Sound Yard wins CityPlay Early Career Design Competition


At this year’s Architecture Night Sound Yard was announced as the winning project of the RSUA/JP Corry CityPlay Design Competition in partnership with the Titanic Foundation. This project was designed by Hannah Wilson in collaboration with Matthew Kernan and Eunan Deeney. The competition challenged Early Career Architects to generate ideas for the integration of play into the landscape of Belfast city centre, specifically along the Maritime Mile.

The CityPlay Design Competition was open to any architect either living or born on the island of Ireland who has been actively in work as an architect for less than 15 years, consecutively or otherwise. The prize is to develop a concept with Titanic Foundation and to deliver the project. You can find out more about the competition’s purpose, eligibility, brief and submission requirements from the short CityPlay Design Competition Overview.

L-R: Joan McCoy, RSUA President; Chris McComb, JP Corry with winners of the RSUA JP Corry Early Career Design Competition Hannah Wilson, Matthew Kernan and Eunan Deeney.

Winning entry: Sound Yard

Winners’ submission:


The proposal aims to create a new focal play area along the Maritime mile as a place of to gather around and gather within. The Installation is centred around collaborative interaction, creating a place to play, perform and learn. Inspired by the noise of striking metal and different frequencies referenced from the old ship yard works in Belfast docks, the genesis of the idea evolved as a series of thoughts imagining how we could create an inclusive playful structure that in essence produced a collection of sounds from repurposed metal pipework. We imagine this sound not to be as it was in the ship yard days, but a sound more familiar to children from their toys and belongings. A sound that creates joy, for the present of the children playing within the structure and reminiscent for that of the adults around. The design celebrates the history and seeks to reinvigorate the route by creating vibrancy, activity and intriguing sounds once more. Interaction with ‘sound yard’ we believe will re-connect and educate the children of the significance of the ship yard in our city.

Delivery Timeframe:

It it our aim that the proposal can be delivered without the need of specialist equipment or plant hire and without any technical expertise or engineering. We seek further to ensure the scheme can be dismounted and re-erected in any variety of sites across the maritime mile with relative ease and with little or no destruction of materials. We estimate this project to be ready within a short programme period if selected.


We propose that the budget for the scheme will be kept to a minimum by utilising easily accessible building materials acquired from local general building merchants. The proposed materials are sought to be repurposed from a previous life and expressed for their unique characteristics. Furthermore, labour costs and plant hire and will be kept to a minimum with the relatively simple construction of the proposed scheme.


The structure of the installation is temporary in nature and will have minimal impact on the current condition of the site. The design is derived as a series of lightweight metal tubular elements suspended from a timber structure. The base of the structure carriers a track system which houses a device and encourages users to interact with the structure to create sounds. We have designated a specific location for the installation, but as this mechanism is held within the structure, we envisage that the design could be relocated along the length of the mile as required.

Circular economy:

Once the structure is removed, the tubular metal elements can be repurposed and used to contribute towards the creation of play structures within neighbourhood play parks.


The installation will be covered by a top plate ensuring that there is no vertical rain entering the installation. Around the perimeter, we propose a lightweight translucent material that will further shield the internal users from he elements whilst also mitigating any potential sound leakage to an extent. Due to the installation being made up of a constellation of individual smaller members that form the main musical instrument internally, we feel that this will be able to minimise any vandalism in terms of graffiti or markings due to the nature of the elements. However, in the case that they are destroyed or stolen if ripped from their tracks that they are hung, they will be easily replaceable as we intend to use only materials from int easily supply from all general building merchants. We see this delivery and construction of this installation similar to that of a temporary stage set that happens on a regular basis in the immediate area, so we force their to be minimal disruption to any local businesses or residents and users of the walkway.


We propose the location of our site to be within the grassed area of the sunken point adjacent to the Odyssey. We have specifically chosen this areas as we feel it is perfectly situated in order to gain most exposure and footfall for the target age demographic geared towards. We feel that the our proposal will complement the experience children and adults will have within W5. The collaborative nature of the installation and its desired effect to make a series of pleasant noises by children working as a team we feel tie in subconsciously with the scientific experience of W5.

Judges & Citation

The judging panel for the RSUA JP Corry CityPlay Design Competition was:

Donal MacRandalRSUA President-Elect (Panel Chair)
Kerrie SweeneyTitanic Foundation
Chris McCombJP Corry
Sean DolanBelfast City Council
John FitzgeraldRSUA Design Quality Panel

The winning entry was unanimously selected by the Judges.  The design offers interactive play opportunities while evoking the sounds of the former ship yard.  It also integrates well into the existing landscape and creates a marker along the pedestrian route from the city centre to the maritime mile attractions. The Judges considered the entry concept will enable development of a practical scheme that can be delivered within the time and budget available.

Commended entries

Play³ by Fergal Rainey with Sean Sloan
The Judges were impressed by the detailing of this design and its connection with both the crane tracks and Mickey Marley’s roundabout.

The City, Room for Play by David Magennis with Bonnie Chau
The Judges were impressed by the beautiful drawings and the architectural quality of this entry.

Welcome to Sailortown by Fearghal Murray with Ben Weir and Erin McQuillan supported by Alissa and Sean from Household Arts
The Judges were impressed by the potential positive impact of this design on Sailortown and hope that it will inspire action to achieve a better use for this site than use as an overflow car park.

To view a full list of entrants to the RSUA JP Corry CityPlay Design Competition, click here.