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Competition: Belfast Flare Pavilion

EastSide Visitor Centre and CS Lewis Square, Belfast
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The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) has launched a design contest for a £30,000 pop-up pavilion in east Belfast

Open to emerging architects working or born in Ireland or Northern Ireland, the competition seeks ‘beautiful, intriguing and inspirational’ proposals for a temporary or semi-permanent structure next to CS Lewis Square and the new EastSide Visitor Centre (pictured) by Hall McKnight Architects and Hall Black Douglas Architects.

The project, backed by timber merchant JP Corry, aims to draw attention to the role architecture could play in Belfast’s renaissance. The call for submissions comes almost a year after Aileen McConaghie of Shane Birney Architects won an earlier RSUA ideas contest for a temporary 250m² pavilion in central Belfast.

Commenting on the latest commission, RSUA director Ciarán Fox said: ‘The Belfast Flare Design Competition is about creating a temporary man-made structure of intrigue and inspiration – a place and space that both locals and visitors will want to experience.

‘While the project will be modest in scale, we believe it can help signal a shift toward a better-designed city and showcase the creative talents of younger architects from the island of Ireland.’

Chris McComb, specialist sales manager at JP Corry said: ‘The Belfast Agenda sets out the ambition of a city reimagined, beautiful, culturally vibrant and a place of innovation and creativity.

‘It’s a tall order but this project seeks to encapsulate that ambition is its own way. We are delighted to support the competition and are excited to see the wonderful ideas that will be brought forward.’

Maurice Kinkead, chief executive of EastSide Partnership said: ‘There has been so much progress made already in this area with the establishment of the EastSide Visitors Centre and CS Lewis Square.

‘This design competition provides the opportunity to enhance what we have by encouraging greater use of the outdoor space in all weather conditions. I think this structure can be another symbol of the renewed vibrancy of our city and particularly here in the east.’

Belfast City Council is working on a development strategy, known as the Belfast Agenda, which aims to promote innovation and shape regeneration up until 2035.

The EastSide Visitor Centre opened on Newtownards Road in the Holywood Arches area on the east side of the city last year. It features a coffee bar and interactive displays revealing the area’s attractions and history.

The neighbouring CS Lewis Square outdoor plaza is named after the Belfast-born writer and features sculptures of characters from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The latest commission aims to highlight the importance of design in creating a liveable and sustainable city and support the ambitions of the Belfast Agenda.

Proposals will be expected to deliver an appealing space for both visitors and locals while also considering the sustainability and carbon footprint of materials used.

The winning scheme, to be announced on 27 October, will be constructed on one of two sites next to the visitor centre by March 2018 and kept there until at least October that year. Applications must include visuals and a 1,500-word project description.

The deadline for submissions is 15 October.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Gillian Lendrum, RSUA

Email: Gillian@rsua.org.uk



Ciarán Fox, RSUA director

Ciarán Fox, RSUA director

Ciarán Fox, RSUA director

Ciarán Fox, RSUA director

Why are your holding a competition for an new ‘flare’ pavilion in Belfast?

We are holding the Belfast Flare Design Competition because we believe that one small project can help kick start an enhanced role for architecture in the city and in Northern Ireland. It is about showcasing what a competition like this can generate – the fresh perspectives, the hidden talent, the ideas, the excitement and about tapping into the buzz of creative energy that is around Belfast at the moment.

What is your vision for the temporary or semi-permanent installation?

Ideally this competition will result in the construction of a place that is unique and is a joy to experience. We think this project can be a catalyst for the creation of temporary structures or meanwhile-use projects in towns across Northern Ireland.

There are two options for the site for this project. Both are adjacent to the EastSide Visitors Centre in East Belfast. Over the last year the whole area has been transformed with the establishment of CS Lewis Square and the visitors centre. However there is an opportunity to enhance engagement with the area by providing an uplifting sheltered space.

Contest site

Contest site

Contest site

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The competition has been directed at early career architects who were born on the island of Ireland or who are living on the island. Over the last ten years many young architects left our island to study, get a job or broaden their experiences and we are hoping that this competition will appeal to them as well as to the wealth of talent on home soil. It is perfect for emerging practices but equally for an architect working in a big practice who is looking for the opportunity to let loose.

We thought carefully about the definition of an early career architect and we wanted to recognise that for a lot of people their career in architecture is not a straight line of non-stop education and employment. Therefore rather than defining early career architects by age we have defined them as architects who have been actively in work as an architect for less than 15 years.

EastSide Visitor Centre, Belfast

EastSide Visitor Centre, Belfast

EastSide Visitor Centre, Belfast

The competition provides an excellent platform for talent. There will be a showcase of entrants at Architecture Night on 27th October and the winner will be revealed. Architecture Night is the biggest event in the calendar for architecture in Northern Ireland. This year the event will be held in a warehouse in the Titanic Quarter and we will be attempting to reflect some of the lessons learned from our Copenhagen Study trip on the occasion. Beyond the event itself media interest is expected to be considerable.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

While there are not any other design competitions on the horizon in Northern Ireland right now there has been a lot of positive work regarding public sector procurement in the first half of this year. The proposals which are yet to be ratified include the use of a number open design competitions each year, other procurements which are bid solely on the basis of quality where the fee is fixed by the client and a move away from design and build being the default procurement route.


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