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Heneghan Peng's Giant's Causeway scheme finally opens doors

Heneghan Peng’s £18.5 million Giant’s Causeway visitor centre scheme has opened to the public – almost seven years after the practice originally landed the project

The Dublin-based outfit won the contest to design the building close to the site of one of Ireland’s most popular attractions back in October 2005.

Housing exhibition space, toilets and a shop, the grass-roofed centre replaces a previous structure which burned down in 2000.

Controversially the Heneghan Peng designs for the 1,800m² low-lying building within the Unesco World Heritage Site were shelved in 2007 after the Northern Irish government pulled its funding and threw its weight behind a cheaper, privately funded visitor facility on a neighbouring site (see below).

However the practice’s scheme was resurrected and subsequently bolstered by cash injections from project backer the Northern Irish Tourist Board (NITB) and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Giant's Causeway visitor centre by Heneghan Peng (opened 3 July 2012)

Source: Marie Louise Halpenny

Giant’s Causeway visitor centre by Heneghan Peng (opened 3 July 2012) - interior

Project team

Structures: Arup
Building Services: Bennett Robertson
Quantity Surveyor/PM: Edmond Shipway
Facade Engineering: Dewhurst MacFarlane
Planning: Turley Associates
Civils: White Young Green
Landscape: Heneghan Peng Architects (Concept design) Mitchell + Associates (Implementation)
Exhibition Design: Event
Specialist Lighting: Bartenbach Lichtlabor

Previous story (AJ 23.03.2010)

Cash hurdle cleared for Heneghan Peng’s Giant’s Causeway scheme

Heneghan Peng is celebrating a £9.25 million cash injection to help build its proposed Giant’s Causeway visitor centre – almost five years after winning the original design contest

Project client, the Northern Irish Tourist Board (NITB), secured funding for a series of first phaseworks including new cars parks, toilets and catering facilities at the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site.

The news, which effectively means construction work can begin later this year, comes just two months after the £18.5 million scheme won £3 million of Heritage Lottery Funding

A second stage of work will also see the restoration of the Causeway headland, purpose-built visitor facilities, improved trails and paths across the site, and detailed information on the geological processes that created the feature.

The move follows the signing of an agreement between NITB and the National Trust, with the funding representing 50 per cent of the overall project cost.

Alan Clarke, chief executive of NITB, said: ‘The Giant’s Causeway is the jewel in the crown of NITB’s Causeway Coast & Glens Signature Project. NITB funding of £9.25 million, and 50% of total project cost of £18.5 million, will allow the building of the new visitor facilities to commence very shortly.

‘NITB funding has been given on the basis of developing Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site and number one tourist attraction to provide a world-class tourism offering, which will interpret the Causeway and the wider region.”

Preliminary works will begin in May and retail and tourist information will be relocated to the Causeway Hotel.

Off-site works will provide for park and ride facilities in nearby Bushmills. In autumn 2010, the main build will commence with the new visitor centre completed by summer 2012.

Heneghan Peng landed the contest back in October 2005.

Previous story (AJ 22.01.2010)

£3m HLF grant to kickstart Heneghan Peng’s Giant’s Causeway visitor centre

Heneghan Peng’s £18.5 million scheme for the redevelopment of the visitor’s facilities at Giant’s Causeway has finally won the Heritage Lottery Funding needed to start building

Construction work on the Dublin-based practice’s competition-winning scheme for a visitor centre close to the site of one of Ireland’s most popular attractions will begin in a matter of weeks.

Roisin Heneghan of Heneghan Peng said: ‘This is excellent news. This project is so important to one of Ireland’s landmark sites’.

The proposals for the centre, which will be hidden from the coast by a grass roof, will include improvements to footpaths and protection for the 3km stretch of coastline.

The National Trust site, which boasts 40,000 interlinked basalt columns extending into the sea, is home to peregrine falcons, seals and other wildlife.

A community project bringing schools and universities to the World Heritage site is also being developed as part of the funding overhaul.

Hilary McGrady, National Trust Director for Northern Ireland, said: ‘I am thrilled that Heritage Lottery Fund has so significantly supported this major project, which will see the Giant’s Causeway protected and a world-class visitor centre and experience put in place’.

She added: ‘This decision gives the project, and National Trust, a huge boost’.

Previous story (22.01.2010)

£3m HLF grant to kickstart Heneghan Peng’s Giant’s Causeway visitor centre

Heneghan Peng’s £18.5 million scheme for the redevelopment of the visitor’s facilities at Giant’s Causeway has finally won the Heritage Lottery Funding needed to start building

Construction work on the Dublin-based practice’s competition-winning scheme for a visitor centre close to the site of one of Ireland’s most popular attractions will begin in a matter of weeks.

Roisin Heneghan of Heneghan Peng said: ‘This is excellent news. This project is so important to one of Ireland’s landmark sites’.

The proposals for the centre, which will be hidden from the coast by a grass roof, will include improvements to footpaths and protection for the 3km stretch of coastline.

The National Trust site, which boasts 40,000 interlinked basalt columns extending into the sea, is home to peregrine falcons, seals and other wildlife.

A community project bringing schools and universities to the World Heritage site is also being developed as part of the funding overhaul.

Hilary McGrady, National Trust Director for Northern Ireland, said: ‘I am thrilled that Heritage Lottery Fund has so significantly supported this major project, which will see the Giant’s Causeway protected and a world-class visitor centre and experience put in place’.

She added: ‘This decision gives the project, and National Trust, a huge boost’.

Previous story (29.11.07)

Heneghan Peng could win reprieve at Giant’s Causeway

Heneghan Peng’s beleaguered Giant’s Causeway visitor centre project in Northern Ireland has been thrown a lifeline by the National Trust (NT).

In September, the AJ reported that the £21 million scheme had been shelved after the Northern Irish government pulled funding and threw its weight behind a cheaper, privately funded visitor facility on a neighbouring site (AJ 13.09.07).

But now, the NT – which owns the famous Causeway stones – has formed a joint venture with Moyle Council – which owns the site of the proposed project – to push through a new scheme in a move that could see the revival of Heneghan Peng’s designs.

A NT spokesman said that the joint venture had the backing of the province’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry (DETI) and confirmed that Dublin-based Heneghan Peng was back in the running.

The spokesman said: ‘Their scheme meets the various criteria and yes, this is a lifeline for Heneghan Peng.

However, Heneghan Peng founder, Shih-Fu Peng said he was not holding his breath.

He said: ‘It’s a soap opera and mired in politics. We’ve been told to stay low and not to say anything.

‘We wanted to have this project designed three years ago.

‘Now it will cost 10 times as much and we don’t even know what it will look like.’

Readers' comments (1)

  • The Lyric, Belfast - O'Donnell & Tuomey
    The Mac, Belfast - Hall McKnight
    Giants Causeway Visitors Centre - Heneghen Peng

    All three of these building I would expect to be nominated for the Stirling prize, with the Mac and the Causeway centre most likely to be nominated in 2013.

    Its great to finally see fantastic buildings that put Northern Ireland on the architectural map, its been too long.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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