Time to play at SoundYard on the Maritime Mile

20 October 2021

Time to play at SoundYard on the Maritime Mile

SoundYard, another exciting addition to the visitor experience along Belfast’s Maritime Mile, has officially opened to the public. Located along the city’s 10 kilometers of accessible waterfront, visitors from home and afar will enjoy this interactive sound and play experience which will bring to life the story of Belfast’s maritime heritage.

Managed by Maritime Belfast Trust, the charity that preserves and promotes Belfast’s authentic maritime heritage, SoundYard is an impressive all-weather structure located on the waterside, next to the Odyssey and Abercorn Marina.  The design and sound, activated by motion sensors, were inspired by the noise of striking metal once heard from the old shipyards. Throughout the year SoundYard, along with other key heritage sites on the Maritime Mile, will illuminate the waterfront.

Pictured, from left to right,
Ronnie West JP Corry, Kerrie Sweeney Maritime Belfast Trust, Belfast City Council Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Kate Nicholl, Allison Dowling Belfast Harbour and Lesley-Ann O’Donnell Tourism NI.

To celebrate the opening of SoundYard, here’s some interesting facts about the installation:
  1. SoundYard stands at over 6 meters tall and 9.6 meters wide and consists of over 500 suspended metal rods.
  1. The location of SoundYard is where Queens Quay was constructed 1844-46 as Belfast Harbour began to expand. The former Kelly’s Coal yards were established here in the 1840s overlooking the developing Harbour and Abercorn Basin. It was also once the site of a brass foundry.
  1. Shipbuilding became one of Belfast city’s largest industries in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the hammering and clanging noises from the yard has become as iconic as the yellow cranes that define Belfast’s skyline today.
  2. The outer veil consists of reflective metal rods, designed as an acoustic buffer and visual mirage and the inner veil consists of suspended sound tubes. Movement sensors enable users to activate a motorised system of steel hammers that in turn strike the hollow tubes to generate the nostalgic sounds of striking metal once heard in the shipyards.
  3. The magnificent installation has a lighting scheme, which will illuminate the harbour and provide a safe and attractive evening environment on the Maritime Mile.

SoundYard was the winning submission of the RSUA Early Years Architects Competition 2019, created by three young talented architects Matthew Kernan, Eunan Deeney & Hannah Wilson. The initiative would not have been possible without investment from Tourism NI's Experience Development Programme, Maritime Belfast Trust, JP Corry, Belfast Harbour and Belfast City Council. Along with guidance from Todd Architets, the expertise of metal fabricators, Fabrite and in-kind support from the Odyssey Trust and the Royal Society of Ulster Architects. 

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive Maritime Belfast Trust, said:
“We are delighted to officially launch SoundYard located on the Maritime Mile. This project is an important part of our strategy, ensuring Belfast’s historic waterfront plays an integral part of the Belfast experience; a destination that is alive with people and where businesses thrive, as well as supporting the city with its pandemic recovery plans. SoundYard is a bespoke experience which will attract local communities, reconnect them with the city’s iconic waterfront as well as provide a unique play and sound experience for visitors of all ages and abilities.” 
Lesley-Ann O’Donnell from Tourism NI added:
“SoundYard is an innovative way of telling the story of the former shipyard and will further animate the Maritime Mile and Belfast’s iconic heritage waterfront, complementing the wider tourism offering across Belfast. As a 24/7 experience it will also be a striking feature when it is illuminated in the evening and will help to connect visitors to local people. We are delighted to support SoundYard, an important investment in our tourism industry at this time.”
For further information on SoundYard and new developments along the Maritime Mile visit www.maritime-mile.com or follow-on Facebook and Instagram @MaritimeMile.