SoundYard, a playful sound and light installation inspired by the sounds of Belfast’s shipyards, has opened to the public on Belfast's Maritime Mile.  Located along the city’s 10 kilometres 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.

SoundYard was the winning entry of the City Play Design Competition held by the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA), JP Corry and Maritime Belfast Trust.  The aim was to challenge young architects to generate innovative ideas for play on Belfast’s Maritime Mile.  This historic area of waterfront stretches one navigational mile and connects attractions, public realm, sculptures & viewing points on both sides of the river.

The Design Team took their inspiration from the city's industrial past and the immense shipyards that once employed thousands of people.  Their striking design and innovative play area celebrate Belfast’s maritime heritage, inspired by the constant noise of striking, hammering and riveting of metal that was once heard in the shipyards.

The completed installation is 6 metres tall and 9.6 metres wide.  The sculpture consists of over 500 suspended metal rods hung in circular rings from a steel support structure.  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 prevalent in the shipyards.

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.”

SoundYard isn’t just a daytime experience, after dark it turns into a stunning light installation, with the metal rods and veil illuminated.  If you’re enjoying an evening stroll along the Maritime Mile, SoundYard is one of a number of key attractions that light up at night, from the Great Light to Titanic Belfast.  It is open 24/7 and suitable for all ages.  Children can enjoy the sensory experience whilst playing within the structure while adults can connect with the sound & interpretation.

Read more about Maritime Belfast Trust, one of our Shipshape Network Northern Ireland projects. 

SoundYard installation copyright Stephen Henderson
Photo by Stephen Henderson


Region Northern Ireland