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Part 2 Project 2012
Rory Caithness
Ulster University Belfast UK

Belfast is a city that has forgotten its river; the city exists because of the river; and Its myths, stories and imagery are rooted in its industry and shipbuilding that trace the line of the river out into the ocean.

This proposal asks the question “who owns the water?”, as a way to recover the forces and qualities of the river for civic life, and bring it back to the city. This is done through opening up an abandoned area of the river edge that has been lost in a web of new infrastructure and by proposing a building that is a place to encounter water in different ways: socially, politically, ecologically, and most importantly for leisure and fun.

The site is on Donegal Quay on the northern side of the M3 Cross Harbour Bridge. The site has been chosen due to its strategic position between the city centre and the docks. It is a pivotal point between these two separated areas, which were once seamlessly interconnected.

The programme consists of two key areas.

Firstly an exhibition and learning resource for several interlinked water stories. These thematic exhibition areas are split into: the sea, the harbour, the river, and the city. An exhibition dedicated to the Water authority links with a debating chamber where the future of water politics and plans for new investment in infrastructure will be explored. It will also act as a forum where people can participate in shaping an environmental agenda on water ecology.The exhibition content responds to 3 distinct views (which give the building its form): the story of the lough and coastline, the river itself, and lastly the relationship to the city.

The second part is concerned with the sensory experience of water. A series of water pools and experiences such as the underground spa facility (sunk into the bank of the river) draws people in to explore water physically and sensorially. The project has been specifically designed to engage with the tidal shift and to register that in the experience of the building and that of the water pools.

The materiality of the project responds to the river. A concrete superstructure (fluid made static) allows the building to ‘float’. This superstructure anchors the building to the river bank but allows elements of the building to be cantilevered and directed to views, and over the ground plane and river promenade making it both sheltering and permeable. The walls are perforated by a flotsam pattern of openings.

The waters mingle unnoticed into th

Rory Caithness

Mr Paul Clarke
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