Friday, 21 May 2010

Lecture: "Architecture as Provocation"

QUB School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering presents the inaugural lecture by Professor Ruth Morrow:
‘Architecture as Provocation’
Social Practice and Engage Pedagogy

on Tuesday 25th May 2010 at 5:00pm in

Lecture Theatre (LG024), David Keir Building and afterwards to a reception in the Clock Tower Foyer, David Keir Building

Replies please to Cheryl Murray, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering (Tel: 028 90974747; Email: cheryl.murray[AT]


2010 RIBA Awards - Northern Ireland winners

The RIBA yesterday announced the winners of its 2010 Awards.

Northern Ireland's winners:

St Malachy's Church by Consarc Conservation

Kevin Kahan Salon by Twenty Two Over Seven

The Downe Hospital by Scott Wilson Ltd in association with Capita Symonds

The full list of winners across the UK is on the RIBA website: click here.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

PLACE Internships - Summer 2010

PLACE Internships offer students, graduates & other interested people the opportunity to be a part of the PLACE team.

We have 3 opportunities for enthusiastic individuals in the following roles:
Architecture and Built Environment
You will work with PLACE Staff to promote public interaction within architecture and the built environment through workshops and discussions and in the area of community participation & consultation.

Cultural Administration and Programming
You will work with PLACE staff to organise and deliver events and exhibitions as part of the PLACE programme.

Marketing and Communications
You will work with PLACE Staff on all aspects of marketing and communications, including public relations, press releases and the use of online social media and new media to promote PLACE and facilitate discussion with the general public.

PLACE Internships are voluntary, for minimum 2 month periods between mid-June and September 2010 and for a minimum 3 days per week. Out-of-pocket expenses (for spending like public transport, car parking and lunch) will be covered.

Closing date for applications: No later than 5pm on Friday 4th June 2010.

How to apply
Find out more and how to apply - download the full description: Click here (or right click and Save As) [PDF, 96kb]

If you have any queries regarding the internships or the application process, please contact us at PLACE: phone 028 9023 2524 or email info[AT]

SAUL Intelligence Unit Summer 2010


SAUL Intelligence Unit Summer 2010 (at the School of Architecture at the University of Limerick) will be conducting parallel research projects from the beginning of June to the end of August 2010. A range of research subjects are envisaged to be undertaken such as energy, mobility, airports, and building use/building energy performance and analysis. Research will be through thorough observation, investigation, analysis, discovery and discussion.

The research will engage both interested professionals and students of architecture in an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the capacity of architecture in a wider set of questions. The group will work in a strategic way located within the context of ongoing work at SAUL.

Interested professionals are invited to apply for flexible participation in 1 to 2 day weekly workshops from the beginning of June to the end of August. Research bursaries are available to support this participation.

Students of Architecture will be employed on a paid contract basis of €200 per week from the beginning of June to the end of August 2010.

Expressions of interest (1 A4 page outlining your relevant experience to date, your reasons for applying and clearly listing your IT skills, presentation skills and teamwork experience) to reach Sylvia Carroll by e-mail no later than 12 noon on Thursday May 20th 2010. Email: sylvia.carroll[AT]

For more information go to or

"The Foster Factor" - Foyle Civic Trust Lecture

Above: Norman Foster's Philologische Bibliothek der Freien Universität Berlin (via svenwerk on Flickr)

George Brennan will be talking about the work of Norman Foster

On Thursday 20th May 2010
7.30pm Refreshments, followed by talk at 8pm

At The Junction, 8 Bishop Street, Derry

Everyone is very welcome.

Please note that there will be a cover charge of £5 per person.


Dates for your Diary

Thursday 23rd June 2010 at Prehen House the Foyle Civic Trust will be having their Annual General Meeting at 7pm, followed by a presentation by Emily Hadden from the Landscape Institute Northern Ireland at 8pm.
Saturday 3rd July 2010 - Summer Outing. A day trip to the Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens. Details to follow.


For more information on any of the above, please contact Jenny O'Donnell: jennyodonnellderry[AT]googlemail[DOT]com

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Planning Service cuts risk poor decisions that will affect the Northern Ireland landscape and economy, PLACE warns

PLACE, the Architecture Centre advocating design quality in the built environment, has written to all members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to warn that staff cuts in the Planning Service will lead to poor planning decisions that will irreversibly affect the landscape of Northern Ireland.

