How Architecture Has Changed in Belfast
Immense change in attitudes among the people of Belfast since the Good Friday Peace Agreement have also had an impact on the city’s architecture. Whether the change is largely physical or cultural is immaterial, although it has to be said that feelings brought about by attitude change will often be mirrored in the physical environment.
During the troubles, people painted murals on the sides of buildings, and these have now become cultural icons. The murals speak to the changing attitudes in the city of Belfast. The architecture of recent years has transformed the city’s external spaces in the same way as the Peace Agreement transformed the inner life of its people.
Finished in 2012 by Hackett Hall McKnight, the Mac began life as a commission arising from the International Design Contest of 2007. The building was designed to hold art galleries along with space for performances, both dramatic and musical, along with all the necessary facilities. The Mac’s foyers offer a meeting place for the public, a space that mirrors Belfast’s street environment and architecture.
The bricks and concrete that are so much a part of the urban environment are mirrored in the Mac’s external and internal construction. The Architectural Association awarded the Mac the 2013 Downes medal for a single project.
The centenary of the sinking of the Titanic was remembered in Belfast through the creation of a museum dedicated to the memory of the victims, and to the ship that was built in this city. The Titanic Museum was built on Belfast’s old shipyard; its design, by Civic Arts, a memorial to the White Star Liners in general, and the Titanic in particular.
The Titanic Belfast is a huge museum, celebrated in the modern technology that would have been unthinkable at the time the ship was built. The museum occupies 12,000 square metres of space and holds plenty of opportunity for visitor interaction. The most popular feature of a visit to the museum is the video journey that guides visitors around the different floors of the ship, which at the time, was divided by class.
The Waterfront Hall in Belfast is a multi-purpose centre that offers both entertainment and facilities for conferences, and has been rated the second best conference centre in the world. First conceived in 1989, the building was not completed until 1997, and is therefore an integral part of post-peace agreement Belfast. The building was designed by the local architectural company of Robinson Mcllwaine.
The Waterfront Hall is situated on Lanyon Place, which is itself named after the respected Belfast architect, Charles Lanyon. The building has a small studio that has a seating capacity of 380, while its main auditorium has space for more than 2,000 people. Internal changes among the people of Belfast since the post Good Friday agreement are reflected in its more recent architectural projects, all of which are well worth a visit.