Belfast - Northern Island, UK
The Titanic Signature Project
The cultural lynch pin of the new Titanic Quarter, the Titanic Signature Project will transform Queen's Island into a dynamic leisure destination of international significance. Historic precedents have driven the design process, the final form reflecting the industrial legacy of Harland & Wolf and the wider impact of shipbuilding and the sea on Belfast's development. The prow of the building's glass-walled atrium plots a course down the centre of the listed Titanic and Olympic slipways towards the lapping waters of the River Lagan. The project's close proximity to the very site where these two famous leviathans were forged lends it unparalleled levels of authenticity and immediacy that will help make its contents the definitive telling of those liners' stories.
The building's form conjures up a mass of maritime metaphors; its four projecting segments are instantly evocative of ships prows ploughing their way through the North Atlantic swell. Almost the entire facade will be clad in faceted, three-dimensional plates in a pattern recalling of the construction methods of the great ocean liners. Developed with the help of specialist facade contractor Metallbau Frueh and manufactured by Spanwall, the 3,000 anodised aluminium plates are arranged into a complex asymmetrical design, fracturing the reflected light into a series of abstracted waves and breakers.
A powerful engine of regeneration, the project combines valuable amenities and rich experiences to fulfil the needs and expectations of guests and residents alike. The careful balance of cultural and commercial functions has produced a financially sustainable centre capable of raising income directly through tourism and corporate hospitality. With its cantilevered floor plates expanding outwards from a modest footprint, the project delivers these multiple attractions without encroaching upon the historic remnants of the shipyards that are being preserved wherever possible. Most tangible of these are the Slipway Gardens where the outlines of the Olympic and Titanic will be traced into the paving to allow visitors to walk the length of their decks once more.
Internally, the project provides over 12,000 sqm of floor space across 5 levels whose combined height is equivalent to a 10-storey building. These generous ceiling heights allow for suitably large-scale exhibits, the lower levels being controlled environments in which to create atmospheric installations evocative of heavy industry or the depths of a ship's hull. This 'Titanic Experience' is being designed by Europe's leading exhibition designers, Event, whose previous work includes the award-winning Magna Science Adventure Centre and Imperial War Museum North. CivicArts worked closely with Event to develop internal layouts and circulation patterns that would maximise the available exhibition space, dividing it into a logical sequence of 'episodes' within Titanic's story. CivicArts' concept design for the lofty central atrium deliberately evokes the towering forms and jagged, jostling angles of an early 20th century shipyard, creating a dynamic introduction to Event's displays.
Infused with an inherent sense of place, the Titanic Signature Project presents a constant reminder of Belfasts progressive engineering prowess. The Opening ceremony was the 31st March 2012 to coincide with the centenary year of Titanic's maiden voyage, its graphic silhouette will come to symbolise Belfast's metamorphosis from 19th century engineering powerhouse to 21st century metropolis.