The restoration of McMaster Street was undertaken by Hearth Historic Buildings Trust and Clanmill Hearth Heritage Division in order to transform listed derelict Belfast terraces into social housing. The unusual terrace was the only example of Belfast’s polychrome artisan dwellings, and care was taken throughout the scheme that whilst energy efficiency was key in creating comfortable warm homes, the character of the buildings should not be compromised.
The six two up two down houses were part of a larger typical Victorian terraced street. The decision was taken to knock two of the six houses into one in order to create one 3 bed spacious home, which had the additional benefit of creating substantial gardens when the two yards were combined.
Part of this project was to explore retrofit measures that could encourage owners to retain rather than demolish older buildings. A number of different types of insulation were used in the properties and residents were encouraged to monitor their home’s energy performance with the objective of ascertaining which insulation performed best in the historic building fabric. Underfloor heating was added and when reinstating the sash windows, argon filled double glazing was used for improved thermal efficiency. Heat recovery systems were also installed.
The project led to an 18 month study of the buildings which has offered some valuable insights into the performance of various systems in solid brick houses, and which has been of benefit to professionals and members of the public.
The project has served to reinvigorate the street by bringing new life into the area and has left a lasting legacy in demonstrating what increased efficiency and positive impact can be achieved by taking a technical but sensitive approach to heritage buildings.