Ulster Hall Belfast

Project – Ulster Hall Belfast
Consultant Engineers – BDP
Builders – Grahams
Contractor -Litton Group
The Heating Solution – Zehdner Nova


The History

The Ulster Hall is a Victorian music hall designed by local architect William Barre and opened in 1862. It contains the world-famous Mulholland Grand Organ, which was donated to the city by local linen baron and former Lord Mayor Andrew Mulholland.

In its first 50 years the Hall hosted Charles Dickens, Ellen Terry, Lord Randolph Churchill and many other significant performers. Throughout the Second World War it was extensively used as a dance hall for American troops billeted in Belfast. Since then the Ulster Hall has hosted major boxing champions, thousands of music concerts from classical to punk and dance, a huge variety of important events and performances including dances, lectures, readings and a rich tradition of dramatic performances in the Group Theatre. The building is currently home to the Ulster Orchestra, which rehearses and performs regularly in the Grand Hall.

Following extensive refurbishment, the Ulster Hall reopened in 2009 with a foyer café, a purpose built gallery for our 13 oil paintings by Victorian artist Joseph Carey, and the redesigned Group Space gallery and performance space.


The Solution

The heating solution proposed and used for this project was the Jaga low h2o Mini Canal units for the glazed areas within the building – to prevent the build-up of condensation and the Zehnder Nova Radiator for their rigid quality and aesthetical finish.

Jaga Mini Canal:

Perfect for providing heat alongside glazed facades, the Mini Canal is discreet and convenient – especially as it is delivered fully-assembled and ready to fit. The heater is extremely versatile, with its varying depth, size and multiple grille material options. The Mini Canal uses Low-H2O technology, saving energy costs while remaining highly responsive to temperature changes.


Zehnder Nova – Vertical & Horizontal:

Supplied in vertical or horizontal versions and in a wide range that includes double panels or combinations of panel and convector fins, the Zehnder Nova provided the total solution for the Guild Hall In Derry.

Advantages for use within this project are as follows:

Low water content with efficient, fast heat up

Durable powder coat finish (Standard RAL9016 white)

Wide range of colours including metallic finishes

Horizontal (H) and Vertical (V) types available

Floor mounted options

Raised access floor application option

High pressure options

Bespoke connection positions, vertical or horizontal entry

Tested to current EN442 requirements


2009 refurbishment

In 2007, a major refurbishment plan was initiated by the Consarc Design Group, under the direction of architect and Everest mountaineer Dawson Stelfox. The main aim of the refurbishment was to restore the venue back to its original condition, while also modernising the building’s facilities and providing better disabled access.

The £8.5 million project included

  • Refit and redecoration of the Grand Hall, including reopening the windows which had been covered since the 1980s
  • Installation of new removable seating on ground floor
  • Recreation of the original metal balcony balustrade and chandeliers
  • Installation of new roof, floors and a moveable stage extension
  • Installation of new high-specification sound, heating, lighting and air-conditioning systems
  • Upgrade of toilet facilities
  • New five-storey extension at the rear of the building, providing modern dressing rooms, education suites, meeting and administration facilities and the offices of the Ulster Orchestra
  • New box office facilities
  • Restoration of Joseph Carey’s paintings of Belfast scenes (see above) and development of new dedicated new gallery space for their display
  • New interpretative display telling the history of the hall
  • Conversion of the adjoining minor hall (formerly the Group Theatre) into circulation space, bar and café

The refurbishment was performed by Graham Building Contractors and was jointly funded by Belfast City Council, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The hall was reopened with a gala event on 6 March 2009

Previously stated as 1,850, the seated capacity of the refurbished hall is 1,000. Since the reopening, the hall has provided a rehearsal home and (from June 2009) administrative offices for the Ulster Orchestra.

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