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Competition: City Quays sculpture, Belfast Harbour

Belfast Harbour Commissioners has launched an open design competition for a new £75,000 public artwork (Deadline: 22 August)

The contest seeks proposals for an ‘original and interesting’ structure which will occupy a pedestrianised square within the client’s £250 million City Quays masterplan.

The winning team will design, construct and install the artwork which will be located outside a new nine-storey, four star hotel due to be constructed on the prominent regeneration site.



City Quays

According to the brief: ‘The design concept must be aesthetically pleasing, original and distinctive while also demonstrating that practical, cost-effective structural engineering and building services solutions have been considered.

‘The proposal must represent an original and interesting idea. It is envisaged that the art solution will be no higher than 14 metres and may act as a geographical point of reference or meeting signpost in the area.’

Designed by Grimshaw, the 186,000m² City Quays masterplan (pictured) focuses on a former harbour site overlooking the River Lagan and near to the M3.

Earlier this year Belfast Harbour Commissioners began searching for an architect to deliver its final element – dubbed Three City Quays – which already has outline planning consent and could be up to 16 storeys high.

Contest site2

Contest site2

The winner of the 14,000m² to 23,000m² office block is expected to be announced in September.

Belfast-based Robinson Patterson Partnership (RPP) completed the development’s £10 million first phase – a five storey office block called One City Quays – one year ago.

An £18 million second phase – featuring the nine-storey Two City Quays by Grimshaw – started on site last year and is due to complete in 2017. Plans for the 188-bedroom hotel – also drawn up by RPP – meanwhile won planning in March.

Founded in 1613, Belfast Harbour handles 67 per cent of Northern Ireland’s seaborne trade and features around 120 hectares of potential development sites.

Nearby landmarks include Eric Kuhne’s £97 million Titanic Belfast visitor attraction, the Odyssey Arena and George Best Belfast City Airport.

Shortlisted submissions for the new artwork will be published on the Belfast Harbour website with the public invited to vote for the winning design.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 12pm on 22 August.

Contact details

Jenni Barkley
Belfast Harbour Commissioners
Harbour Office
Corporation Square
United Kingdom


View the contract notice for more information

Paleys upon Pilers case study: Q&A with Studio Weave

The London practice discusses lessons learned designing a temporary artwork for a busy traffic island in the City of London

How did your Paleys upon Pilers project create a new temporary landmark for Aldgate within a busy traffic roundabout?

Paleys upon Pilers was an intricate timber palace perched on pillars that marks the spot of Aldgate and commemorates its most distinguished resident, Geoffrey Chaucer. It also celebrated the gateway from the City of London to the Olympic Park for the London Festival of Architecture 2012.

Our design was inspired by the two dream poems written by Chaucer while resident in the rooms above the gate from 1374 to 1386. ‘The House of Fame’ and ‘The Parliament of Fowls’ both include images of fantastic dream-like temples of impossible materials and scale, elevated on precarious, precious structures above vast, bizarre landscapes conceivable as analogies for the City.

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What material, structural and other techniques are available to designers seeking a similarly impressive outcome?

Paleys upon Pilers was an abstraction of the uppermost room of the old gate and an invocation of Chaucer’s luxurious dreamed temples. The structure consists of a kind of timber embroidery and will sit in the air above the busy Aldgate High Street, supported on pillars decorated with images from Chaucer’s illuminated manuscripts. The elaborate pattern was designed and screen-printed by Linda Florence in red, blue and gold, the latter of which has been gilded with Dutch gold leaf.

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