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All About Cathedral Gardens

Completed by the MARTIN team with Landscape Architect Parkhood and Belfast City Council, the newly developed Cathedral Gardens in Belfast City Centre was officially opened by Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Frank McCoubery in August 2020.

The £300,000 project set out to provide a multi-functional public space for the city, developing the existing Cathedral Gardens into a new landscaped, family-friendly zone.

With the gardens now being open for a handful of months, and a much-welcomed area of the city, we wanted to share more about this fantastic project, and how it all came together.


The Initial Brief

Due to the configuration of the space, and the lack of activity within it, Cathedral Gardens became an under-utilised and at the time, misused space which also suffered the effects of anti-social behaviour. Belfast City Council wanted to rejuvenate the gardens to become a multi-functional space for both adults and children alike.

As a result of the council’s vision, stakeholder engagement with both adults and children was introduced from the beginning of the project in order to better identify the potential uses of the area, and how the ideas generated could be embedded into the final design. Ideas included children’s play, exhibition space, seating and ‘urban play’ for older age groups.

The main public space is also not well-lit, and innovative approaches to lighting and evening use were also considered at this point of the project. The overall design needed to balance hard and soft landscaping and contribute to a vibrant and colourful space with interest for everybody.


The Design

In order to transform the gardens into the bright, colourful and welcoming space required, Artificial Grass Direct and MARTIN worked together to embed a vibrant and brightly coloured finish to the area’s flooring. The original design was to lay the coloured artificial grass in a contoured arrangement however it soon became apparent that cutting to curves would have resulted in a patchy finish with too many cuts and seams. The overall result of the flooring couldn’t have turned out any better, and the giant spinning hamster wheel, a swinging bridge and colourful mushrooms perfectly complement the carpet of rainbow grass supplied by Artificial Grass Direct.


The Future of Cathedral Gardens

The Cathedral Gardens new use of space will be in place until March 2022 which is why the design of the space is sustainable and appropriate given the temporary nature of the scheme. The council aim to re-use and relocate particular elements of the scheme post-2022 for use on other pop-up schemes including the range of seating and the play equipment.

Although we have been involved in many projects, this one, in particular, stands out in terms of success to the local community. From what was previously a dimly lit area, attracting anti-social behaviour, now lies a multi-functional space that attracts students, city dwellers, workers and families alike. In fact, many MARTIN colleagues have visited the area post-completion and we have received high reviews from their very own children – an incredible endorsement for us to have. Since its opening in August, the space has become a much-loved and well-used area, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.