Colin Connect Transport Hub & Colin Town Square

by Hall McKnight

A small transport hub on the edge of the city of Belfast, a seemingly unremarkable brief in an equally unexceptional suburban context. A site next to a busy road devoid of any sense the city or the civic.

Through imagination and a sophisticated architectural language the architects have realised a remarkable if modestly scaled civic building. It appears suddenly and emphatically as an exotic erratic boulder at the side of the busy Stewartstown Road. The form of the roof invites the slope of the hill to the north to cross the busy street onto the site.

The building, albeit benefiting from a very generous budget, is constructed to last. It is effectively a double concrete shell, the inner shell tinted a pinkish terracotta, with thick granite cladding to all the elevations. The building form adopts a generous attitude to the community, convex facades to the new square to the north and to Stewartstown Road invite entry and engagement. Large red granite framed windows look out to hill and square respectively.

The strength of the architecture will inevitably be tested as the building is more actively occupied by both client and community. Already signage and fittings outwith the architect’s influence have begun to litter the internal spaces. The building and the architect however are strong enough not to be undermined by this accrual of the everyday.

The building begs a simple question do communities on the periphery deserve civic building of stature, dignity and gravity? The response to this question is a confident and accomplished work of architecture.