The Crescent Art Centre was founded in the early 1980s and encourages and enables community participation in the visual and performance arts in Belfast through a number of events including dance and theatre performances, multicultural arts workshops, book readings and debates, arts festivals and art classes and workshops in music, dance and visual arts.

Due to a lack of investment in the maintenance of the building, much of the structure fell into a state of disrepair. By the early 1990s more than half of the building was unfit for use and left unoccupied. A campaign was launched to upgrade and improve existing facilities and offer a sustainable solution to the provision of new arts facilities to enable the continuation of the development of the Crescent’s programme.

Housed in a listed former Victorian college, the Crescent was redesigned and refurbished to meet two central aims: protect and preserve the existing building as a landmark for Belfast and create new and accessible arts spaces for artists and the local community.

Reconciling these two aims was a key challenge to be met by the client and architect. It was crucial that the integrity of the existing building be maintained while at the same time ensuring that the design for the refurbishment of the Crescent met the needs of a diversity of users. DQI was the way to inform and consult a wide stakeholder group about the refurbishment in order to ensure that the design was meeting these central client expectations. The need to emphasise accessibility in design as a priority beyond statutory requirements was highlighted.