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New Queens Film Theatre, Belfast

Part 1 Project 2000
Aoife Keigher
Queen's University Belfast, UK
Belfast - a rich urban patchwork quilt. A unique city well accustomed to adapting to change. Belfast displays the increasingly common condition of the European city - few greenfield sites, as we the designers strive to integrate sensitively into the prevailing complex webs woven by our predecessors. My design for the Queen's University Film Theatre is the culmination of three years perseverance to keep architecture simple, relevant and amenable to the public. It is vital to examine, engage with and respond positively to the site, the context, the cultural microclimate as well as the bigger picture and most especially the people who presently and in future will use the space. The location is a prominent island site, hugged to the north by Ormeau Avenue, Belfast's Victorian fringe and the threshold between the central business district and the leisurely suburbia.
The film theatre presents itself as cedar clad masses atop brick blocks and the ground floor connects with the park and the monastery beyond by means of a colonnaded walkway. This simple urban device attracts the public into a legible ground floor space while shielding the privacy of the monastery from the public face of the cinema. Composed of two disparate brick blocks of varying size and function, unified by a flowing stone foyer, it meets my criteria for a multi-use space at ground level, with extreme clarity at an urban level and for people's use.
The building presents itself to the park as a rather formal composition, but suggests planarity and clarity in material specification of concrete primary for structural elements and cedar boarding. Simplicity and a limited palette of key quality materials, combined with generous amounts of natural daylight are prerequisites for any building as they present the user with a warm natural understated building to enjoy and appreciate. I am inspired by Scandinavian architects who exploit their northern light and indigenous timbers to create beautiful spaces. Here you can enjoy the views, the space, the light the comfort, the shelter, the materiality ad the sheer wonder of it all. The film theatre intends to be simple yet thoroughly resolved and affirms in my mind the success of ordinariness in architecture.

Aoife Keigher

This year Aoife was one of a number of Queens students whose work was notable for its persistence in pursuit of simple themes and spaces. Her design for a film theatre was an exercise in admirable restraint revealing a rare maturity for third year, degree level. The apparent simplicity of her project belied the effort and resolve necessary to create such a finely tuned term's work. Aoife is a student who healthily questions her own work at all levels and scales - her detail study into the lighting characteristics of particular spaces was delicately resolved. At the larger scale of an urban object the scheme was equally convincing as it presented itself to the city as a compact cluster of elements contained within two austere lattice-like colonnades – a project placed both successfully and knowingly into Belfast’s concise urban hierarchy. It was a deserved moment in her year when Helene Binet, a guest tutor, took three polaroids of one of her development models. Having now graduated with distinction, a leading practice in London is fortunate to have this talented student for her first year out in practice.

Alistair Hall Design Studio Tutor
Ian McKnight Technical / design development tutor
Alan Jones Year coordinator

Other guest tutors and critics : Helene Binet, Grainne Hassett, Glenn Howells, Prof Adrian Gale, Simon Fraser

• Page Hits: 2739         • Entry Date: 09 February 2000         • Last Update: 10 May 2001