The impressive architecture of the Giants Causeways Visitors Centre
Giants Causeway Tours take you to the Visitor Centre and those who visit will be offered two treats; the chance to learn about the Giant’s Causeway and the opportunity to see one of the most inspiring architectural projects of the 21st century. Designed by Heneghan & Peng, the Visitor Centre sits on the North Antrim coast near the gateway of the Giant’s Causeway, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best way to describe the building is as two folds that gently become part of the landscape. This is what makes the Visitor Centre so inspirational; the centre is part of the landscape and a separate entity all at once.
Slopes, Folds and Illusions
This very ‘green’ building was actually constructed into the existing landscape and comes up above the ground at a gentle slope that almost hides its very existence, depending on the angle you view it from. One fold of the centre turns upward, showing the top of the building, while the other folds down into the carpark, making it impossible to view as visitors drive up to the road from the coastal path. In the middle of the folds is a ramp that allows visitors to walk down to the ridge line to view the Giant’s Causeway from a restored coastal viewpoint.
The inside of the building is just as much of an illusion as the outside’s folds, as it is a series of differently levelled floor plates, that gently take visitors down the halls which are linked by ramps. Each ramp leads to a slightly different level that contains a different piece of history from the Causeway. This not only allows the building to be easily explored but also creates the illusion that visitors are exploring many different exhibits while never physically noticing a difference in the elevation. This allows for a much more fluid experience for visitors.
Near the main entrance the café is strategically open, to allow visitors to sit down with a hot drink and look out over the coastline. The end of the building lets visitors out on to the access road that will lead them directly to the stones. From the outside, visitors will be delighted by the fact that the building has a grass roof, which is incredibly impressive as it sits against basalt stone columns on the other fold. The grass roof also makes the building very sustainable, and this, along with other landscape design features, has earned the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating.