Henning Larson Architects will develop the Belfast Waterfront anchored in local culture and legend. 40,000 interlocked basalt columns and the story of a giant lead the way to a new identity for the Northern Irish capital.
North of Belfast you will find the legendary landscape The Giant’s Causeway. A mythical landscape as well as one of Northern Irelands most visited destinations. The landscape serves as a source of inspiration for our masterplan for The Belfast Waterside developing a 16-acre former Brownfield-site in the capital into a vibrant city district 24/7. The urban development is the largest in the city’s recent history. It will serve to regenerate both the city’s economy and the larger economy of Northern Ireland.
On the eastern bank of the River Lagan, only 10 minutes from Belfast city center, Henning Larson introduce the city to a new version of outdoor life inspired by the Scandinavian tradition of living close to nature. Here people will be able to stay outdoor along the river feeling part of a greater community. At the same time, The Belfast Waterside is deeply rooted in local culture.
The landscape The Giant’s Causeway with its 40.000 basalt columns has been a source of inspiration for the new urban development by River Lagan. Legend has it that the landscape was created by the giant Finn mac Cumhaill who tore off large chunks of the Scottish Antrim coast to create a path into the sea he could use to pursue the Scottish giant Benandonner, who was threatening the country.
Making people feel seen and understood
At Henning Larsen, design solutions are always based on an understanding of local culture, climate, and history, solutions that integrate research-based knowledge into every stage of the design process.
“The Basalt columns have worked as a source of inspiration for the new urban development, from the rhythm in the stepped massing of the buildings, in the terraced landscape areas between buildings and in the geometric patterns on outdoor surfaces and pavements. Local anchoring gives immense value to architecture. When people instinctively sense a local reference they feel seen and understood.”
Local resonance is particularly important when it comes to creating comfort and quality of life in dense city districts where life is high-paced. Inspired by the rhythm of the basalt columns with the lowest volumes towards the waterfront, the architects secure optimal daylight conditions and views of the river. The approach creates a pleasant human scale for people who spend time on the waterfront now being activated by squares and open spaces. Simultaneously the tallest buildings are used to shield against traffic noise.
Micro climatically The Giant’s Causeway is also an inspiration. By shifting the building volumes and placing the lowest volumes towards the river, the architects guide the wind over buildings instead of through the streets. This creates outdoor comfort in Belfast’s harsh, windswept climate that otherwise makes it difficult to spend time outside for large parts of the year. Henning Larson estimate that this approach reduces wind speed prolonging the number of weeks per year it’s comfortable to spend time outside from the current 9 weeks to an impressive 25 weeks.
Construction of the 1.7 m sqft. begins summer 2018. The project is being developed by Swinford Sirocco Limited, who expects the project to be completed in the summer of 2022.
News and images via Henning Larson Architects