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In Detail: the MAC's In-Situ Concrete by Hackett Hall McKnight

This concrete wall adds a playful rhymth to the cavernous atrium of the MAC

In the MAC, Belfast’s new arts centre architects, Hackett Hall McKnight have paid considerable attention to the texture of walls, both inside and out.

The brick cladding of the south elevation of the atrium has been peeled back to reveal an in-situ concrete wall. Taking cues from the basalt stone tower that faces St Anne’s Square, this internal element is an elegant study in how formwork can be used to create rhythm and depth with the vast concrete wall. As an early concept, the wall was seen as an abstract drawing where ‘fields’ of textured concrete would be framed by smooth concrete.


Employing a standard bolt-through arrangement, the formwork was constructed by attaching wooden boards with a 6mm chamfer to coated plywood using with steel supports.

As the architects decided that each board should be used a maximum of four times, the interesting challenge was in using the same panels to create variation in the pattern and still abide to certain predetermined rules such as the width of and between the boards as well as that the bolt-holes should occur only in the smooth panels between the boards.

Detail plan showing the patterned formwork

Detail plan showing the patterned formwork


Formwork details

Zoom_In_Picture2Formwork detail axonometric


Fact File

Architect: Hackett Hall McKnight
Structural and service engineer: Buro Happold
Theatre consultant: Carr & Angier
Lifts: Schindler
Photographs: Christian Richters









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