Storytelling has no place in Belfast, in that while it might be the subject of pub conversation or occasional events, the art of the narrative has never been given a permanent home. As the library book is given a shelf, a storyteller should also be given a stage. Folklore is the foundation of Northern Ireland and Belfast’s history, existing both visually and psychologically throughout its landscape and streets. In centuries past, the words of law and tales in Ireland were told purely through a spoken medium. Every inflection given by the storytellers has travelled and lived on, creating the folklore and histories known today. Similar to the murals and graffiti on the peace walls, symbolisms and meaning are too often lost in the backdrop of the contemporary city. An art, which has influenced and given so much to Belfast, deserves its own residence. My proposal is a building that will not only house folklore in pages and voice but also structure, expressing stories physically as building elements.
Taking inspiration from one of the most famous tales of Northern Ireland, the fanciful Giant’s Causeway is a landscape, which has inspired many of the cultural mythologies told today. As such Blackstaff Square will transform into its own causeway, one that will inspire and revive the art of storytelling. A sanctuary of folklore and performance that will repair the city’s severed ties to its cultural heart. Those drawn to the centre will be immersed into the invisible world of folklore seen all around them. It is an experience presenting the context within context and the hidden stories and histories that exists everywhere and nowhere in Belfast.