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New Gate Arts and Culture Centre

Sponsored by
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231123 PL037 EDITED


Location: Londonderry, Belfast

Brick Manufacturer: Wienerberger Limited

Brick Name: Oast Russet

Architect: McGurk Architects

Brickwork Contractor: QMAC Construction

About the project

The £2.3m New Gate Arts & Culture Centre (NGA&CC) creates a magnificent community asset for the people of Derry. Located in the Fountain area, the project involved the retrofit, alteration and extension of the existing arts centre to provide space for a new theatre, café, dance studio, multi-purpose rooms, office space and rooftop terrace. The BREEAM Very Good rated retrofit project was an ambitious endeavour, providing an inclusive shared space for community events and initiatives, in a location with a history of community tensions.

The NGA&CC has essentially aided revitalisation of the wider Fountain area of the city. This is partly due to its occupation of a corner site, where it enhances the streetscape significantly. It is also due to the sensitive conservation and extension of the existing building, with materials such as Wienerberger’s Oast Russet that help connect to the surrounding historic infrastructure. This has been executed to such an extent that the proportions and alignment of openings are in harmony with the adjacent building to create visual continuity. The dynamics of the building heights and placement of the intricate extruded brick fenestration also works in harmony with the surrounding listed buildings. This creates an inherent accord within the streetscape that is innovative and interesting to the eye. The attention to detail has enabled the successful inclusion of a contemporary arts centre within the area that has architectural integrity but modern facilities.

Another dynamic of the Kennedy Place elevation is the illusion of ‘alleys’ to punctuate the building and book-end either side of the extensive brickwork that houses the performance space. These alleys are created through transparency, for example the glazed entrance link that the architects intended to ‘echo the form at this junction’ prior to the demolition of the original crumbling buildings at No. 2-4 Kennedy Place. ‘It allows for the transition between the gable profile of the existing building at 20-22 Hawkin Street and the proposed extension, funnelling building users into the open welcome/café area within’. As you enter the building the brick continues into a naturally lit triple-height entrance foyer with link ‘bridges’ above. The latter creates a sense of an ‘internal street’, allowing a natural progression from outside to in with the brick adding texture, warmth, and character to the concourse. The attention to detail that has been afforded to this centre has structurally revitalised the historic streetscape of the Fountain. It has enabled the successful inclusion of a contemporary arts centre within the area that has architectural integrity but modern facilities.

Approaching the building from Kennedy Street, the centre’s modern brick aesthetic communicates directly with the adjoining red brick terrace building, as well as the former Welch Margetson shirt factory which it faces on the Hawkin Street elevation. The scale and the materiality of the centre successfully work in tandem with the surrounding infrastructure and architectural heritage. It has a ‘modern industrial’ aesthetic that references the area’s past, which is still evident with the presence of the former Welch Margetson shirt factory’.


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