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From a languishing botanical building to a must-see attraction, Purcell heritage consultants collaborated with Hall Black Douglas Architects for the spectacular renovation of the Tropical Ravine.

Thanks to an extensive conservation plan, the listed Victorian building called the Tropical Ravine in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens has been restored and transformed. Built in 1880, the ravine is home to some of the world’s oldest plants with an important collection conserving rare and tropical species.

Falling into disrepair and closing in 2014, Purcell was appointed to produce a conservation management plan and expert conservation advisor role to support Belfast architects Hall Black Douglas to undertake its restoration.

The new look ravine was inspired by the original Victorian design from 1887 with key historic features restored and unique details preserved. The ravine has been split over two levels, creating a wider walkway perimeter inspired by the Victorian vision of the interior.

The team restored the red brick walls and created a new entrance and open reception area on the ground floor next to the lily pond. The modernisation included improving energy efficiency with triple glazed windows in the walls and the roof to control the specific tropical environment. It also included integrating new digital exhibits and sensory facilities to enhance the visitor experience.

The much-needed renovation was generously funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Belfast City Council and the Friends of Botanic Gardens. Sir Peter Luff of the HLF stated, "The Tropical Ravine is a true heritage treasure that rewards visitors with a unique, entertaining and educational experience.”


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