The new Lyric Theatre is a striking and much-anticipated new home for a theatre within unique status in Belfast. The architects respond to the considerable design challenges presented by its location with gusto. The steeply sloping river frontage within a tightly unit fabric of brick terraced houses presented a demanding agenda for a building destined to be a public facility in a domestic environment capable of accommodating huge numbers in the auditorium, studio and rehearsal room. The architects met the challenge admirably. The line of brick terraces seems to flow in to the Lyric’s facade and masses in a gentle crescendo, as do the visitors as one is pulled inside and upwards.
The theatre is both modest and self-confident, deferential and assertive. The dramatic entry stairs, the areas for gathering and the tactile nature of the interior all lead to the enveloping, dark and dramatic space of the theatre itself. The long-anticipated completion of the Lyric Theatre has proved more than worthwhile. The quality of the interior spaces, its sensitive response to a challenging site and the expansion of the Lyric’s ability to function behind the scenes make this a stunning accomplishment and a pleasure to spend time in.
from Stirling Prize shortlist citation