OGU Architects with Donald McCrory Architects have designed a pop-up pavilion in East Belfast’s Newtownards Road referencing the area’s industrial heritage
The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) with JP Corry launched the design contest for the £30,000 pavilion in 2017.
Called The Belfast Flare and open to emerging architects working or born in Ireland or Northern Ireland, the competition sought ‘beautiful, intriguing and inspirational’ proposals for a temporary or semi-permanent structure next to CS Lewis Square and the new EastSide Visitor Centre by Hall McKnight Architects and Hall Black Douglas Architects.
EastSide Property acted as client for this project, agreeing that the pavilion, which was designed by Belfast-based practices OGU Architects and Donald McCrory Architects, could be built on a site at the entrance to the CS Lewis Square just by Newtownards Road.
The materials and structure of the scheme make reference to the industrial heritage of the Newtownands Road. The scheme incorporates a Belfast truss, which was common used in the roofs of the city’s largest factories, while the whole scheme is an assemblage of three elements, all made in a local factory. The trussed structure is constructed out of Accoya. The pavilion’s concrete ‘feet’ were cast with a calcinated clay powder to give them a pale pink colour.
The use of prefabricated elements enabled rapid construction on site, which was necessary, given the public location of the building as a route into CS Lewis Square.
The joinery and roof required full-size prototypes to be manufactured and tested during the design process.
The commissioning of the project aimed to highlight Belfast City Council’s development strategy, known as the Belfast Agenda, which aims to promote innovation and shape regeneration in the city.
The Newtownards Road area has a rich industrial heritage that we wanted to celebrate. To us, the Belfast truss represents the area’s history of manufacturing ingenuity. Many of the city’s largest factories had such a roof, including the Belfast Ropeworks, which used to face the pavilion site. In fact, Belfast trusses were made just down the road at D Anderson & Son, which was located in the Lagan Felt Works.
Even though this is a project referencing history, it was important to us that this would not be a nostalgic look backwards, but an opportunity to draw attention to emerging construction innovation in Northern Ireland. As the design became more detailed, it became an assembly of three elements, each crafted in a local factory, and each requiring a process of testing and development.
The pavilion consists of an Accoya trussed structure crafted by BPJ Group in Carryduff; a Cor-ten steel roof manufactured by Fabrite in Lisburn; and concrete footings cast by Moore Concrete Products in Ballymena. The concrete uses a calcined clay powder developed and produced by banah UK in Coleraine. Each company was faced with the challenge of creating something that was sensitive to the heritage of local factory structures, while also being something that had never been done before with today’s machinery. In the case of the joinery and the roof, this required 1:1 prototypes to be CNCed and refined.
Aiming at the start to draw attention to local innovation, we discovered through the process that this inventiveness is dependant on a rich history of craftsmanship in Belfast’s workshops and factories. It is no coincidence that the pavilion took on the likeness of the factory workshops that made its components: it seemed fitting that the RSUA’s first pavilion should applaud the often invisible talent that Northern Irish construction relies upon.
OGU Architects and Donald McCrory Architects
Client EastSide Property, Royal Society of Ulster Architects
Architect OGU Architects and Donald McCrory Architects
Structural engineer OCSC Belfast
Main contractor Farrans Construction
Joinery and timber structure BPJ Group
Roof manufacturer Fabrite
Precast concrete Moore Concrete Products, Banah UK