For years the Giant’s Causeway visitor facilities had suffered from underinvestment, a number of fires and a lack of partnership working. Recognising its importance to Northern Ireland’s tourism economy and international reputation, the government stepped in to overcome the partnership paralysis and inertia, and to deliver a world-class visitor centre and experience.
Responding to the government’s bold lead, we were commissioned to work with the National Trust, Moyle District Council and the Environment and Heritage Service to first identify a suitable site for the development, then establish the business case and finally, procure the design through international competition. The approach we adopted involved considerable time and effort on the ground, working one-to-one with each of the partners to carefully navigate their individual priorities and concerns. This paid off when, for the first time, all of the partners unanimously agreed with the development strategy.
We helped to secure £19m of investment and procured the award-winning design through an international competition that attracted over 300 submissions – the largest response to any UK competition. The building – designed by Heneghen Peng – was later shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize. The landmark centre opened in 2012, finally affording the Giant’s Causeway befitting visitor facilities and a world-class experience. The centre has been lauded ever since opening and has enabling a doubling of visitor numbers.