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Victoria Square, Belfast

  • Architect:
    BDP Architects
  • Award Type:
    Best Retail Development 2009
  • Location: Ulster
Victoria Square, Belfast


Picking up the urban pattern of streets and spaces, the architects have successfully provided for one of the best new urban spaces in Belfast. The challenge was huge and the design reflects the complexity of the brief. It is more than a shopping centre and it has provided for the sustainable development of the city centre eastwards in an open and refreshing manner. The city has new urban space, which is open, inviting, monumental and architecturally significant.


Victoria Square incorporates nearly 63,000m2 of retail space over three floors, including the flagship House of Fraser department store. Added to a two-level food court, a restaurant terrace, an eight screen Odeon cinema and 106 apartments, the scheme totals approximately 135,253m2. 1000 underground car parking spaces are provided over two levels, with good vertical circulation links and generous provision for disabled and family parking.

In contrast to the traditional ‘enclosed mall’ model, Victoria Square is an open ‘streetscape’ model. It responds to the existing urban grain, establishing new relationships between previously disjointed areas of the public realm.

The showpiece is the now iconic 37m diameter glass dome sitting high on a circular stone colonnade. The dome space serves as a circulation node, dramatised by a series of floating platforms, linking all levels and streets by lifts, stairs and escalators.

Victoria Square has now become synonymous with Belfast’s skyline, part of its image and character, and as memorable a characteristic as the City Hall or Harland & Wolff cranes.


From Victoria Square’s inception in 1998 to its completion a decade later, it has been recognised as a key part of Belfast’s (and Northern Ireland’s) urban regeneration. Before construction commenced in 2004, many milestones had to be reached, including the Planning Application, Appeals and Approval, Vesting Orders and signing of the Development Agreement by the client and DSD (Department for Social Development).

During the 3½ years on site, close collaboration between the client, architect team and Design and Build contractor ensured that the project remained on programme and within budget, maintaining a high standard of construction on a very complex site.

The brief demanded the provision of a new high quality mixed-use urban quarter which would stitch itself in to Belfast’s existing fabric, addressing the significant under-provision of retail space.

Victoria Square has delivered on every level promised. The vision was clear, and together with the design team and the contractor that vision has been achieved. With world-class architecture and a mix of new and exciting retailers, Victoria Square has put Belfast on the map as a true European shopping destination. The scheme is far more than the simple sum of its component parts: it is the new social and cultural meeting point of a once divided city.

Victoria Square has created a new urban quarter, and has addressed the under-provision of retail space, introducing world class shopping to the province. Victoria Square has fuelled an extended daytime economy by the provision of evening leisure facilities, and has provided a significant boost to the tourist industry.