Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre

  • The Giant’s Causeway is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland
  • A building that merges into the landscape its green roof allows visitors to walk over the building
  • Arup's fire strategy on this visitor centre was delivered to best international practice.

A new visitor centre for Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction, the Giant’s Causeway, opened in summer 2012. The centre is a single storey building that cuts into the existing landscape, making use of the large difference in level across the site. This allows the centre to merge into the hillside, becoming a part of the landscape rather than a distraction from it.

A crucial element of the design is the way it maintains visitors’ uninterrupted views of the surrounding countryside from the site’s ridgeline. This guarantees that the visual focus remains the UNESCO-protected stones themselves rather than man-made elements. Arup provided geotechnical, structural engineering and fire services, developing solutions to realise the architectural vision whilst protecting the site from unnecessarily invasive works.

The building is partially underground, with retaining walls along the back and a glazed front façade. A green roof is created from folds in the landscape, allowing visitors to walk over the building from the car park to the ridgeline. Glazed roof lights allow natural light into the exhibition space below.

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  • View from the roof of the building, showing how the centre cuts into the landscape to remain hidden from view when visitors look out to the Giant’s Causeway © Marie-Louise Halpenny   Open gallery

    The building cuts into the landscape, remaining hidden from view when visitors look out to the Giant’s Causeway.