Ashburne House, Sunderland

Residential Architecture


Ashburne House, Sunderland


Ashburne House is Grade II listed, large classical villa, designed by an unidentified Architect. The dwelling was originally built for Edward Backhouse, of the family banking firm of Backhouse & Co, between 1819-22. The property is set in ornamental grounds on the original outskirts of Sunderland in Ashbrooke, an area characterised by high quality residential properties. The building is a prominent feature overlooking Backhouse Park, a major public green space in Sunderland, to the South of the property.

The building was bequeathed to Sunderland Corporation in 1922 and in 1934 the house opened as a College of Art. The College of Art became part of the University of Sunderland in 1996 before the faculty was relocated to the City Centre Campus in 2012. Ashburne House was advertised for sale in 2015 and sat derelict, subject to vandalism for a number of years.

New owners acquired the building, in a bid to provide a sustainable future for Ashburne House. BDN were appointed to lead the £1m restoration project, acting as architects and engineers, converting the listed building into a mixed-use development of contemporary office space for the client and three high end family homes.

A number of historic 1920s and 1960s extensions to the site significantly impacted the original building. The buildings prominence was substantially overshadowed by inappropriate extensions of a greater size, uncharacteristic materials and comparatively poorer quality construction, which were ultimately judged as not ideal for conversion.


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