It appears suddenly, emphatically and exotically
Northern Ireland RIBA Regional Award 2019
Hall McKnight for the Department for Infrastructure
Contract value: Undisclosed
A small transport hub on a busy Belfast road, a seemingly unremarkable brief in an equally unexceptional suburban context devoid of any sense of the civic. Through imagination and a sophisticated architectural language the architect has realised a remarkable if modestly scaled civic building. It appears suddenly, emphatically and exotically at the side of the busy Stewartstown Road. The building, albeit benefiting from a very generous budget, is constructed to last. It is effectively a double concrete shell, the inner tinted a pinkish terracotta, with thick granite cladding to all the elevations. The building form adopts a generous attitude to the community, convex facades to the new square to the north and to Stewartstown Road invite entry and engagement. Large red granite framed windows look out to hill and square respectively. The strength of the architecture will inevitably be tested as the building is more actively occupied by both client and community. Already signage and fittings outside the architect’s influence have begun to litter the internal spaces. Both building and architect are strong enough however not to be undermined by this accrual of the everyday. The building begs a simple question: Do communities on the periphery deserve civic buildings of stature, dignity and gravity? The response is a confident and accomplished work of architecture.
Regional Building of the Year (Liam McCormick Prize)
Regional Project Architect of the Year: Richard Dougherty