Perspective Magazine - Jan/Feb 2009

Excite Exhibition and Display is the latest arrival to the Knockmore Industrial Estate, Lisburn. Excite’s successful growth in recent years has exposed them as international providers of
exhibition and display products, leading to a requirement of new manufacturing and showroom premises. The chosen site lies in the industrial core of the new city of Lisburn, the existing context of large scale, regular form units in a modern, robust style creating an ideal location for the project.

Paul McAlister Architects won the commission in September 2006 after the client’s brief requested something contemporary which would ‘stand out from the crowd’ in much the same way as their own exhibition products do. The concept was a blue box dissected by a vertical wall or fin, marking the entrance to the building while serving as a visual and physical barrier between the reception and the main office / exhibition area.

This ‘fin’ soon became the focus of the building, with the decision to further emphasise the element by finishing it in a contrasting cladding colour while sloping the front face. The
orange ‘fin’ is angled in plan, creating a natural approach and drawing visitors towards the main entrance, which is recessed to further accentuate the elemental nature of the building facade.

When entering the building, the reception area is a double height space, with the main staircase to one side expressed as a sculptural, floating element within the space. This staircase is situated at the end of a processional route along a gallery looking down over the reception and beyond to the front car-park of the building. The double height space, allied with an imposing two storey glazed entrance, is thereby viewed and appreciated more with each use of the staircase,while a large water fountain placed to one side accentuates the theatrical nature of the entrance foyer.