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Railway Gallery, Ulster Transport Museum


This project received a commendation at the Structural Steelwork Design Awards, with the judges saying the building was ‘practically designed with elegance, simplicity and economy.’

The reception building incorporates a 40-seater audio-visual studio on high ground adjoining the turntable site, which had to remain at the level of the Belfast-Bangor line of NI Railways. A glazed bridge linking Reception to the Gallery stands 4.5m above the Gallery floor.

The barrel-vaulted roof incorporates expressed, curved, tubular spaceframes. Gable bracing integrates with horizontal tie trusses to provide longitudinal stability as well as support to gable sheeting rails. The design evolved from merged architectural and structural ideas that reflect Victorian railway sheds such St Pancras.

Reinforced concrete buttresses at either side of the gallery dispose of the arch thrust forces from the roof. This was complicated to one side where the buttresses had to be integrated with the plantroom, and load-paths determined additional cross-walls within the plantroom’s ‘box’ structure.  The design of the buttresses allows air ducts to pass directly into the space frame trusses that support flexible ducts, so minimising obtrusive structures within the space.

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