Land Design Studio is set to create the £2.7m interpretive design scheme for the Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre in Northern Ireland.
The consultancy was appointed to the project just before Christmas, after winning a three-way pitch. It will work in collaboration with Dublin architect Heneghan-Peng Architects, which has conceived the architectural blueprint for the 1800m2 centre (concept pictured).
Allocated World Heritage Site status in 1986, the Giant’s Causeway coastal spectacle reveals millions of years of unique rock formation. It is Land Design Studio’s task to illuminate the ‘complicated, inert nature of geology’, according to consultancy director Peter Higgins. ‘We will be trying to bring the subjects of plates, tectonics, volcanism and so on to life. It can be hard for people to comprehend geological time spans, so we will also be trying to demystify the processes of geology and time scales involved,’ he says.
To achieve this, the consultancy plans to use digital media, possibly delivered through holographic glass suspended throughout the space, rather than conventional screens. ‘Anything that we install has to work with the light and dark of the architecture [in which] the building is almost cut out of ‘lifted’ land. From some [exterior] angles the buildings almost disappear into the landscape and there is more light near the edge of the interior than towards the inside,’ explains Higgins. ‘Images can hang in this light and dark, which has a graded quality; we have to grade our media accordingly.’
It is likely that there will be few objects in the space, other than those relating to the relatively recent period of human settlement. ‘It is really a new model for us, as we have worked mostly with concepts for museum stories, but these are more abstract concepts and notions of geology, with very few objects. It will be more of a theatrical event.’
The centre is scheduled for completion towards the end of 2008. The development is being funded by owner Giant’s Causeway Visitor Facilities, a subsidiary of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. The company has allocated almost a third of the total budget to interpretive design, education and fit-out, which Higgins describes as a ‘healthy proportion’.
GIANT’S CAUSEWAY DEVELOPMENT
• £8.5m total budget
• £2.7m of budget allocated to Land Design Studio’s interpretive and education scheme
• Architectural plan for 1800m2 centre created by Dublin’s Heneghan-Peng Architects
• Centre will also act as a hub for regional tourism information