Competition to regenerate West Belfast

29 September 2009

An international design competition will be launched to help regenerate west Belfast.

It will focus on a planned Expo West building on the site of the former Andersonstown police station where locals and visitors can see and hear more about regeneration plans and achievements in the west of the city.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie said there would be a process of community engagement.

"West Belfast is full of potential. I believe that with its distinctive culture and history, its people and its assets, it has the resources needed to bring about a dramatic regeneration," she said.

"It needs to showcase its potential to the wider city, to the island as a whole and further a field. I want a building that will fulfil that role and be a physical symbol of west Belfast's self confidence.

"A design competition is a great way of encouraging the sort of innovation and excellence in planning and design that I want to see on this site and in wider west Belfast."

The minister has asked PLACE, the architecture and built environment centre for Northern Ireland, to become involved in the design competition in an advisory role. It will allow community consultation on the design brief.

Michael Hegarty, director of PLACE, said: "Design competitions for internationally prominent sites such as the Giant's Causeway and the Marketplace Theatre, Armagh, have generally resulted in high quality buildings that will stand the test of time.

"If the Expo is to be the flagship project for west Belfast, then the international interest generated out of a design competition will help deliver a top quality outcome."