Henning Larsen's leisure-led Belfast masterplan inspired by Copenhagen harbour and Giant's Causeway
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We saw a truly special opportunity in this ambitious project to bring a Nordic understanding of outdoor living to Belfast
– Jacob Kurek, Henning Larsen partner

International architects Henning Larsen have won a hard-fought competition to design a 16-acre masterplan for the mammoth mixed-use Belfast Waterside development in the Northern Irish capital.

The firm will now develop the ambitious waterfront project to “repopulate the city of Belfast while reviving the potential of River Lagan – drawing inspiration from successful harbour front developments in Copenhagen.”

It is set to become the single largest development in Belfast’s recent history, with the masterplan designed to create a “year-round vibrant community” complete with cultural venues, leisure and retail facilities, 750 homes, hotels and office spaces with a total built-up area of 1.7 m sqft. There will, according to the architects, be “a strong focus on generous public realms and attractive livable communities.”

“We saw a truly special opportunity in this ambitious project to bring a Nordic understanding of outdoor living to Belfast,” said Jacob Kurek, partner at Henning Larsen.

He added that the terraced stone landscape of the country’s Giant’s Causeway was a source of inspiration for the new urban development, “from the stepped massing of the buildings, the layout of the terraced landscape areas, to the use of stone and geometric patterns in outdoor surfaces and pavements.”

Lower buildings will be positioned towards the waterfront to reduce wind speed and guide winds over buildings instead of through the streets, “prolonging the number of weeks per year it’s comfortable to spend time outside from the current nine weeks to an impressive 25 weeks.”

Construction is set to begin in Q3 2018. The project is being developed by Swinford Sirocco Limited, privately owned by Vanguard Real Estate, and is scheduled for completion in 2022. Further details on the residential and co-working elements of the scheme will be revealed shortly, alongside proposals for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge.

Jim Osborne, director of Vanguard, said: “From Copenhagen, we know that harbours have an enormous potential to activate public life in a city. We are going to create the framework for people to feel part of a shared public life by River Lagan making it attractive to stay in the city. It will no longer create a barrier in Belfast but is going to connect it instead.”

The Waterside development is the latest in a series of large-scale leisure and residential masterplans taking shape in Northern Ireland. In June 2017, a consortium including British architects FaulknerBrowns was appointed as the preferred developer to regenerate Queen’s Parade in the seaside resort town Bangor, “to realise its full potential as a leisure and tourist destination.”

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International architects Henning Larsen have won a hard-fought competition to design a 16-acre masterplan for the mammoth mixed-use Belfast Waterside development in the Northern Irish capital.
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