A 12-month competition, led by Belfast City Council and supported by RIBA, has culminated with the appointment of an integrated design team for ‘Belfast Stories’ – a unique destination set to open by 2029, unlocking almost 100 years of heritage at the 1931 art-deco Bank of Ireland site on Royal Avenue.
Gleeds has been appointed to oversee project management and design assurance and the architectural appointment is a partnership between Oslo-based, Snøhetta, and Belfast-based TODD Architects. All companies have proven experience in delivering major cultural and public realm projects, and a track record of creating sustainable places that benefit both visitors and local people.
Wendy Langham, Programme Director at Belfast Stories, said: “Reaching this important project milestone is a crucial stage in the project, and we are delighted to appoint a consortium that we believe not only has the experience to create a state-of-the-art, city landmark but also shares in the Belfast Stories vision – to create a space for everyone that demonstrates and celebrates the spirit of Belfast. We had an overwhelmingly positive response to the competition which attracted the highest calibre of talent.”
Tim Hanna, Director at Gleeds, said, “Our experience of managing other city-based projects, such as the PwC headquarters at Merchant Square and The Seamus Heaney Centre, will serve us well as we take the lead on project management and assurance for Belfast Stories. We’re proud to have been selected to lead the team and I’m confident that we’ll deliver a visually striking, sustainable place which unites locals and visitors and benefits Belfast culturally, socially and economically.”
As a flagship project of the £850 million Belfast Region City Deal, the appointed consortium will see the 5,000m2 site transformed into a state-of-the-art, interactive, and immersive visitor experience that celebrates the stories of Belfast and provides vibrant social spaces for everyone to enjoy. The integrated design team will be tasked with bringing Belfast Stories to life as a landmark destination in Belfast including shared spaces for socialising and learning that will complement the experience. Belfast Stories will also become the focal point for the burgeoning screen industry, a base for film-related organisations, and a home for Northern Ireland Screen’s digital film archive.
Whilst work on the design is yet to start, it is intended that the site will become the city’s greatest example of a climate resilient building, supporting Belfast’s position as a Top 10 globally sustainable city, according to the 2022 Global Destinations Sustainability Index.