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The new visitor centre is located at the Holywood Arches on the Newtownards Road and sits alongside the new C.S. Lewis Civic Square as part of the Connswater Community Greenway project. The visitor centre includes a coffee shop, interactive information points, high tech displays celebrating local legends and an opportunity to purchase locally made merchandise. The high spec new landmark building is a key catalyst for further regeneration at the Holywood Arches and in east Belfast.
The building’s piled foundations straddle the historical quay wall of the now culverted Connswater River. A single storey steel framed and precast concrete transfer structure supports a two-storey load bearing masonry frame, topped off by a lightweight zinc clad timber frame to reduce weight, thus providing savings on the transfer steelwork and foundations. Inside the building the exposed steelwork and precast slabs feature prominently to provide an industrial feel, akin to the heavy industrial past of east Belfast.

The design team worked to BIM Level 2 which brought its own challenges, with the architect using ArchiCAD and Design ID using Revit however with skill and determination a collaborative model was prepared and this was an essential tool to for preparing material schedules, clash detection and visually presenting the industrial feel to the tendering contractors.
Managing the quality of steel fabrication and exposed precast slab finishes was an essential component in the success of the building, and this was clearly communicated at all stages of the design and construction phases.
Providing a facility with such a high-quality finish for the contract sum of £629,000 was a testament to the joint efforts of the design team, contractor and client.