Chinese Welfare Centre, Belfast

The Chinese community in Northern Ireland is the province’s largest minority ethnic group, with estimates ranging from 6000 to 8000. Most members of the local Chinese population live in Belfast, although there are significant numbers in Craigavon, Lisburn, Newtownabbey, North Down and Ballymena.

After a 12-year campaign the Chinese Welfare Association (NI) were finally awarded planning approval and secured funding from the Government and Chinese community to construct a purpose-built community centre to meet the social, educational and economic needs of the local Chinese community.

The design brief for this project was “to deliver a building with a strong architectural presence in a prime city riverside location” and both Client and Architect were agreed on providing a modern, high quality contemporary building that reflects forward thinking and urban regeneration.

The result is a custom-made facility that includes a range of accommodation: office accommodation, a multipurpose hall, kitchen facilities, conference and meeting rooms, a crèche with private playground, training, language and research rooms, library, and a variety of external courtyards and terraces at ground and first floor levels.

The project was funded by a variety of sources including EU, OFMDFM, DSD, Big Lottery and Chinese Community. Through an exceptionally high level of teamwork involving consultants, client groups and contractor representatives the project was accelerated to be completed two months ahead of schedule and on budget – agreed by all to be a remarkable achievement on this tight restricted city centre site.