PLACE Chairperson Professor Bill Morrison said he has major concerns at news that the Planning Service is to redeploy as many as 269 staff, and warned that the Department of the Environment must think carefully about how it implements any staff redeployment.

“An inadequate planning resource means putting up with a shoddy environment. We must make sure the cuts are not concentrated on the professionals who deal with planning applications,” Professor Morrison, the former Head of Planning for Belfast, said.

He added, “PLACE is Northern Ireland’s Architecture Centre, and we are here to promote quality in the built environment. The Development Control teams and Design Unit of Planning Service are at the frontline of ensuring a quality built environment and they have been doing a good job. It is crucial that they retain the capability to do this.

“We are concerned that no distinction has been drawn between professional qualified planners and other staff. This is particularly alarming in light of the November 2009 NI Audit Office report, ‘The Performance of the Planning Service’, which shows that staff already have individual caseloads far higher than any other UK nation.

“Planning Service has three groupings of staff: the professional team dealing with planning applications; another professional team dealing with development plan preparation and a substantial administrative back-up, recently inflated in anticipation of the transfer to local councils under RPA. It would be a big mistake to target the development control staff for cuts simply because of an accounting system that seeks to fund one particular function from the income from planning applications,” Professor Morrison said.

Architect and PLACE Director Michael Hegarty added: “This move could have a devastating effect on the economic recovery of Northern Ireland. Reducing qualified staff will only delay planning applications and delay any recovery in construction. Swifter planning has often been cited as an important factor in attracting inward investment. Now, surely, is not the time to add further barriers to firms wanting to locate here. The Northern Ireland Government Policy for Architecture & The Built Environment is established to improve standards of design in the built environment. Qualified people are needed to deliver the policy and cutting key qualified staff is not the way forward.”

Coming soon...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


"Sounds that have been in a particular place for a long time I call soundmarks. Like landmarks, they define its essential character, rendering it unique."

- R. Murray Schafer, 1993

In Resounding Rivers, Matt Green has re-imagined some of Belfast's now-disappeared soundmarks - the rivers that once flowed through the city.

What are the soundmarks in your area?

The Tidal States of "Eneropa"

Above: The proposed Eneropa map by OMA. Ireland north & south and the western half of Great Britain would form part of the "Tidal States"

In the Observer, Rowan Moore considers Rem Koolhaas and OMA's plans for a united network of renewable energy across "Eneropa".

"I have, frankly, no idea if by 2050 anything like this network will exist, or whether it will join the ranks of the fantastical and doomed, along with the cities teeming with autogyros imagined in the 1930s, or the 1960s' faith in the future ubiquity of hovercrafts. I doubt if anyone else knows, either. But, of all the abstract speculations about what sustainable futures might look like, there has not previously been one so tangible or engaging."

Observer: Roadmap 2050 by Rem Koolhaas's OMA

Read more:
OMA: Eneropa

"A violent assault on our own country"

Writing in the Irish Times last week, Robert O'Byrne claims that the speculative building rush in the years leading to the recession has done irreparable harm both to Ireland's landscape and the country itself:

"We have to pay greater attention to the merits of good design and not merely regard it as an expendable extra. During the boom years many of our local authorities moved into new purpose-built premises designed to such high standards that they won awards. Yet those same authorities made no effort to encourage similar standards of good design in the areas under their jurisdiction. Architects will tell you that members of their profession were uninvolved in the majority of new housing erected during the past two decades. There was no requirement to call on an architect’s services and as a result almost all recent construction work in the domestic housing market is shamefully ugly and a blot on the landscape into which it has been inconsiderately dropped."

Irish Times: Physical fabric of our country left in tatters (5th May)

Facebook: The Irish Georgian Society's page

(Thanks to Rosemary for the link.)

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Resounding Rivers on Arts Extra

Above: Matt Green (centre) at the launch on Thursday evening. Resounding Rivers continues until 5th June at PLACE and sites around Belfast city centre.

You can hear Matt Green and Michael Hegarty (Director, PLACE) discuss the Resounding Rivers project with Marie Louise Muir on Wednesday's Arts Extra, via the iPlayer. Click here (starts around 24 mins).

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

RPS Group to prepare a masterplan for Limavady town centre

The RPS Group have been named as masterplanners in the Limavady town centre regeneration.

