Belfast Telegraph

Titanic centre steams onto shortlist for design award

By Linda Stewart

The £76m Titanic Belfast building has made it to the finals of a major interior design award.

The tourist attraction has been shortlisted for the International Interior Design of the Year at the Leading European Architects Forum (Leaf).

The Leaf award winners will be announced at an event in London in September.

The interior design for the 14,000 sq m (150,700 sq ft), six-floor building was developed by architectural practice Kay Elliott.

Kay Elliott is an international studio of architects and designers with a built portfolio of £0.5bn, spanning 20 countries and serving 20 million users each year.

Its projects include commercial, cultural, housing, health, education sectors, the leisure sector, Urban Regeneration and Masterplanning. It is a leading, international expert in visitor attraction projects.

Mark Muir, Kay Elliott’s project director for Titanic Belfast, said: “It’s great to be in the running for this highly prestigious award and particularly appropriate during the centenary year of the ship’s launch and loss.”

The largest Titanic visitor experience features nine interpretative and interactive galleries that explore the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Titanic, as well as the city and people that made her 100 years ago.

Titanic Belfast features a dark ride, underwater exploration theatre, recreations of its cabins and interactive technologies.

The fifth and sixth floors also boast luxurious conference and banqueting suites, including the Titanic Suite, and the recreation of Titanic’s Grand Staircase.

The staircase sparked controversy earlier this year when it emerged that it will not be opened for paying members of the public to view. The attraction has since held a number of Staircase Sundays, in which limited numbers of pre-booked visitors were able to view the staircase.

The near-replica Grand Staircase is 23ft high and 24ft wide, has 23 steps, weighs nearly four tonnes and is made up of 10,000 individual parts.

It was built in six separate sections using red oak, the wood from which the Titanic’s Grand Staircase was made.

Six specialist joiners from Oldtown Joinery worked on the project to match the craftsmanship of original designers Harland & Wolff.

It is estimated to have taken 1,500 man-hours and four months to complete.

Oldtown Joinery is a family owned specialist joinery business which has been involved in the design, manufacture and installation of hand-built bespoke staircases since 1992. Oldtown uses traditional skills and methods to hand build each staircase from carefully selected timbers and components.

Where possible all spindles, newel posts, handrails etc are manufactured in house to cater for the client’s requirements and tastes, whether traditional or contemporary.

The building also houses temporary exhibits, a 1,000-seat banqueting floor, education and community facilities, catering and retail space and a basement car park.

Visitors will learn about the construction of RMS Titanic and the rich story of Northern Ireland’s industrial and maritime heritage.

From Brazil to Belfast ... the Leaf award shortlist

  • Forest Chapel, Gunma,Japan
  • The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
  • Rodeio Restaurant, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Titanic Belfast, Belfast Northern Ireland

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