Specifier Review
Titanic visitor centre, Belfast

Titanic visitor centre, Belfast

The Titanic Visitor Centre in Belfast is the city’s newest, most impressive and popular attraction, boasting a unique multi-faceted aluminium facade, Ireland’s longest lift and a sculptural geometric roof with a hidden water drainage solution and rainwater harvesting, courtesy of Geberit’s Pluvia and HDPE systems.

Located adjacent to the Grade A listed nineteenth century drawing offices where the Titanic was designed, and the slipways on which this iconic ship was launched, the Visitor Centre tells the story of the Titanic, with its upper floors accommodating 1,000 diners in banquet halls and function rooms. The centrepiece of a regeneration project which sees 75 hectares of industrial brownfield transformed, the building was constructed using ground-breaking techniques and includes a range of sustainable strategies; Combined Heat and Power Generation, 56,000 litre rainwater harvesting and intelligent lighting; on target for BREEAM Excellent accreditation.

“The project was extremely demanding, due to the complicated geometry of the building and the fact it was ‘fast-tracked’, meaning that the design and construction proceeded in parallel. Geberit’s products and their team proved extremely flexible, providing a drainage solution to a truly unique roof,” explained Angus Waddington, from Todd Architects.

“The building is located in the centre of a plaza, fronted by historic monuments, which means there are no rear facades. It was therefore essential that services and plant were located elsewhere and not on the facades or roof-scape. The sculptural form of the roof, designed to mimic the bow of a boat, was hard to put into practice: the final design we came up with consisted of a 10 degree mono-pitched roof with walk-in secret gutters, falling tangentially at 5.2 and 5.6 degrees. Dams were designed across the two, 60 metre long gutters, enabling water to collect about the siphonic outlet, before cascading into the next dam.”

The Geberit solution:

The roof’s drainage was supplied courtesy of Geberit’s Pluvia system, which is based on intelligent negative pressure suction. High-performance Geberit Pluvia roof outlets are linked together directly under the roof with a non-sloping collector pipe. Large roof areas can therefore be drained through a single discharge stack; simplifying planning, reducing construction time and minimising the need and consequent outlay for underground drain connections and surface lines.

Unlike conventional roof drainage methods, the Geberit Pluvia system functions as a siphonic system, ensuring the drainage pipe system can fill up completely, thus generating a negative pressure in the pipeline. This negative pressure rapidly draws the rainwater by suction from the roof area, instead of merely allowing it to drain away.


“Conventional gravity outlets would not have been feasible with the volume of water collected and channelled into these ‘flumes’ and a traditional weir overflow couldn’t be formed without interrupting the facade geometry and spoiling the form of the building. To combat these issues, an additional overflow system was installed. Geberit rose to the challenge of solving these potential issues and seemed to relish the opportunity to do something ‘different’. They were fully supportive, providing technical assistance and calculations to review the unusual performance criteria,” Angus concluded.

Geberit’s HDPE Drainage system was also used for all the soils and wastes, plus rainwater harvesting, which was overseen by Robert Hall from the Harvey Group. HDPE is a total solution for a wide range of drainage applications made from High Density Polythene, a simple compound of carbon and hydrogen atoms which is harmless to the environment and completely recyclable.