Friday, 30 September 2011

Timber Conference Speaker Profile: Mike Glennon

Mike Glennon discusses "Using Home Grown Timber" at the PLACE & Wood NI conference on Wednesday 12th October: Timber Construction & Design in Northern Ireland - Using Sustainable and Renewable Materials.

Above: Mike Glennon of Glennon Brothers

Mike Glennon is joint managing director of Glennon Brothers and has over 25 years experience in the timber trade, having joined the company in 1985. Along with his brother, Pat, he oversees this third generation, family business, with a turnover in excess of €85m and employing over 340 people directly. Glennon Brothers provides a wide range of timber products, offering its customers a ‘one-stop shop’ for sawn softwood in the British Isles.

In October 2009, Glennon Brothers became the first sawmill in Ireland or the UK to supply timber to France. In 2010, Mike and Pat were named Industry Entrepreneurs of the Year at the Ernst & Young Ireland Entrepreneur of the Year awards.


Download the conference flyer [PDF, 80kb]

- Find out more and book your place: click here.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Is the architect obsolete?

Doug Patt, howtoarchitect on YouTube, wonders whether architects may be obsolete and considers the three things they still provide clients may always be looking for.

More support needed for local timber and renewable products, says leading architect

A former Professor of Architecture at Queen’s University Belfast has called on leading bodies to support the local timber industry. Tom Woolley feels that timber buildings are less common in Northern Ireland than elsewhere because there is ignorance about the merits of timber among architects and the wider construction industry.

Above: Professor Tom Woolley
“Timber construction is more more sustainable and environmentally friendly than cement and concrete”, says Tom Woolley, who was Professor at QUB between 1991 and 2007. “Concrete has been unfairly subsidised due to the Aggregates Levy Credit Scheme, which is now coming to an end. More support should be given to local timber and the renewable products which are now available to use.”

“The Northern Ireland Construction Industry Group does a good job promoting the interests of cement and concrete, as well as the wider construction industry - but has not done enough on the sustainability agenda,” says Professor Woolley. “The Quarry Products Association acts as a secretariat to the Northern Ireland Assembly Construction Group. MLAs need to know more about the benefits of timber.”

Professor Woolley will chair an upcoming conference organised by PLACE Architecture Centre and Wood-NI on 12th October at the Ulster Hall, exploring the future of timber construction in Northern Ireland.

“Our aim is to bring all the different people with an interest in timber frame buildings and wood based products to strengthen knowledge and support for the design, aesthetic, health and environmental benefits of wood,” says Professor Woolley.

The conference will feature speakers including prominent architects Glenn Howells and John Gilbert, who have designed many innovative timber frame buildings in England and Scotland. Delegates will also be given a policy briefing by the Forest Service.

Other speakers will highlight case studies of timber buildings in Ireland and Northern Ireland and show examples of innovative and sustainable timber products, materials and construction methods. These will feature the new Tesco store in Newtownards and several low energy housing projects. The conference is organised by PLACE Architecture Centre in conjunction with WoodNI and has been sponsored by a number of key organisations.


- Download the conference flyer [PDF, 80kb]

- PLACE & Wood-NI: Timber Construction & Design in Northern Ireland conference

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Timber Conference Speaker Profile: Glenn Howells

Architect Glenn Howells gives the keynote presentation at the PLACE & Wood NI conference on Wednesday 12th October: Timber Construction & Design in Northern Ireland - Using Sustainable and Renewable Materials. His presentation will focus on innovative timber projects in England.

Above: Glenn Howells, keynote speaker at the PLACE & Wood NI Timber Conference on 12th October
Glenn Howells is the founding director of Glenn Howells Architects and established the practice in 1990.  Glenn has led the practice to win numerous major design competitions and awards for a diverse range of building types including residential, commercial, urban regeneration, education and arts projects.

Glenn is on CABE's LOCOG Design Review Panel (The London Organising Committee of Olympic Games). He is Chair of MADE (Midlands Architecture and the Designed Environment) and also Chair of the IKON Gallery in Birmingham.  Glenn advises Birmingham City Council and is an ambassador for the West Midlands.  He sits on the Warwick University Board and is Chair of the Warwick University Building Committee.

