's Park and Shibden Park and the renovation of the Crossleys' Victorian village, West Hill Park, between Gibbet Street and Hanson Lane; for the restoration of shopfronts in Westgate and Albion Street and the enclosing of Westgate by a cathedral-like arcade of steel and glass; for the conversion of semi-derelict houses in St James's Street, Halifax, into the Actor's Workshop Youth Theatre, and the building of the Electric Bowl in Commercial Street; for the conversion of the old Elsie Whiteley Mill in Hopwood Lane into the Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre and the building of new showrooms and workshops for Copley Motors in Wakefield Road, Halifax.

At Dean Clough, Halifax, awards were given for the conversion of part of D mill into the Design House and Crossley art galleries and the Design House Restaurant and also for the conversion of the former boiler house known as the Old Fire Station into offices. In 2001, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Halifax Civic Trust Awards, a special award was made to the then Halifax Building Society's landmark headquarters building in Trinity Road, Halifax, opened by the Queen in 1974, before the awards scheme was introduced.


The 2012 Halifax Civic Trust Awards

Altogether 59 awards were made in the first 20 years and, happily, schemes of high quality continue to emerge, in spite of the difficult economic conditions. In this, the 21st year of the awards, 13 schemes were nominated and on a hectic viewing day in March trust members visited 10 of them, leading to the following four awards:

Halifax Civic Trust Award: the Boulevard Medical Practice's new health centre in Savile Park Road.

Highly commended: Calderdale College's new Inspire, Centre in Francis Street, Halifax.

Highly commended: the conversion of Moor Fall Farm, Ploughcroft Lane, Halifax, into seven cottages.

Commended: extension to St Jude's Church, Free School Lane, Halifax.


Boulevard Medical Centre: Halifax Civic Trust Award

This year's main Halifax Civic Trust Award goes to the Boulevard Medical Practice's health centre in Savile Park Road, which is housed in a refurbished Georgian mansion, Savile Hall, and a large extension on the west and north sides. The mansion, which until 2007 was the home of Holy Trinity Junior School, looks down that section of Savile Park Road known locally as the Boulevard, which once had a row of trees running down its centre.

The medical centre, which opened in August 2011, is the new home of the Heath House Surgery in Free School Lane. The practice had been seeking to expand for some time and had looked at around half a dozen sites before settling on the former Savile Hall. The hall was erected in around 1830 as an extension to the adjoining original hall of 1726, which is separately owned.


The Georgian hall is a listed building in the Savile Park Conservation Area but for its new role as a health centre it would require a major extension. The practice chose brp architects, of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, who have designed more than 50 health centres throughout the country, and after much discussion with Calderdale Council planners and conservation officials it was decided, in the architects' words "that the extensions should be contemporary, reflecting the locality in the choice of materials".


School extensions dating from the 1960s were demolished and damage to the listed building made good. The new extension was then built, mainly out of sight behind the Georgian building and connected to it with "ribbons of curtain walling being used to lightly join the old and new". The new fabric is a mixture of redressed old stone, new stone and reconstituted stone, as the architects describe it, "an interplay of materials carefully selected to sit comfortably with the local and listed building in a contemporary way".

Internally the architects have created a modern, functional building in keeping with its role as a medical centre, both in the newly-built extension and in the old hall. In the latter some features have been retained, such as the main staircase. Others are hidden behind dropped ceilings, necessary to accommodate modern service and computer systems and to comply with hygiene regulations.

At the heart of the centre, at the meeting point of old and new, is a two-storey atrium, top lit to provide an open, airy and welcoming reception area. The lines are contem-porary, clean and sharp, with a bright colour scheme that combines subtle apple white walls with strong shades of purple in carpets, furnishings and on one wall. From here all parts of the centre can be reached, in the old building and the new; there are nine consulting rooms, three treatment rooms, a health education room and a variety of staff accommodation, from offices to meeting room, library, kitchen and toilets.

