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Marine Institute Belfast

Part 2 Project 2010
Micah T Jones
Ulster University Belfast UK

The Site situated 2.6 km North East of Belfast’s city hall is part of the now demolished Belfast West Power Station site. The majority of the island is now derelict since the demolition of the power station.

Much of the dockland area is comprised of low lying warehouses and works yards, yet the scale of the area is set by the ships, and cranes that operate in the area.

The essence of the building concept is the idea of proximity, the city tends to turn its back on industry which in turn is moved further out onto new reclaimed land. The massive structures and incredible forms and functions of these industrial machine buildings are an interesting backdrop to insert the delicate functions of city life.

This proximity of the industrial and the metropolitan is the basis of this project. The building is not only set in a landscape of cranes and ships, but is infiltrated by these industrial objects.

The building surrounds a shipping dock and allows the industrial processes to carry on while allowing a deep connection between these still vibrant industries and the onlooking institute. The institute itself is poised over the dock and looks down on the ships below. The building carries a heavy and industrial quality while balancing the delicacies of urban life. The six bridges across the dock are a mixture of connections and functions, the largest of the bridges steps down a floor and creates a large 300 seat auditorium. The other bridges include a studio bridge, a computer/study bridge and a teaching bridge, the teach bridge having a series of four teach spaces.

The library is connected to the staff spaces via the study bridge and connects back over to the research department. The concept behind the bridge connections is that it creates interim spaces for the program that is create between. So the spaces have relevance to both of the programs at each end of the bridge. The library is comprised of a series of pods which have various functions such as study spaces, tutorial spaces, labs and projection rooms.

Micah T Jones


Belfast is a city rich in maritime history and narrative. The river and harbour are both key to the life and character of the city, and it's people.

The shipyards have influenced the urban pattern and growth of the city, and in turn the vessels that were produced were of such extraordinary skill and scale they have made the city world famous.

The dock and harbour area have gone through many shifts of declining industrialisation and change, which have impacted on any sense of connectivity to the city. While new urban developments are generically ambitious with their prototypical waterfront imagery Micah's project returns to a heroic aspiration of what the sea can bring back to the city.

Studying the the whole dock structure of the city and then focusing on the notion of the historical 'pleasure island' Micah has transformed this into 'Destination Island'. Micah has reconsidered what the scale of the vessel can bring to the city and in turn it's aspiration of the world beyond.

Constructed from from a seemingly simple and vertical abstract honeycomb of containers, the Maritime Institute spans the dock like a new world map: triangulated in bridges. These form a series of teaching spaces and research zones which engage the latest technologies of shipping and navigation. Located at a height where the sea opens up to the horizon the project aspires to create one of the most vivid and contextual marine institutes in the world.

Micah has considered every detail of the project using digital modelling and has been influenced by such things as the constructive process of shipbuilding through to cinematic representation of underwater craft and wonderful diagrammatic urban circuitry.

This return to the heroic scale of the docks reveals both a personal dedication to a situated architecture and expresses the dramatic forces changing the city of Belfast: celebrating it's maritime past and opening a future of aspirational energy and creativity.

Tutor(s)
Mr Paul Clarke
2010
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