Thursday, 30 September 2010

Belfast On The Move: new transport plans for Belfast

Image via Gryts on Flickr
News from DRD on their new Belfast on the Move proposals, which will seek "to develop a sustainable transport system to serve the central area. This will be focused on improved public transport services, better facilities for walking and cycling and a reduction in the dominance of travel by private car."


30 September 2010
Radical shake up for traffic in Belfast City Centre announced

Transport Minister Conor Murphy today launched the consultation process for an ambitious Traffic Masterplan for Belfast city centre entitled ‘Belfast on the Move’.

It aims to substantially reduce traffic levels in the city centre and provide more road space for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.

The Minister said: “Belfast city centre has been transformed in recent years with major regeneration and retail redevelopments. A thriving city centre needs a transport system that not only encourages the use of more sustainable transport to reduce congestion but also enhances the environment for those who shop, visit, work and live in Belfast city centre. 

“Around 30,000 vehicles per day travel through the city centre on the streets either side of City Hall. About 60% of this is through traffic, with no final destination in the city centre causing needless congestion. This Traffic Masterplan for Belfast aims to substantially reduce those traffic levels and provide more road space for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.

“My vision is to achieve a city centre where access by public transport is given a much higher priority, and to create a safe street environment tailored to the needs of pedestrians rather than the private car. Over 40% of households in Belfast do not have access to a private car and therefore rely on public transport. For the city centre to thrive, people need to be able to access goods and services swiftly and efficiently and public transport will play an increasingly important role in this as non essential traffic is redirected away from the central area. 

“The Belfast on the Move proposals will promote a safe, sustainable and efficient transport system within Belfast City Centre. ”

The proposed ‘Sustainable Transport Enabling Measures’ will require the redistribution of available road space in the city centre in favour of public transport, pedestrians and cyclists. Improvements will be made to the road network to the west of the central area to provide an alternative route for northbound traffic. The longer term objectives of the Masterplan are to remove through traffic from the streets around City Hall so that it can be linked directly to Donegall Place and to improve public transport by facilitating cross-city bus routes and future Rapid Transit routes.

The Masterplan sets out the phased proposals which include:

· Northbound through traffic re-routed from Great Victoria Street onto Hope Street and Durham Street with south bound traffic continuing to use Great Victoria Street. Grosvenor Road will become one-way westbound and College Square North one-way eastbound.

· The redistribution of existing road space will provide extensive bus priority measures for use by public transport, taxis and cyclists.

· The delivery of 20 new controlled pedestrian crossing points; about 2.6km of new bus lanes which will also accommodate cyclists and taxis; 340m of new dedicated service bays; 1km of new dedicated cycle lanes and over 40 additional dedicated disabled parking bays.

Lord Mayor, Councillor Pat Convery, welcomed the proposals and pointed out that Belfast City Council has recently published its own revised Transport Policy, providing a framework for it to lead by example and help shape transportation in the city in a sustainable, accessible and cost effective way for all those who live, visit and work in the city. 

He said: "The keymessage is to support and promote the development of a modern, safe, accessible and integrated transportation system to enhance the connectivity for Belfast and its wider regions. Our aim is to adopt a strong and public city leadership role in the promotion of sustainable transport for the city of Belfast.” 

Emphasising that this is the start of a process that will help to transform our city centre the Minister said: “The ‘Belfast on the Move’ Masterplan outlines the emerging proposals and identifies many of the difficult issues that will have to be considered in meeting this challenge. I would encourage anyone who visits, works or lives in Belfast City Centre to examine the Masterplan and put forward your views so that they can be fully considered in developing more detailed proposals.” 

Public consultation on the proposals will close on 30 November 2010. Further details are available by phoning 028 9025 3170 or at

The public are invited to view the proposals at exhibitions to be held in Castlecourt Shopping Centre (Monday 4 - Wednesday 6 October 2010) and Victoria Square Shopping Centre (Thursday 7 - Friday 8 October 2010) and DRD offices at Clarence Court, 10-18 Adelaide St (Monday 11 - Friday 29 October 2010).

Notes to editors:

1. The Traffic Masterplan has been developed by DRD in conjunction with the Department for Social Development, Belfast City Council, Translink and other key stakeholders.

