Lyric Theatre, Belfast


Lyric Theatre, Belfast

The Lyric Theatre, Belfast is known for having developed some of Northern Ireland’s greatest theatrical talents.

Belfast-Lyric-TheatreLyric Theatre Belfast

When the Lyric’s redevelopment project began, Theatreplan was asked to meet a brief that demanded the new space should be capable of being both epic and intimate at the same time. The team responded by designing an exquisite, diamond-shaped auditorium, augmented by a creative seating plan and an adaptable proscenium stage, where connectivity can be altered by removing, or changing, the ‘fourth wall.’ No two rows contain the same number of seats and this asymmetrical layout, means each seat is positioned individually for an optimum view. The auditorium is single tier with side slips, with a central aisle carving a furrow from the rear entrance diagonally across the rows.

The stage engineering solutions had to work within constraints set by architects, O’Donnell + Tuomey’s design, for a V-shaped roof. Theatreplan proposed the rotation of the roof by 90 degrees, locating the point of the V across the front of the stage area. Having done this, we were able to design a grid structure that ran beneath this height downstage and then stepped up to full height towards the rear stage area, allowing for flying which in turn means a greater range of productions can be staged.

In addition to the 400-seat main auditorium, Theatreplan also designed a 170-seat theatre, The Naughton Studio named after the theatre’s main benefactor, Dr Martin Naughton.

In 2011 the redeveloped Lyric opened to wide acclaim. It was garnered with many awards including being nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize. Actor, Simon Callow, declared it, ‘The finest new theatre in the world’.

Photographs by Dennis Gilbert and Theatreplan

Seating capacity
400 / 120

Project venue type

Project build type
New build

O'Donnell & Tuomey

Completion date

Project value

Services provided
Auditorium design
Sound Stage engineering
Theatre planning

Project Awards


  • Architectural Association of Ireland (AAI) Special Award
  • Civic Trust Award
  • Department of Environment Planning and Development Award
  • Irish Concrete Society Awards: Overall Winner
  • The Liam McCormick Building of the Year Award
  • Northern Ireland Tourism Award:
  • Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award
  • RIAI Award
  • Royal Society of Ulster Architects Design Award:
  • Building of the Year
  • RIBA Stirling Prize short-list