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New Theatre For Queen's University Belfast

Part 1 Project 2002
Markos Portalios
Irene Mcgee
Queen's University Belfast Belfast UK
Situated in a narrow site between the formal and prestigious Queen’s University Lanyon Building, and the city park, Botanic Gardens, the project brief was to design a building to house the Queen’s University drama department and its facilities.

On this site, the 200 seating flexible black box space is the main requirement, however, in an age where sustainable architecture is at par, the theatre must also lend itself to its environment, its immediate surroundings…the University, the park, the glasshouses, the trees, the views, the climate.

The environment appears to merge with the design of the building… the park continues to grow in the backstage atrium from the south, and the formal lawns of the University seep into the foyer space. This brings an exploration of the relationship between sustainability and landscape as a functional acceptance.

Architecture fuses with nature, and romantic ideals allow the black box theatre to open out allowing a ground floor visual link to take place through the building, from the university to the park. Views within the building reinforce this intent. The green room and dressing rooms overlook both the park and the atrium. The entire building reads as four interconnecting compositions bound together with its ‘bark’ service strip and its tree- like structure. It is rooted into its surrounding family of brick University buildings by its contextual tone of materials, the use of GFRC iron oxide coloured concrete panels. The scale of the building decreases from the University façade down to the park side, addressing the contrast between its urban frontage and natural frontage.

Markos Portalios
Irene Mcgee


Irene’s project sought to influence the wider context by creating a link between the ‘university park’ of the Botanic Gardens and the manicured lawn of the main university buildings. The proposal, for a small university studio theatre, demonstrates an engagement with the brief that understands the inherent character required of the building. The building is described using a mixture of photographic images, large scale physical models to show internal spaces and materials, and computer visualization. Internal studies using photographs and drawings illustrate the thread of consistency in execution that runs through the work. The plan uses the idea of served and servant space in a way which helps to organize the building on a difficult site and the section is designed to manipulate the movement of public and performers, controlling views and meeting points, while maintaining an openness to the building. This achievement is the most notable given the limited space allowed for the building.

The scheme is a liberated and original response to a very constrained linear site and successfully addresses issues of urban design, scale and both physical and cultural context.

Tutor(s)
Dr Alexandra Stara
2002
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