RISE (sculpture)

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Rise Belfast.png
  • Wolfgang Buttress
  • Engineers: Price & Myers
  • Contractor: GRAHAM Construction
  • Steel Fabricator: Hasson and Sons
Dimensions37.5 m × 30 m (123 ft × 98 ft)

RISE is the official name given to the public art sculpture located at Broadway Roundabout in Belfast, Northern Ireland.[1] However, it has been given unofficial, colloguial titles such as the "Balls of the Falls", "the Testes on the Westes" and "the Westicles".[2] These names have been derived by both the sculptures location on Broadway Junction (located above the A12 Westlink and in close proximity to the Falls Road)[3] and in reference to its shape made from two, spherical, metal structures.[4]

The RISE sculpture was designed by Wolfgang Buttress and consists of a geodesic sphere suspended inside a larger, 30m (98ft) diameter sphere and stands at an overall height of 37.5m (123ft).[5]. Geodesic refers to the shortest path between two points on a curve so that in the case of the RISE sculpture, adjacent connections on each of the spheres are connected using straight bars, thereby minimising the distance between two points.[5] At 3om wide and 37.5m tall, RISE is the biggest public art sculpture in Belfast.[6]

RISE was commissioned by Belfast City Council[1] and built in 2011[7] as part of a multimillion-pound road improvement programme.[8] It now sits atop of the A12 Westlink Underpass (a grade-separated junction) where, according to a 2009 NI assembly report, sees approximately 80,000 cars on average flow past it each day.[9]

Concept and Construction[edit]

RISE during construction

The globe-shaped, white and silver steel sculpture is a representation of a new sun rising to celebrate a new chapter in the history of Belfast.[8] The inner sphere represents the sun rising over the bogs and the outer sphere represents the sun's halo, while the angled, steel supports are to represent the reeds of the bog meadows that extended more widely across the area before it was developed.[5] Due to the Belfast's history of conflict and the location of the Westlink separating some of Belfast's unionist and nationalist communities, the sculpturer noted that it was important to design a sculpture that could be viewed in its 'roundness' from any angle and therefore any political or religious persuasion.[10]

The sculptor encouraged input from local people living near the landmark sculpture, including the holding of creative workshops with groups from the Donegall Road and St James' areas of Belfast.[8] This sculpture was favoured above others because of how it represents Belfast's positive outlook for a peaceful future. It was also favoured for its shape, which has neither a front or back but can be viewed equally from all angles.

Belfast City Council coordinated the plans for the new sculpture with strong support and funding from the Department for Social Development (Regeneration Directorate) and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund, through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland as well as advice and assistance from Department for Regional Development Roads Service.

Construction of the piece was challenging.[11] The steel was fabricated by M Hasson and Sons Ltd in Rasharkin. GRAHAM Construction were appointed Principal Contractor and supervised the on site erection.

Work on RISE was due to begin in August 2009 and end in October 2009.[12] However, due to delays the completion date was changed to March 2011.[13] It was finally completed in September 2011, nearly two years behind the original schedule.[14]


The artwork is made of two geodesic spheres supported on slender stanchions. The engineers, Price & Myers, made extensive use of the work done by Buckminster Fuller in the 1950s. The outer sphere has a geodesic frequency of 8. It required 1920 tubes to be bolted together. Tensigrity – another concept developed by Buckminster Fuller – is used to hold the inner sphere in position.


Buttress was selected after intense competition from more than 40 artists from the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and internationally.

There had been a previous competition and previous winner: Trillian by Ed Carpenter. However, plans were scrapped amid escalating steel costs, which threatened to raise the price of the sculpture, originally agreed at £400,000, to £600,000.[15][16]

Cost and Funding[edit]

Originally, the sculpture concept was estimated at a cost of £400,000.[17] This final cost was reported in the region of £486,000, with £330,000 coming from the Department for Social Development, £100,000 coming from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and £56,000 being supplied by Belfast City Council itself.[18]


In October 2009 school children and senior citizens from across Belfast worked with New Belfast Community Arts Initiative, local writers and the artist, Buttress, to look at plans for RISE, and to learn more about creative expression through workshops. The workshops were designed to give people an insight into the process involved in creating the sculpture, to give an opportunity to reflect on what it symbolises for Belfast, and to offer their own creative insights in response.[19]


For the most part, the RISE sculpture has been widely accepted. Others may express discontent over spending on arts. However, the realisation is that the £500,000 for the sculpture represented a cash-injection into the economy providing wages to local suppliers, fabricators and builders.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Belfast Ball". Culture Northern Ireland. 14 November 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  2. ^ "RISE sculpture in Belfast, Wolfgang Buttress Artwork locally known as the Balls on the Falls, The Westicles, or the Testes on the Westes". alamy. 1 May 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  3. ^ Google (28 January 2020). Rise'+Sculpture'/@54.5887068,-5.9572693,16.56z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x4861088f2f10146d:0xe44ad9fc28418bc8!8m2!3d54.5887663!4d-5.9585488?hl=en "'Rise' Sculpture" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Sculpture is 'new icon' for Belfast". Belfast Telegraph. 26 December 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "Rise, 2011, Belfast". Wolfgang Buttress. 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Rise Sculpture". Visit Belfast. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Police called to deal with man who scaled 40-metre high RISE sculpture in west Belfast". Belfast Telegraph. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "New landmark rises from rubble". BBC News. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  9. ^ Written answers to questions: Official report (Hansard) (PDF) (Report). 76. Northern Ireland Assembly. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  10. ^ Cite error: The named reference Wolfang Buttress was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  11. ^ http://www.mmiengineering.com/news.aspx?id=12
  12. ^ "This is Nottingham". This is Nottingham. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Rise sculpture at Broadway Roundabout. Belfast City Council". Belfastcity.gov.uk. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  14. ^ "Rise sculpture unveiled in Belfast". U.tv. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  15. ^ "BBC Newsline". BBC News. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Belfast Telegraph". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Belfast Telegraph. 23 July 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  17. ^ {{cite web|url=https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/new-broadway-sculpture-to-rise-above-the-city-28454800.html%7Ctitle=https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/new-broadway-sculpture-to-rise-above-the-city-28454800.html%7Cpublisher=Belfast Telegraph|date=19 November 2018|access-date=28 January 2020
  18. ^ {{cite web|url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13140121%7Ctitle=Delay RISE sculpture on Broadway roundabout under way|publisher=Belfast Telegraph|date=20 April 2011|access-date=28 January 2020
  19. ^ "Belfast City Council". Belfastcity.gov.uk. 19 October 2009. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°35′19″N 5°57′31″W / 54.58868°N 5.95854°W / 54.58868; -5.95854