Park Hood was appointed by The National Museum of the Royal Navy and the Strategic Investment Board in 2014 to develop landscape design proposals for the refurbishment of Alexandra Dock in Belfast’s historic Titanic Quarter and to assist with a Heritage Lottery Funding Application. The dock is home to HMS Caroline, last survivor of the Battle of Jutland and 1 of 3 surviving Royal Navy warships from WW1.
Our brief was to develop designs which would provide a unique and benefiting environment for HMS Caroline and present Belfast’s offering as a major maritime heritage destination and tourist attraction.
Our approach to design was based on enhancing the visitor experience by significantly improving access, restoring original features where feasible and developing inspiring landscaping and interpretive displays.
The Alexandra Dock is a protected Scheduled Monument and development of the site is subject to Scheduled Monument Consent. A comprehensive survey of the Dock extents was undertaken with a Conservation Architect and Industrial Archaeologist to establish the types/condition of surfaces present and to record existing historical features including mooring bollards, rail tracks, lighting and maritime artefacts.
We established that much of the original Belfast and Galleted Cobble stone surfaces surrounding the Dock were still intact but buried underneath bitmac and concrete of varying depths. A core part of our design proposed the old cobbles were fully restored and this involved the hand removal, individual cleaning and Galleted reinstallation of thousands of cobbles.
In addition, a fully accessible perimeter footpath was installed using exposed aggregate concrete which was chosen to reflect the industrial character of the area. All materials were fully agreed with Historical Environments Division as part of the Scheduled Monument Consent process along with a strict methodology for any excavation works that were required throughout the Dock area.
The location of key historical features picked up in the original conditions survey were incorporated within the layout design and have resulted in the reinstatement of original cobbled drainage channel alignments, the retention of mooring bollards within footways and seemingly random groups of cobbles within different surfaces, all to ensure a sympathetic renewal of this key industrial heritage site.
Other core elements of our approach included installing new railings, lighting, seating and information boards. We also included a maritime themed play area for children which incorporated a large ‘centre piece’ play structure based on HMS Caroline to maintain historical context.
The project was completed in April 2018