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 a concept £400,000[1] public art spherical metal sculpture in Belfast by Wolfgang Buttress.[2] It is 37.5 metres (123 ft) high and 30 metres (98 ft) wide[3] and was constructed in early 2011[4] in the centre of the Broadway roundabout, at the junction of the Westlink and M1 motorway, a main gateway to the city[5] where (as of 2009) more than 80,000 cars on average flow past it each day.[6] It is informally known as The Balls on the Falls [7] as this junction also gives access to the Falls Road area via Broadway. Another nickname is The Westicles as the sculpture is located in West Belfast.

RISE is visible for miles around the city.[8] The area is part of a multimillion-pound road improvement programme.[8] It is the biggest public art sculpture in Belfast. Work on RISE was due to begin in August 2009 and end in October 2009,[9] however due to delays the completion date was changed to March 2011.[4] It was finally completed in September 2011, nearly two years behind the original schedule.[10] When completed it became Belfast's largest public artwork.[11]


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. The angled, steel columns are to represent the reeds of the bog meadows that extended more widely across the area before it was developed. The inner sphere represents the sun rising over the bogs and the outer sphere represents the sun's halo.

The sculptor encouraged input from local people living near the landmark sculpture. He held creative workshops with groups from the Donegall Road and St James' areas of Belfast. 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.[12] The steel was fabricated by M Hasson and Sons Ltd in Rasharkin. GRAHAM Construction were appointed Principal Contractor and supervised the on site erection.


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.[13][14]


The sculpture was funded by Belfast City Council, the Department for Social Development and the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.[8]


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.[11]


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. ^ "Culture Northern Ireland". Culture Northern Ireland. 14 November 2008. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  2. ^ Silver, Katie (26 December 2011). "Belfast has a ball: Giant new £500,000 'Meccano' artwork unveiled to promote peace in region". Daily Mail. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ "Belfast City Council". Belfastcity.gov.uk. 13 November 2008. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Rise sculpture at Broadway Roundabout. Belfast City Council". Belfastcity.gov.uk. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  5. ^ Northern Ireland Tourist Board Archived 16 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Written answers to questions: Official report (Hansard) (PDF) (Report). 76. Northern Ireland Assembly. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  7. ^ "New landmark rises from rubble". BBC. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  8. ^ a b c "BBC News". BBC News. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  9. ^ "This is Nottingham". This is Nottingham. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Rise sculpture unveiled in Belfast". U.tv. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Belfast City Council". Belfastcity.gov.uk. 19 October 2009. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  12. ^ http://www.mmiengineering.com/news.aspx?id=12
  13. ^ "BBC Newsline". BBC News. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  14. ^ "Belfast Telegraph". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Belfast Telegraph. 23 July 2008. 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