Client: EastSide Property
Architect: OGU Architects + 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
Photographer: Joe Laverty
Statement from the architects:
Built: East was the winning design in a pavilion competition called The Belfast Flare, run by the Royal Society of Ulster Architects and JP Corry in 2017. Local organisation EastSide Property acted as client and kindly agreed to host the pavilion on a site at the Newtownards Road entrance to CS Lewis Square in East Belfast.
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 Ltd 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. Using prefabricated elements enabled rapid construction on site, which was important given the pavilion’s public location.
The pavilion consists of an Accoya trussed structure crafted by BPJ Group in Carryduff; a corten 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 CNC-ed and refined. The concrete mix also had to be developed during the process to make best use of the calcined clay.
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.