Belfast Telegraph

New artistic lighting initiative bid to revive city centre after blaze

‘Process’: Paul Marchant
‘Process’: Paul Marchant

By John Mulgrew

Belfast is set to undergo a new interactive art and lighting-driven initiative in a bid to help revitalise sections of the city centre.

Following the fire which destroyed the Bank Buildings in August last year, home to Primark, footfall in the area plummeted, with much of Castle Street cut off. It has since reopened.

Now an ambitious plan will try to bring fresh life into the area, and will see projectors installed in eight shops there, which will form an interactive lights installation.

A new neon art installation will also be developed for nearby Castle Arcade.

Belfast City Council says it is trialling these initial two pilot projects.

Plans suggest they could be in place for one to two years.

"As part of our ongoing city centre revitalisation programme, we are currently developing a lighting and dressing strategy," a spokesman said. "This will include a set of design principles that any organisation delivering precinct lighting and dressing in the city can use.

"As part of this work, we are trialling two pilot projects at Castle Street and Castle Arcade. These will include interactive projectors illuminating shutters with animations, a large scale neon artwork and a feature projection."

The Castle Street stores which will have the projectors installed include Kids Store, Old Oven Bakery and Castle Rugs.

The proposed neon art installation along the walls of Castle Arcade will say 'The River Runs Beneath' - referencing the River Farset, which runs under part of Belfast.

Earlier this year Primark boss Paul Marchant said it could be up to four years before the fashion retailer is ready to reopen its Bank Buildings store.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph just over a year after the devastating fire of August 2018 that rocked Belfast city centre, the chief executive said: "We are now going through the process of working very closely with Belfast City Council and the heritage department in Belfast to rebuild Bank Buildings to its former glory. We are probably three to four years away from being able to cut the ribbon on our Bank Buildings' door."

In April the budget fashion retailer moved to secure its presence in Belfast by opening a second city centre store at Fountain House on Donegall Place, previously occupied by New Look.

Earlier this year Rajesh Rana of Belfast Chamber said the fire at Primark prompted a continuing rethink of how to make the city centre more family-friendly.

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