About Adelaide Street
As part of our Bolder Vision, we’re working to ensure that our public spaces are fit for purpose to support people’s health and wellbeing, connectivity, social and cultural vibrancy and economic growth. We want to ensure that public space design in Belfast is safe, welcoming and sustainable so that people have the confidence to use and enjoy it. For our Adelaide Street project, we took a people centred approach. We developed the scheme through comprehensive engagement with a range of stakeholders including statutory agencies, inclusivity forums and representative bodies, and discussions with local residents and workers of all ages, who contributed their issues and asks, which shaped the design.
People wanted to see a more pedestrian friendly environment - a calmer, safer, greener space, with enhanced lighting, outdoor dining areas, shelter, bike parking, playful areas and seating. We set about incorporating all those requirements within a 400meter long liner public garden, embedding playfulness along the way.
We also wanted to celebrate the area’s linen heritage. So the lit shelter structures you’ll see are designed to be contemporary and bold, and to echo the jacquard looms and beetling machines used in linen production through their patterns, shapes and colours. Their mirrored surfaces reflect characters on surrounding buildings and encourage people to look up at the street’s historic architectural features. At night, solar powered light spills out through their perforations, adding a welcoming, gentle glow. The choice of wood alongside the extensive greening and traditional red brick buildings enhances a sense of warmth and nature on Adelaide Street.
The reduction to a single lane of traffic on the street was a critical element of the project, allowing parts of the extended pavement to become wide enough to be used in different ways. We worked closely with the Department for Infrastructure on the engineering and new layout of the street, and developed a new type of kerbing which allows for trial pavement build outs. We also initiated prototyping ‘pro-skate’ infrastructure for public realm schemes.
The new scale has changed Adelaide Street entirely, from having little active frontage, to becoming an animated place that’s wider, softer, warmer and has more visible points of interest at height. People can now sit outside and feel safer walking, wheeling and scooting along or sitting to meet or eat.
We commissioned and worked with OGU and MMAS architects who are interested in how the use of temporary and demountable architecture can progress discussion around what future public space could be like. This project has trialled new approaches on many levels in both the design and delivery process. We designed and delivered this project in collaboration with DfI, working with local architects and engineers, constructed by Northern Irish manufacturers and made of locally grown larch, this project celebrates and supports local industry and delivers on our Belfast Agenda and Bolder Vision ambitions to create a better connected, more liveable, accessible city.
The scheme was made possible by the Department for Infrastructure’s Green and Blue fund.
OGU Architects and MMAS won the AJ Small Projects Award for the Adelaide Street scheme in May 2023.