Drive to find a design for key local site is restarted

Barracks wait close to an end

The former barracks site where the new Expo Centre will be built The former barracks site where the new Expo Centre will be built
By Anthony Neeson

A competition to find a suitable architectural design for a landmark building on the site of the former Andersonstown barracks will commence at the end of the summer, we can reveal.

The news comes after three years of legal wrangling which saw the initial competition to design a building for the site stalled.

The prime site has been lying  vacant since 2005 when Andersonstown police station closed. In 2009 the Department for Social Development (DSD) decided that a state-of-the-art Expo Centre would be built there. The Expo West Belfast Consultation process was launched in November 2010 to shortlist local and international entries for the design process.

However, progress was put on hold due to an ongoing legal dispute which has now been resolved.

Last year the site – which sits where three of West Belfast’s main roads converge – was given a temporary makeover as part of a public realm scheme. But now fed-up locals are hoping that work will soon commence on an iconic new building for West Belfast.

Internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind – who designed the new centre for conflict resolution at Long Kesh – was one of those who sat on the original panel to choose the winning design, but it’s not clear if he will sit on the reconvened panel.

Speaking at the launch of the design competition back in 2010, the then DSD Minister, West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood, said: “Earlier this year, the West Belfast partnership and PLACE carried out extensive community engagement on behalf of my Department. The result was a design brief for a building of real quality, a new landmark for West Belfast that could house regeneration, arts and cultural activity.

“The West needs a landmark building and this could be the opportunity. I am confident that the competition will stimulate the thinking of the world’s most creative architects and produce some striking and practical designs. At the same time, the local community must be at the heart of the ongoing process.”

This week the DSD confirmed that a new design competition is oweeks away.

“The Department is currently carrying out the required  process to update the original architectural design brief along with the  Central Procurement Directorate and is engaging with all stakeholders,” a spokesperson told the Andersonstown News.

“This engagement began in May 2013 for a period of eight weeks and should be completed within the next four weeks. It is estimated that a competition to seek architects’ designs will commence at the end of August.”

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