Upstairs the rear wall of the old building is breached in two places to allow passage to and from the new, and internal windows enable users to look down into the ground floor of the atrium. There is a lift for centre users. There is also a pharmacy, positioned beside the main entrance, which is at the side of the old hall so as not to disrupt the Georgian facade, which, with only the most minor alterations, looks much as it did before.

Architecturally the Boulevard Medical Centre is an extremely successful merger of old and new, a skilful creation of a sizeable, modern building while successfully retaining undamaged the spirit of the old Georgian mansion.

Calderdale College: Inspire Centre: Highly commended

Sheffield-based architects Jefferson Sheard were commissioned, in their own words, "to deliver an exciting yet cost-effective design for a new learning resource centre and sports facilities" for Calderdale College in Francis Street, opposite the Percival Whitley Building. At a glance the result looks very much in tune with the current design fashion for institutional buildings, with bold shapes and bright colours, but the Inspire Centre is lifted from the ordinary by a clever twist that turns what might have been an unpleasantly large slab facing Francis Street to what is, in effect, a series of linked "pavilions" in a variety of forms and finishes.

The development is centred on an entrance block set at 90 degrees to the rest of the development, approached via steps and a piazza from Francis Street and marked with a simple, attached tower which carries the college's bright, four-colour logo. The entrance block is an atrium, providing ground floor entrance with high security and stairs to the rest of the development which, because of the fall of the site is all set at, in effect, first-floor level.

From the atrium you either turn right and walk north towards the sporting half of the development, or turn left and walk south to the new teaching block. Building started at the north end, with the full-sized, six-court sports hall, which is the only one of the four "pavilions" to have a curved, rather than flat roof. The hall is configured for as many as eight sports, from tennis and badminton to five-a-side soccer and basketball, and there are cricket nets and a climbing wall. Part of the floor has been reinforced to enable it to support bleacher seating in the future.

Between the sports hall and the atrium is the second of the four pavilions. At its heart is a wide, airy and top-lit corridor, referred to as the sports atrium, which is big enough to hold events and presentations. On the west side of the sports atrium, facing the old, now closed former Princess Mary School buildings, are eight changing rooms, including rooms designed for use by disabled people. An exit leads to a new full-sized, floodlit, all-weather pitch. On the opposite, east-facing side of the sports atrium, are a dance studio and fully-equipped fitness suite. These two large spaces facing Francis Street are fully glazed as a deliberate showcase for fitness, an attempt to motivate students into taking up healthy activity.

Passing through the central atrium the main entrance is to the left, while on the right, facing the old Princess Mary buildings, is a learning resource centre, packed full with

IT hardware. Beyond the atrium is the fourth pavilion, the new teaching block, on two floors, with laboratories for general science, animal care and management, horticulture and sports science plus general teaching rooms, staff rooms and toilets.

Visually the four "pavilions" are all very different in form and cladding, from plastic-covered panelling to rainscreen cladding, glazing, stone and render, yet are unified in the use of Wedgwood blue in various forms, from the panels that cover the walls of the sports hall to the blue "trim" of the fitness/dance block and the teaching block.


Several principles have informed the design of the Inspire Centre, among them the desire for plenty of circulation space - known as "breakout" space - for example, the generously sized sports atrium corridor, the wide open space of the piazza on the Francis Street side and a secure courtyard on the opposite, west side of the development.

Second, flexibility. Many of the teaching spaces have been designed for possible future curriculum changes, so that, for example, laboratories have as few fixtures as possible and flexible furnishings and could be given over to different subject areas as needed. The sports hall and outdoor pitch are available for community use in the evenings and at weekends.

Third, sustainability. Both in construction and in use the Inspire Centre has been designed to avoid waste. For example, despite the fall in site levels excessive excavation was avoided to mitigate the cost of removing and transporting waste and landfill costs in dumping it. Expensive air-conditioning has been avoided; instead air quality control is achieved through heating-reflecting glass and in some windows automatic ventilation controlled by carbon dioxide sensors. The teaching block has energy-efficient rainscreen cladding.