2. It is based on the proposals for the city centre outlined in the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan (BMTP) prepared by the Department for Regional Development and published in 2004. The BMTP proposed traffic management measures for the city centre with the objective of improving accessibility with the following four key concepts :
· A City Centre Ring creating an ‘urban boulevard’ to reduce its barrier effect between the core of the city centre and surrounding areas.
· A Civic Spine running through the core linking locations of key civic importance with reduced levels of general traffic and increased priority for public transport (centred on Wellington Place, Donegal Square North and Chichester St.).
· The Belfast Cross (based on the main central retail streets of Donegal Place/Royal Ave and High St/Castle St) with high levels of priority for pedestrians.
· High Accessibility Zones around public transport nodes in the city centre.

3. The key objectives of the Traffic Masterplan are to:
· Make it easier and safer to walk, particularly crossing streets.
· Reduce the level of traffic travelling through the central area.
· Reduce bus journey times and improve reliability.
· Reduce bus layover and dwell time.
· Facilitate future rapid transit proposals.
· Provide additional cycling facilities.
· Retain good levels of accessibilty for disabled users.
· Ensure reasonable provision for on street parking and servicing of shops and businesses.
· Provide further opportunities for public realm improvements and expansion of the pedestrian areas.

4. The Masterplan is closely linked to DSD’s ‘Streets Ahead’ public realm project and future proposals for a Rapid Transit system that will route through the city centre.


The Building Limes Forum: Open Day - 23rd October

Building Limes Forum & NIEA event

Click the flyer & booking form above to enlarge.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Belfast City Council: My City, My Neighbourhood survey

City Council is inviting Belfast residents to submit their views on what the priorities for the city should be in its Corporate Plan for 2011 - 2015.

We are in the process of preparing our new Corporate Plan for 2011- 2015. This is our key strategic planning document and sets out the vision and priorities for the city.

We need the views of people from across Belfast to make sure the priorities in the plan reflect what you think are the most important things we should be doing.
Why should you take part in this survey?

As a council, we are committed to improving the quality of life of everyone who lives, works and studies in Belfast as well as those who visit and invest in our city. This is your opportunity to tell us:
- what you like about your local area
- what would make it better
- what you thin our priorities for your area and the city should be.

Your feedback will help us to get a clearer sense of the things which are important and help us improve our services across all of Belfast's neighbourhoods with a real focus on value for money.

Find out more and fill in the survey on the Belfast City Council website.

My PLACE: Alan Jones

In a new series, we ask practitioners, experts and enthusiasts for their take on Northern Ireland's built environment - where are we now, how did we get here, and where are going?

Alan Jones, Director of Education (Architecture) at Queen's University Belfast

Q. Are we training too many architects?

European architectural education is regularising to a three year undergraduate degree and two year Masters degree, increasing mobility of students and sideways moves after the first degree into disciplines including Construction & Project Management, Sustainable Design and Planning. Whist many continue on the route to becoming an architect this three plus two structure has been the normal arrangement within RIBA and ARB validated courses with the first degree considered a wide undergraduate education with many transferable skills. The hope expressed by professional bodies is the more graduates that have an introductory education in architecture the more likely the discipline will benefit in the long term.

Applications to Queens architecture programmes remain plentiful, with students taking the long view that the economic climate will improve by their graduation. Parents and students are enquiring about the history and reputation of the institution and the relationship with the industry and profession - suggesting a heightened sensitivity to employablity of graduates. Recent statistics suggest more employers are shortlisting on degree result, good news for 2010 Queen’s graduates - with over 85% obtaining a first or 2-1 degree. This result reflects students’ awareness of the need to have good results and good work in their interview portfolio.


Related: Check out the Architecture Centre Network's series "What next for Architecture graduates?"

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Architecture Foundation Australia: Master Class (May-June 2011)

29 MAY- 4 JUNE 2011


The Architecture Foundation Australia is a not-for-profit organisation, the chair of which is eminent Australian architect Glenn Murcutt. The Foundation has presented the annual Glenn Murcutt International Architecture Master Class in Australia since 2001, as well as other professional Master Classes in New Zealand and South Africa and an annual Summer School for senior architecture students. This is the first program initiated by the Foundation in Europe, using the Master Class format, a design based studio program limited to 30 participants that undertakes a project design on a site within walking distance of the event. Since its inception, participants from over 55 nations have attended the Murcutt Master Class. It is anticipated that participants from many nations will travel to attend this the first European Master Class in Ireland.

