The Waterfront Hall: Now you see it…

So here it is. This is what the ‘new’ Waterfront Hall will look like after the £29.5m conference centre is built. The Council is providing £11m, DETI’s European Regional Development Fund is pitching in £14.5m along with £4m from the tourist board.

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Here’s the architect’s plan with a view from the river:

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Hmmm… so the Waterside Hall is not going to be so beside the water as it is currently. Although interestingly that’s not where the original idea seemed to be heading:

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At this stage there was a clear attempt to preserve some visual connection between waterfront and hall.  Though it is hard to see how this design could ever have delivered the actual space a conference hall would require to make it viable. They’ve achieved that by boxing the hall in on almost every side.

The design change might explain the sudden bump in the budget last year? The planning application was made at the end of November 2013.

So take a good long loving look at Robinson McIlwaine’s modern gem (£29.1 million in old money), which several times in its own planning stage almost never made it into life.




Of course, it’ll still be there.  You just won’t able to see it until you’re almost in it.

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  • sherdy

    Will they be squaring the circle?

  • Drumlins Rock

    There appears to yet another design on the BBC ! slightly less hideous,

  • Neil

    Thus re-canabalising the conference money the Titanic centre canabalised from the Waterfront in the first place. It’s alright, no-one’s paying attention to the Titanic joint any more. Maybe in a few years they’ll stick a nice extension on the Titanic building and coax all that money back. From themselves.

  • Mick Fealty


    That’s a different rendering of the same one.

  • Charles_Gould

    This is actually an offensive building; hideous.

    Its like building a tower in front of Royal Albert Hall.

    Asthetic vandalism.

  • Mick Fealty


    I’d say that if that’s true, then someone has not been looking critically enough at likely outcomes. If all you do is cannibalise an existing city resource the capex spend is wasted.

    The minutes of the meeting at which the change was authorised gives a hint at why this project is being contemplated ( I’d pick out two that caught my attention:

    – Reduce the operating deficit of the Waterfront Hall thus freeing up resources which can support funding for other capital projects across the city such as the renewal of our leisure estate

    – The project is also time bound in that the project must be completed by the end of June 2015 in order to be able to draw down all of the eligible funding before the closure of the ERDF Programme on 31 December 2015.

    The second of which gives the distinct impression that the design changes have been made in a hurry because the window is changing, whilst first suggests that the hall as a resource is failing and this is an attempt to substantially transform its function without quite admitting as much?

    I think we’d need access to the Green Book (no, not that one!) to draw harder conclusions.

  • cynic2

    “the hall as a resource is failing”

    Most things the Council touches do.

    I wonder will the new design manage the miraculous logistic challenge of getting gin tonic lemon and ice all to the same bar at the same time – something which has eluded the caterers since the bloody thing opened

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    this just has to be stopped

  • Mushroom Man

    This is very disappointing news. The Waterfront Hall is on of the few iconic and quality buildings of.the 20th century. The fact that it is struggling financially is a reflection of subsidiarity cuts and the prolonged recession.

    The other problem for the Waterfront is there is nothing else in the area, there are no bars, no restaurants. At night time, the area feels totally depressing and a conference centre isn’t going to change that.

    Belfast city centre has more unused space than any other city in the UK. Was this really the only option? Could a new build somewhere in TQ not have made more sense?