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SoundYard Added to Belfast's Maritime Heritage Experience

22nd January 2021
SoundYard will celebrate Belfast's maritime heritage, add to the animation, accessibility, and vibrancy of the Maritime Mile SoundYard will celebrate Belfast's maritime heritage, add to the animation, accessibility, and vibrancy of the Maritime Mile

The Maritime Mile is an initiative developed by Maritime Belfast Trust and is a curated experience that connects and celebrates Belfast's vibrant heritage waterfront. It was set up originally to deliver the Titanic Belfast Visitor attraction and now includes many projects dotted on the waterfront through which flows the River Lagan. Among the projects on what is a ten-kilometre trail are the SS Nomadic, a tender to the Titanic and the last remaining White Star Line ship in the world; HMS Caroline, a light cruiser and the only surviving battleship from the Battle of Jutland, and the Titanic Slipways.

HMS Caroline  Photo: National Historic ShipsHMS Caroline Photo: National Historic Ships

And now later this year another exciting new outdoor visitor experience will be added by Belfast Harbour - this time through sound - bringing to life part of Belfast's maritime heritage story.

Approvals are now in place for this impressive all-weather structure which will be located on the waterside, next to the Odyssey Complex and Belfast Harbour Marina, which was once the site of a brass foundry and Kelly's Coal yards. The design and sound were inspired by the noise of striking metal emanating from the old shipyards.

SoundYard will celebrate Belfast's maritime heritage, add to the animation, accessibility, and vibrancy of the Maritime Mile, as well as help reconnect and educate children and adults of the significance of the shipyard. Children will enjoy the sensory experience whilst playing within the structure while adults connect with the sound and interpretation within the site. In response to ongoing Covid-19 guidelines, the installation will be activated by motion sensors to avoid children touching the apparatus.

The structure's unique design was the winning submission of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects Early Career CityPlay Design competition in 2019. The talented young architects, Hannah Wilson, Matthew Kernan and Eunan Deeney, were inspired by the noise of striking metal from the old shipyard works and the sounds from repurposed metal pipework. The team also considered the circular economy for the built environment, and how elements have been designed with re-use, repurposing and recycling in mind.

SS NomadicSS Nomadic

The project has been funded by Tourism NI, Maritime Belfast Trust, JP Corry and Belfast Harbour, with collaborative partnerships with the Royal Society of Ulster Architects, Todd Architects and the Odyssey Trust.

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Maritime Belfast Trust, said: "We are delighted to have this opportunity to team up with young architects, stakeholders and former shipyard employees to develop this amazing project, The SoundYard project aims to create a new bespoke play experience along the Maritime Mile and will also attract local communities and reconnect them with the city's iconic waterfront, especially during these difficult times. It brings the heritage and story of the former Shipyard into the heart of Belfast, a community that has contributed so much to our maritime economy past and present."

Joe O'Neill, Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour, added " Creating an iconic waterfront for the city and vibrant inner harbour is one of Belfast Harbour's key strategic goals. Our partnership with Maritime Belfast Trust plays a vital role in helping us to deliver this ambition and the SoundYard project is an element in a wide range of activities supporting the delivery of this goal and creating an area in which people want to work, live, invest and relax".
Tourism NI Director of Product Development, Rosemarie McHugh, said: "The new tourism brand Northern Ireland Embrace A Giant Spirit, is based on what we know visitors enjoy when they come to Northern Ireland – the giant spirit of the people, authentic local experiences and stories, and our magnificent landscape. This project by the Maritime Belfast Trust is another exciting addition to the visitor experience along Belfast's Maritime Mile".

Ronnie West, Civils Products sales Manager at JP Corry, commented: "It has been a pleasure for JP Corry to work with the RSUA to support innovation and design in the NI construction sector. The SoundYard has been a tremendous achievement by Hannah, Matthew and Eunan, against stiff competition, to design and bring to life such a fitting and tributary concept, wonderfully situated in the historic Titanic Quarter. It is sure to be enjoyed by many for years to come."

The SoundYard will be free to visit and open to the public later this year.

The Maritime Belfast Trust is working on several initiatives to enhance the Maritime Mile initiative, to attract more local people and visitors, and provide greater opportunities for engagement with the story of what was once, the largest shipyard in the world.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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