Three Tuns Student Residences

This ambitious student residential scheme in the heart of the historic Durham City, designed by SPACE for Three Tuns Developments Ltd, combines the imaginative conversion of the former Three Tuns Hotel complex with new purpose-built accommodation to provide a unique and holistic facility with a total of 168 student study bedrooms and studios along with associated kitchens, lounges and social spaces.

The scheme has fully restored, remodelled and refurbished the existing heritage buildings as well as creating three new build blocks to provide high quality facilities for the students in residence on this site rich with history.

A coaching inn is known to have occupied the premises for hundreds of years. The earliest detailed plan is a town plan of 1861 and this shows the Three Tuns Public House occupying two former C18th town houses and a building to the south. The Three Tuns continued to expand and develop over the years and traded more or less continuously as a bar and hotel until its relatively recent decline and closure in 2013.

The full site, located in the Durham City Centre Conservation Area, stretches from the Grade II Listed no.1 Old Elvet at its north end, to the vacant frontage adjacent to the Police station at its south as well as east from New Elvet to the boundary with Elvet Methodist Church. The site encompasses all the floors above ground within 1-9 New Elvet, the historic buildings that form the earlier phases of the Three Tuns Hotel (also Grade II Listed) and the later additions at the interior of the site, e.g. the former Princess Ballroom and its own 1970s extension.

The new build blocks are linear in form (following the lines of the medieval burgage plots that once occupied the site) and have differing roof heights. This roofscape respects the massing of the existing buildings across the site and has been carefully refined to allow key views of the World Heritage Site to be maintained. New landscaped courtyards were formed between the new blocks and existing buildings.

SPACE Director David Coundon commented, “The renovation of the prominent and historic Three Tuns Hotel breathes new life into this area of the City.  The scheme provides a sympathetic function in order to bring these much-loved redundant buildings back into use whilst also reinstating the former street frontage to New Elvet.”

Simon Williams, Director of Three Tuns Development Ltd further remarked, “The proposals developed by the SPACE team show a good mix of study rooms, studio rooms and individual, cluster and communal facilities… provided across the new and existing buildings on this sensitive site within the Conservation Area. By rationalising the layout of the new blocks, we feel that the architect maximised the quality of the internal and external spaces.”