30 April 2010 - Design experts announced for Limavady town centre

The Department for Social Development today announced the appointment of international urban design experts, the RPS Group, to prepare a masterplan for Limavady town centre, marking another important step towards producing a masterplan for the area

The masterplan will inform the priorities for development in the town centre and provide in particular:

* an agreed strategy for town centre development;
* an assessment of the development potential of vacant and underused sites within the town centre; and
* suggestions for public realm enhancements to support the regeneration objectives and complement the recommendations for restructuring and redevelopment of various buildings/sites.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie said: "The appointment of consultants with international experience to prepare a town centre masterplan marks an important phase in the overall regeneration of Limavady. My Department is committed to working with Limavady Borough Council and other statutory organisations to help regenerate the town centre. This detailed masterplan will form the basis for strategic and integrated regeneration activities in the coming years."

Councillor Cathal Ă“ hOisĂ­n, Mayor of Limavady Borough Council said: "This is an exciting announcement for Limavady, especially at a time when rural towns such as ours continue to struggle during the economic downturn. We look forward to working with the Department for Social Development and engaging the local community to play their part in this new development. I am sure that councillors, residents and business people will recognise what an important opportunity this is for Limavady - we encourage everyone to participate in this important project."

Work to prepare the masterplan will commence immediately and is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

View the press release here.

The debate goes on...

Above: Rendering of the Magic Jug in situ; via Belfast Streets Ahead

On this morning's Good Morning Ulster, the debate on the Magic Jug continued...

You can listen to the piece on the BBC iPlayer here - it starts at around 1 hr 52 mins.

Some of the main arguments are outlined below...

"It's not going to resonate with people, because it's not designed by someone who understands the people of Belfast. What makes great art? Why should it go here? There was no debate." (Will Chamberlain)

"We need a bit more transparency in how public money is spent. We don't want to be just given public art and told why it's good for us." (Daniel Jewesbury)

"Everything like that brightens the place up and makes it nice."
"It's like dressing a room."
"I think the worst people to ask are the experts in the field of architecture and art."
"I think the public are the ones who should decide because they're the ones who are going to be paying for it." (Public on Fountain Street)

"The whole concept of the city means discussion, and it means that it has to be held in a very open forum. We can't have people behind closed doors making decisions that don't engage with the people. It goes right back to the ancient idea of a city, and it has a lot to say about how you then put art in a city as well." (Mark Hackett)

"The response that we got around the city centre was extremely positive. I think what you are hearing is a small bunch of "experts" who are getting into a debate about the merits of what is art, which is not reflective of the debate you hear on the streets and which your reporter picked up. And that's a debate which very much welcomes this investment. From a town centre manager's perspective, a lot of my colleagues in other cities would be delighted that a government department was making this sort of investment. I think some existential debate about what is art is not particularly helpful... Not only are we doing this dressing exercise and giving ourselves something that looks very attractive, actually it has a physical purpose of connecting areas, drawing lines of sight and helping people move around the city." (Andrew Irvine, BCCM)

- Read the report of the meeting held at PLACE on Monday 26th May
- Belfast's Magic Jug? - Slugger O'Toole
- Smash or hug the jug? - Slugger O'Toole

Monday, 3 May 2010

Resounding Rivers panel discussion, launch event and walking tours!

Above: The map to accompany Matt Green's audio artwork project has been designed by Ryan O'Reilly

This week, PLACE is excited to mark the launch of Resounding Rivers - a series of audio installations by Matt Green across Belfast City Centre - with some special events.

Thurs 6th May, 11am @ Belfast Waterfront

First, on Thursday morning, we have the official launch of the project at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast. After an introduction by Matt Green, we host a panel discussion on SOUND AND THE CITY with Dr Gascia Ouzounian, an expert in sound installation art at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Paul Clarke, lecturer in Architecture at University of Ulster, and Adam Turkington, Co-ordinator of Trans Urban Arts Festival.
For more info and to book, click here!

Thurs 6th May, 6-9pm @ PLACE and participating venues

The six audio pieces will be unveiled on Thursday evening from 6-9pm. A special video installation will also be shown in PLACE throughout the project, from 6th May - 5th June.
Find out more: click here.

Sat 8th, 15th & 22nd May, starting @ PLACE

Archaeologist Ruairi O Baoill will be leading a series of unique tours exploring the “Hidden History” of Belfast on three Saturdays in May - 8th, 15th and 22nd.

Adults: £5
Students and concessions: £3
Under-12s: free!

For tickets contact PLACE on 028 9023 2524 or email info AT!

Read more about Resounding Rivers:
- Press release on the project (Belfast City Council)
- BBC piece featuring an interview with Matt Green (BBC News)