The Inspire Centre development, which also included the refurbishment of the entrance, reception and refectory areas of the Percival Whitley building across Francis Street, was opened in October 2011 by Yorkshire and former England bowler Ryan Sidebottom. These developments constitute phases one and two of a three-stage development on the west side of Francis Street; the third will be an environmental and sustainable technologies centre which is intended to incorporate solar heating technologies.

Halifax Civic Trust was impressed with the the dynamic and vibrant design of the Inspire Centre and especially with the college's and architects' emphasis on sustainability, from flexibility of space to energy efficiency.


Luty Cottages, Moor Fall Farm: Highly commended

This rescue of a semi-derelict farmhouse and conversion to seven cottages was car-ried out by Halifax building surveyors and architectural designers Philip S Ryley and Co. for the Leo Group, of Swalesmoor Road, Halifax. The farmhouse at Ploughcroft Lane, with stunning views southwards towards Halifax, had been empty for many years until they were acquired by the Leo Group. The building history appears vague but it seems that the property consisted of two linked cottages and adjoining barn and pigsties, although they had been much altered over time. The property was deemed uninhabitable; the roofs on the barn and pigsties had partly or wholly collapsed and the whole was described as little more than a shell and in parts unstable.


Calderdale College Inspire Centre: four "pavilions" with, from left, the teaching block, reception atrium, fitness and dance studios and sports hall.

Calderdale College Inspire Centre: the central atrium, with main entrance, security barriers and stairs to the rest of the complex

Before: the semi-derelict Moor Fall Farm with barn and pigsties

The Leo Group acquired the property in 2006 but because it lies in the green belt careful negotiations had to be carried out with Calderdale Council planners as to what alterations could be made. Finally Ryley embarked on a wholesale renovation, which involved partial rebuilding of some walls, reroofing, adding a second floor to the pigsties, inserting new window openings as required, stonecleaning and completely refitting the interiors. A motley collection of outbuildings was demolished and an area south of the properties landscaped to create grassed areas in front of the cottages and a large tarmacked car park.

The result is a row of attractive, typical Pennine cottage properties of varying sizes which are being let, rather than sold. The houses have been named Luty Cottages after the family of pig farmers who once lived there. This is a typical Ryley rescue which has given new life to honest, down-to-earth properties which in another age might well have been demolished. The scheme is highly commended for saving these buildings in a way which entirely respects their vernacular origins.


St Jude's Church: extension: Commended

St Jude's Church, in Savile Park, Halifax, has built a small extension to house much-needed toilets. They replace an existing, single lavatory at the east end of the church down a flight of stone steps, which was inaccessible for disabled people. The church considered several alternatives before opting for the eventual solution, including alterations inside the church to include a kitchen as well as toilets, and a more ambitious scheme to build an extension across the full width of the west end. St Jude's Church is a listed building, grade 2, and in the Savile Park Conservation Area, so any addition would have to be executed to a high standard, and the "west end" scheme proved to be prohibitively expensive.

Instead the church opted for a more modest extension situated immediately east of the church's imposing tower, which also provides the main entrance to the building on its main facade facing Free School Lane. The congregation was keen that the new building should be of high quality and appropriate to the listed building and architect Peter Langtry-Langton, of Langtry-Langton Architects, of Bradford, designed a block that matches exactly the existing fabric with regularly coursed, rock-faced stone with high-quality ashlar features, including a moulded horizontal course near to ground level, window surrounds, cornice, gable copings and kneeler and with a lean-to roof of Westmorland slate.

Internally the limited space provides one toilet for men and disabled people and one for women, with baby-changing facilities. The entrance, conveniently for visitors, is from the eastern side of the south porch, under the tower. The interior finish is of equally high quality to the exterior with tiled walls, cream and white colour scheme and distinctive steel-finish wall heaters. St Jude's Church extension is commended especially for the high quality of the materials and workmanship involved.


St Jude's Church: toilet extension in style of the 1890 church