Night Walk – City Hall Belfast 8/4/2013 – 17/12/2013

Below are a series of notes taken while walking the same road each Monday night for one year in Belfast. Mistakes and all, these are written and presented without any further thought than simply documenting and reacting to what was seen.
8.4.2013, 10.20pm: Snow blue

15.4.2013, 10.15pm: White-blue, lit from underneath with orange-yellow LEDs

22.4.2013, 10.16pm: White-Green, striped with rectangular orange gradients, the pinnacle is illuminated in white orange. More than any other point.

29.4.2013, 10.15pm: White lights on composite pilasters, lilac lights the pediments, orange glows by the columns.

13.5.2013, 10.16pm: A Crescent moon rests behind the left turret, a twilight sky of blue surrounding. White light illuminates the lower portion of the central dome, brightest at the soffit highest up.

20.5.2013, 10.16pm: Twilight clouds hang as a mist above, silhouettes of trees block the lower levels, the upper dome glows in grey white light. Wind blows sparse rain.

3.06.2013, 10.14pm: The sun beginning to set in the distance. Single car(s) drive past. The sky is lightly overcast to the horizon. Faint orange and pink lights the soffits and centres of the colonnade. The city is quiet.

10.06.2013, 10.15pm: Daylight. Working traffic, that of a bus, a van. Etc. The halls façade is dark, a gradient of greys and mottled stone. Not even the windows are alive. The traffic moves on.

17.06.2013, 10.17pm: The air is still, but cool. Road works in the distance, and a bus, a car and a taxi wait in line at the traffic lights. City hall glows only at its peripherals. On the ground floor however, a doorway it illuminated. In the distant an arachnid-esque copper pinnacle tops a church’s spire. I walk past my semi-circle of the wall of columns. A renaissance Stonehenge in the city. 6 days until the solstice.

24.6.2013, 10.16pm: The solstice has turned. The daylight I expect will fade. For tonight though it is here, it is bright on the horizon, the sky clear. City hall contrasts lightly against it, the orange lights towards its soffits resemble faint streaks of warm sunlight. Yet the air is cool and crisp. The uniformity of the wide footpath cracked and broken by the varying shades of slab, signs of a city which has repaired itself. To my side are the bouquets that scatter the base of the memorial in the colonnade.

1.7.2013, 10.17pm:  I begin writing around two minutes before the corner which revels city hall. There’s an anticipation. Something that was created by the task, recording the changes, the constants which we take for granted. Street lights exchange places with trees sporadically and the shadows of fence tops cast a spine on the pavement. Turn. City Hall is dark. Empty, there are no lights on its face. The green of a traffic light symbolises a juxtaposition that the quiet hall enforces only further. 10.19pm.

8.7.2014, 10.15pm: The sky is starting to darken. The heat still rests on the valleys of the street, between its buildings, the air is still. City hall is as a block of cool ice, piercing the warmth around it. Lit in purple and blue across the entirety of its dirty white façade. Turn back. The streets funnel into the distance, focused on a tower, a tower by Belfast standards anyway, stamps its mark, highlighted by banners of light along it’s…A word. A simple word is missing.

15.7.2013, 10.16pm: Languishing heat. Caution. Violent riots taint the streets, the aftermath of a decision made in aid of preventing the dialectical riots of the year previous. But still, City Hall today is lit. Softly, with amber, pulling shadows from the concave porticoes and sharp pilasters. A scent (much too pleasant a word) of warm tarmac and animal hang, still, in the air.

22.7.2013, 10.15pm: Blinking light. A spotlight above the wall to a car park screams above all others. Is this really the most important thing to this city? Where to park, this is the signal that portrays lights role in our contemporary society. Still, the sky is on the darker side of the gradient, heat rests in the air, but summer is passing none the less. A smell of freshly baked shortbread mixes with the scent of flowers, a surprising pleasant welcome to the city centre.

29.7.2013, 10.16pm: Left over rain and the scent of flowers. Belfast however retains its harsh, raw façade.

5.8.2013, 10.14pm: Darkness, twilight has passed, streets glow with orange globes of light, beaming down like lanterns amongst the fog like an age long gone. The slabs beneath my soles covered in patches of moss, dirt edged with murky waters. Roads, impassable overgrowths of wild rush and hawthorn. Hall, a hut. Encrusted in clay, twigs and dried leaf salvaged from nature to man’s goal.

12.8.2013, 10.14pm:  Last? Shards burn in the night sky, lights akin to the 20th century cliché of LA emit from the bomb proofed hotel. Belfast’s Holy Grail is dark. See., 10.15pm: A month. Enough to chill the air and darken the skies. The city seems emptier, but the edge of sight is intimately close. Like an entity it becomes a boundary. Edges evaporate in the night, City Hall looms full of ominous presence. The rain begins.

Wednesday 2.10.2013, 8.14pm: A new day, evening, night. The past 3 have rained heavily. Relentless, Monday’s cycle home was a fantastic experience. A drowning city, littered in story. Belfast entertains the rain like man does a warm fire on a winter’s day. It is kind to see the short streets vanish in the haze. Blue tints white against the dark orange greys of an illuminated (polluted) city.

25.11.2013, 10.15pm: A different route today, guided by the light. Blue sparkles in a gallery window, white fireflies rest on the trees as warm semi-Parisian street lanterns edge the garden. City hall glows in washes of turquoise, its windows surrounded with yellow and the whites of stars. The market lies dormant, resting after the day’s work. Patiently recovering for the foray of tomorrow.

17.12.2013.10.17pm: The last walk of the year, a façade of lights and the festive season. Doesn’t it seem shallow when it’s built on all that came before?


Belfast’s glittering oil rig





Sight, touch, sound. All these senses play significant roles in mans creation of new experience. But our sense of smell, capable of holding onto thousands more subtle memories than our eyes, and of unconsciously connecting to our emotive sense more than any sound, is neglected. Upon walking towards a bus stop in Belfast at 10.22pm, 4/3/2013, I catch the aftersent of dust and city still warm from the rare sunlight of the day, and I recall a late night walk through the gridiron extension to Barcelona, more vividly than ever. Yet It sounds strange to talk to you about it, to raise the point of remembering through smells. Why is this not a more predominant part of design, and not more significant within the creations and replications that take place in our post industrial world?

Human Condition

We underestimate the frailty of the human condition. Our tasks distract us. But there is a beauty in realising the finite nature of biology and the power we all control, when even in this short period of time we can bring so much creation and imagination to our lonely planet.