Beacon For Belfast
Topglass have been appointed to manufacture and install the unique glazing to what will become another iconic point of interest in Belfast.
Mew Island Lighthouse Optic is one of the largest optics of its kind ever constructed, and is around 130 years old. Weighing 10 tonnes and measuring 7 metres tall, the optic is a unique heritage object with significance to Belfast’s economic, maritime and industrial past.
Mew Island lighthouse, on the outermost of the Copeland Islands, is one of the tallest lighthouses in Ireland. The island was an important Aid to Navigation at the southern entrance to Belfast Lough, built at a time when Belfast was the world-centre of linen, ship-building and rope-making, and one of the most important ports in the world. The optic was removed when the lighthouse was updated and automated in 2014/15. Titanic Foundation and the Commissioner of Irish Lights are now working together to bring the optic to Titanic Quarter, the home of maritime heritage in Belfast.
The optic will be restored and housed in a new interpretive structure, designed to last for 100 years and made to resemble a lighthouse lantern room where it will add a remarkable element to the Titanic Quarter public realm. It is estimated that at least 100,000 visitors per annum will view the optic. With free public access it will tell the story of lighthouses, their technological development, their light keepers, and their role in the proud maritime & industrial heritage of Belfast and Ulster.
In May 2016 Titanic Foundation, in partnership with the Royal Society of Ulster Architects, ran a Design Competition for an iconic structure to protect and preserve the Mew Island Lighthouse Optic. Twelve firms submitted proposals with Hall McKnight, a Belfast & London based Architectural Practice, named as the winners of the competition. Hall McKnight’s design was selected as the judging panel felt it clearly caught the vision of the project, and allowed the craftsmanship and beauty of this unique object to be clearly presented to a new audience.
Topglass worked closely with the architects to design a 6m diameter x 8m high curved toughened laminated frameless glass enclosure completed with a special ceramic frit pattern that both helps disguise some of the internal support structure and adds an artistic dimension to the enclosure that is complimentary to the optic.
The optic’s new location will be on the Titanic Walkway, being developed as a pedestrian walkway located at the bottom of the Titanic & Olympic Slipways and connecting them to the Alexandra Dock, home to HMS Caroline and the Thompson Dock. The optic building will be completed during the autumn / winter of 2017.