Juhani Pallasmaa is one of Finland's most distinguished architects and architectural thinkers and a close personal friend of Glenn Murcutt. He runs his own architectural practice Arkkitehtitoimisto Juhani Pallasmaa KY in Helsinki and has completed many distinguished works over his long career. His previous positions include Rector of the Institute of Industrial Arts, Helsinki; Director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture; and Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Helsinki University of Technology. He has also held visiting professorships in several prestigious universities internationally. He continues as an energetic teacher and visiting professor. He has been author or editor of 24 books including the recent 'The Thinking Hand : Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture' (2009), 'Encounters' (2005), 'The Architecture of Image' (2001), 'The Eyes of Skin' (1995). He is an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Richard Leplastrier is little known internationally and is almost a recluse - but an outstanding teacher and 'guru'. He is a Gold Medallist of the Australian Institute of Architects, and received the Finnish 2004 Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award for his outstanding small wooden buildings, which has also been won by Renzo Piano, Kengo Kuma, Peter Zumthor and José Cruz Ovalle. He also received the 2009 Dreyer Foundation Award in Denmark made to an architect "who has made an outstanding contribution to architectural thinking and to society", and he has recently been made a 2009 Honorary Fellow of the US AIA. He worked with Kenzo Tange in Japan and with Jørn Utzon at the time of the Sydney Opera House. He is close friend and contemporary of Glenn Murcutt.

Peter Stutchbury is in many ways a protégé of Richard, and he has been a winner of numerous Australian Institute of Architects Awards and published internationally in GA Houses, Abitare, etc.. He won the 2008 International Living Steel Competition for extreme housing in Cherepovets in Russia, published in the new book 'Houses of Steel', has held the Catedra (Chair) Luis Barragan in Mexico, was a guest tutor at this year's Ghost Studio in Nova Scotia and has recently completed a house in Japan for the famous fashion designer Issey Miyake.

Lindsay Johnston emigrated from Ireland to Australia in 1986 and became Dean and Head of the Architecture School at the University of Newcastle. Originally from Dungannon, he studied in Dundee and worked in London before returning to Ireland. He has been a member of the RIAI since 1969. He worked with Denis Anderson on Castlepark Village Kinsale and ran his own practice from 1976-86. He has been a recipient of awards in Australia, including his 'autonomous' Four Horizons house, which has been published internationally, and in Ireland, including a commendation in the 2010 RIAI Awards. He now runs the Architecture Foundation in Australia.

DETAILS - all subject to confirmation
Tuesday 24 May 2011 - lecture at the RIBA, Portland Place, London (evening)
Thursday 26 May or Friday 27 May - lecture in Dublin hosted by the Architectural Association of Ireland (evening)
Saturday 28 May - an architectural tour in Dublin.
Sunday 29 May - Master Class commences at Glencree Reconciliation Centre (coach transfer from Dublin and/or Airport about 12.00 noon)
See - Glencree is only 20 km south of Dublin in the Wicklow Mountains
Saturday 4 June - Master Class concludes (coach transfer back to Dublin and/or Airport arrive mid-afternoon)

COST - including share accommodation and all meals Sunday to Saturday, coach transfers, etc.. - EUR2600 AUS$3600
CONTACT - [email protected]


RTPI NI Urban Design Series - The Value of Place-making

The Value of Place-making
28th September 2010
Titanic House

Click the flyer above for more info.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

My PLACE: Arthur Acheson

In a new series, we ask practitioners, experts and enthusiasts for their take on Northern Ireland's built environment - where are we now, how did we get here, and where are going?

Arthur, you have recently been appointed chair of MAG - what is your vision for Northern Ireland?


1. Just do it - we built great ships here when feasibility studies and economic appraisals would have shown that we had no chance of success.

2. Keep flexible - we are still small enough to take risks.  Commercial companies see us as a great place to experiment before launching programmes across the wider region - if it works here then they know it will work elsewhere.  We must learn from this and try things out ourselves.  I have found people willing to live and work in ways they would not have imagined - the first penthouses ever in Northern Ireland were the most expensive in the block - and the first to sell.  We could have monthly Culture Nights in Belfast for 47 years for the price of new paving in the city centre - and have new paving out of the profits.

3. Keep seeing the bigger picture - there is a world out there where huge numbers of people are living in conditions of poverty which are not imaginable in Northern Ireland.

5. Stop taking ourselves so seriously - nobody else does.

4. There is no number 4 because that would be too orderly

and... nobody listens to me anyway!

Arthur reminds us that his response is a personal statement and does not necessarily represent the views of the MAG or his position as Chair.


Related: Download the MAG's Raising Expectations report from the PLACE website - MAG - Raising Expectations [PDF, 420KB]

Saturday, 11 September 2010

EPLANI Event: DSD's Role in Urban Regeneration

DSD's Role in Urban Regeneration
Tues 21st September 2010

Click the flyer above to enlarge.