Giant project up for a ‘Giant’ prize

The new Giant’s Causeway visitor’s centre at Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize, one of the most coveted awards for architectural excellence.

The £18.5 million centre, designed by Heneghan Peng architects based in Dublin opened in July 2012 and is now the gateway to the 40,000 iconic basalt stones.
The centre, which took two years to build, has also been designed to fit seamlessly within the landscape without impacting the view of the coastline from the stones.

Giant's Causeway exterior. Credit Heneghan Peng and Marie-Louise Halpenny

Heather Thompson, National Trust Director for Northern Ireland said: “We are thrilled that our new visitor centre made the shortlist for this internationally recognised award. It was extremely important for us to create visitor facilities worthy of this unique, legendary visitor attraction.

“As well as looking the part, we wanted to ensure the building was sustainably built using the latest technologies wherever possible.

“In its first year of opening we welcomed 782,000 visitors to the stones. We are incredibly proud to showcase this special place to so many people from across the globe.”

The architecture of the new visitor centre reflects the 40,000 basalt stones of this World Heritage Site. Credit Justin Kernoghan

The architecture of the new visitor centre reflects the 40,000 basalt stones of this World Heritage Site. Credit Justin Kernoghan

Roisin Heneghan of Heneghan Peng architects said: “We were always very aware that the reason for this project was to facilitate what was around it.

“We felt quite strongly that when someone arrived at the site they should see the landscape and not the building.”

The other buildings competing for this prestigious prize are:
– the reinvention of a 1960s Sheffield housing block Park Hill
– the suburban Essex housing development Newhall Be
– a contemporary new holiday home within the burnt-out shell of the 12th century Astley Castle
– the beautifully crafted Bishop Edward King Chapel
– the sculptural yet economic University of Limerick Medical School and student housing.

The RIBA Stirling Prize celebrates its 18th year in 2013. The winner will be declared on 26 September. The competition is run in partnership with the BBC. To get involved and vote for your favourite design, visit or follow discussion via Twitter using #StirlingPrize


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