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Markland Klaschka named among Belfast arts centre competitors

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Up-and-coming London practice Markland Klaschka has been named on the shortlist in the competition to design the £16 million successor to the Old Museum Arts Centre (OMAC) in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

Two firms with local offices - Keppie Design and Hackett & Hall - were also among the finalists, along with RHWL's Arts Team and Glasgow-based Cameron Webster Architects, in the RIBA-organised competition which attracted more than 100 entries.

The announcement marks a significant milestone for the project to create two new theatres, a large visual arts exhibition area, dance studios and rehearsal rooms, which was first unveiled in early 2006.

Over the last year the original £9 million budget has slowly crept up (Search on for architect to design new Belfast arts centre However, it is still hoped the scheme will complete in 2010.

New-build project chief Anne McReynolds from the OMAC, which has been housed in a Georgian mansion at College Square North for the last 17 years, said she was pleased by the standard of the entries.

She said: 'Performance and visual arts are what best define a city's identity. Therefore it is important to build the right environment in which the highest quality and exciting fresh arts can continue to be incubated, developed and exported, as well as being accessible to all the people of the city - residents and visitors alike.'

It is hoped that a winner will be announced next month.

by Richard Waite

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