Belfast Ultimaker USI project MAIN

Seeing Belfast’s back streets in a better light

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Belfast City Council set about reimagining areas of the Northern Ireland capital with specialist lighting and street furniture that it hoped would help lead to further opening up its commercial district, giving local businesses a lift and help reduce antisocial issues.

The ‘Entries’ in Belfast are a series of narrow alleyways that connect many of the main city-centre streets and districts. Steeped in historical context, they are still used today as cut throughs or as gathering spaces such as bars and restaurants.

Urban Scale Interventions (USI), a team of researchers, architects, designers, technologists, and makers was brought in to reimagine a number of the Entries across the city, to create set-ups that celebrated the history of the sites with new ‘Instagramable’ lighting installations.

USI chose to reflect the influence of the sites’ history, which for the site outside Whites Tavern meant a reflection on its past as an oyster market, which the designers creating 43 large floating light orbs, mirroring the sea and the creatures within. The design changes colours, in line with an ambient soundscape that helps create a relaxed atmosphere for patrons entering and leaving the tavern, as well as helping them discover it in a more safer light.

USI chose to use a clear high-percentage recycled material from Filamentive for its orb lights, deciding to 3D print all 43 of the light housings on an Ultimaker 3D printer, which it says gave them the flexibility to design the bespoke components as well as test prototypes for fit, toughness and transparency.

The move has given Belfast’s hospitality industry the opportunity to rethink the way that it works with the pavement outside, creating a better space that allows for cultural activities to take place.