Sounds of the Shipyard Inspire New Maritime Mile Visitor Experience

Maritime Belfast Trust, the Charity that preserves and promotes Belfast’s authentic maritime heritage, has announced that it has been given the green light for SoundYard, an exciting new outdoor interactive visitor experience which will bring to life part of Belfast’s maritime heritage story, along the Maritime Mile, through sound.  The experience will be free to visit and open to the public later this year. 

The impressive all-weather structure will be located on the waterside, next to the Odyssey and Abercorn Marina, which was once the site of a brass foundry and Kelly’s Coal yards.  The design and sound were inspired by the noise of striking metal emanating from the old shipyards.

SoundYard will celebrate Belfast’s maritime heritage, add to the animation, accessibility and vibrancy of the Maritime Mile, as well as help reconnect and educate children and adults of the significance of the shipyard to our city. Children will enjoy the sensory experience whilst playing within the structure while adults connect with the sound and interpretation within the site. In response to ongoing Covid-19 guidelines, the installation will be activated by motion sensors to avoid children touching the apparatus.

The structure’s unique design was the winning submission of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects Early Career CityPlay Design competition in 2019.  The talented young architects, Hannah Wilson, Mathew Kernan and Eunan Deeney, were inspired by the noise of striking

metal from the old shipyard works and the sounds from repurposed metal pipework.  The team also considered the circular economy for the built environment, and how elements have been designed with re-use, repurposing and recycling in mind.

The project has been funded by Tourism NI, Maritime Belfast Trust, JP Corry and Belfast Harbour, with collaborative partnerships with the Royal Society of Ulster Architects, Todd Architects and the Odyssey Trust.

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Maritime Belfast Trust, said:

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to team up with young architects, stakeholders and former shipyard employees to develop this amazing project, The SoundYard project aims to create a new bespoke play experience along the Maritime Mile and will also attract local communities and reconnect them with the city’s iconic waterfront, especially during these difficult times. The SoundYard initiative would not have been possible without investment from Tourism NI, JP Corry and Belfast Harbour, along with in-kind support from the Odyssey Trust.  This project is important to our Charity, as we aim to deliver, promote and protect Belfast’s magnificent maritime heritage; especially within the city’s Covid-19 recovery plans and ensure that Belfast’s historic waterfront plays an integral part of the Belfast experience; a destination that is alive with people and where businesses thrive. It brings the heritage and story of the former Shipyard into the heart of Belfast, a community that has contributed so much to our maritime economy past and present.”

Tourism NI Director of Product Development, Rosemarie McHugh, said:

The new tourism brand Northern Ireland Embrace A Giant Spirit is based on what we know visitors enjoy when they come to Northern Ireland – the giant spirit of the people, authentic local experiences and stories, and our magnificent landscape. This project by the Maritime Belfast Trust is another exciting addition to the visitor experience along Belfast’s Maritime Mile and will bring

the story of Belfast and the shipyards to life in an enjoyable way for visitors and locals alike. This innovative new experience is part funded by Tourism NI alongside over 45 other development projects across Northern Ireland, which will be important in supporting tourism recovery from the impact of COVID 19.”

Ronnie West, Civils Products sales Manager at JP Corry, commented:

“It has been a pleasure for JP Corry to work with the RSUA to support innovation and design in the NI construction sector. The SoundYard has been a tremendous achievement by Hannah, Matthew & Eunan, against stiff competition, to design and bring to life such a fitting and tributary concept, wonderfully situated in the historic Titanic Quarter. It is sure to be enjoyed by many for years to come.” 

Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour, said:

“Creating an iconic waterfront for the city and vibrant inner harbour is one of Belfast Harbour’s key strategic goals.  Our partnership with Maritime Belfast Trust plays a vital role in helping us to deliver this ambition and the SoundYard project is an element in a wide range of activities supporting the delivery of this goal and creating an area in which people want to work, live, invest and relax.     Our vision for development of the Maritime Mile, a walking trail which connects landmarks on both sides of our waterfront, is already attracting new visitors and we hope it will be a key element in the building back of our tourism and leisure sectors.” 

For further information about the project visit or follow on Twitter: @MaritimeBelfast and LinkedIn. The Maritime Belfast Trust is working on several initiatives to enhance the Maritime Mile initiative, to attract more local people and visitors, and provide greater opportunities for engagement with the story of what was once, the largest shipyard in the world.

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