Embracing Nordic concepts, plans have been approved for a disused area on the east bank of the River Lagan in Belfast, Ireland, to be transformed into a “year-round vibrant community”.
The Henning Larsen-designed Belfast Waterside development was officially granted planning approval by the Belfast City Council, after a year in the planning approval process. Located on the site of the former Sirocco Works, the project is set to “transform the 2.6-hectare area on the east bank of the River Lagan that has been disused for nearly two decades”.
Placing the public at the heart of the development, removing existing boundary walls and improving public access to a long-hidden corner of the city, the Belfast Waterside development takes on signature Nordic concepts. Jacob Kurek, partner at Henning Larsen explains that the team saw an opportunity to bring a Scandinavian understanding of outdoor living to Belfast in this ambitious project.
“From Copenhagen, we know that harbors and rivers have enormous potential to attract and activate public life in a city; River Lagan will no longer be a division in Belfast but a connection – a hub – instead,” says Jacob Kurek, partner at Henning Larsen.
Set to become the single largest development in Belfast’s recent history, once completed, the project joins the current ongoing process across Europe of regenerating abandoned waterfront. The 2.6 hectares waterfront site “aims to fully activate the potential of the River Lagan creating a year-round vibrant community”. The scheme will include cultural venues, leisure, and retail facilities, 750 homes, hotels, and office spaces with a total built-up area of nearly 158,000 m2.
“The scale-gradient strategy is the direct result of thermal microclimate analysis. […] By placing the tallest office buildings along the north, facing the railway, we will create a noise blocking acoustic barrier,” says Kurek. “The lower buildings facing south keep the riverfront pedestrian friendly and human-scaled. Every building gets a view of the water and good daylight – and people get a more comfortable setting at the ground level.”
Developed by Swinford Sirocco Limited, owned by Vanguard Real Estate, the design seeks to expand the comfortable outdoor season onsite from a mere nine weeks in the year to 25. Founding the design on a microclimate framework, Henning Larsen has drafted strategies “over the rooftops rather than through the streets”. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the lockdown eases, the project has greater impact, extending the comfortable outdoor season and generating safe public spaces.
“As the city starts to reopen and begin its journey to recovery, the development of Belfast’s Waterside will mark a significant step forward in Belfast’s regeneration,” Councilor John Hussey, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee. “The Belfast Waterside development will transform a key site that has been out of use since 1999 – providing new space for city centre living and high-quality office space, as well as much needed affordable housing units, ensuring it becomes a place for everyone.”
Via ArchDaily | Images courtesy of Henning Larsen