Above: The Downland Grid Shell building by Glenn Howells Architects
In the academic field, Glenn is a visiting Professor at Nottingham Trent University, an external examiner at Sheffield Hallam University and a lecturer at the Centre of Alternative Technology in Wales.  He was previously an external examiner at the University of Nottingham and Queen's University, Belfast.

Download the conference flyer [PDF, 80kb]

Find out more and book your place: click here.

UAHS: Hard Hat Tour of East Belfast (30th September)

Click to enlarge the flyer.

Culture Night Event: Sonic Stroll by ARD Ciaran Mackel Architects

Click the flyer to enlarge
Join the Sonic Stroll this Culture Night, 23rd September, at 8pm/8.30pm/9pm, departing PLACE. Free!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Culture Night "pocket park" highlights lack of quality public space in Belfast

Press release: 21.09.2011
Culture Night "pocket park" highlights lack of quality public space in Belfast

Inspired by the international Park(ing) Day, PLACE Architecture Centre will create a unique ‘Pocket Park’ in the City Centre on Culture Night, Friday 23rd September. For one night only, a number of parking spaces on Waring Street in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter will be transformed into an interactive, exciting new space. By building a pocket park (a mini green space in an urban area) the project team aims to highlight the current lack of quality open space within Belfast City Centre.

Space usage in Belfast City Centre (PLACE estimate)

The project is being run by a small team of young architects and planners. "We want to bring Belfast back from a vehicular scale to a human scale", says Aaron Coulter, an Urban Design student and intern at PLACE. "We are reclaiming space normally dedicated to the car and creatively transforming it into a small public park and activity space. We'll have interactive games, places to relax, green space and more in Belfast's new public space for the evening”.

Participants on Culture Night will be brought on a journey through the new park space and asked for their thoughts on public space in the city at the end.

The Pocket Park is being developed as part of somewhereto_, a nationwide project inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, aimed at finding spaces for young people aged 16-25 do the things they love. somewhereto_ is funded by Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity set up to help build a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games across the UK.


Notes to editors:
- The park will be active on Waring Street in Belfast on Culture Night from 4pm-8pm
- PLACE is the Architecture and Built Environment Centre for Northern Ireland
- PLACE was established in 2004

somewhereto_ (
- Inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, somewhereto_ is a nationwide project to help young people find the space they need to do the things they love, within sport, culture and the arts.
- All young people need somewhereto_ do the things they love. The project is here to help those who don’t have the space or place. By opening up spaces and connecting young people with local space-holders, via our website, regional coordinators, competitions, events and more.
- somewhereto_ is run by Livity, a youth engagement agency, in media partnership
with Channel 4 Education and funded by Legacy Trust UK.

Legacy Trust UK (
- Legacy Trust UK is an independent charity whose mission is to support a wide range of innovative cultural and sporting activities which celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and which will leave a lasting legacy in communities throughout the UK.
- Legacy Trust UK is funded by a £40 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund (£29m), Department for Culture Media and Sport (£6m) and Arts Council England (£5m), and is a Principal Funder of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.

A note from the PLACE Director

PLACE Director Michael Hegarty lends his personal support to an appeal for information on the murder of Mr. Simon Tang in Carrickfergus in 1996:

"I strongly support the appeal for information on the murder of an architecture graduate in Belfast. Mr. Tang's widow, children and family are my close friends and neighbours. He studied architecture in Oxford."

From BBC News:
The Chinese Welfare Association wants to raise a further £10,000 over the next 15 days with the help of all communities in Northern Ireland in an attempt to bring the total reward money to £15,000 - £1,000 for every year that has passed since his death.
Dean Lee, a relative of Mr Tang's and Eileen Chan-Hu, chief executive of Chinese Welfare Association said the victim was "typical of the three generations of Hong Kong Chinese people in Northern Ireland".
They said he "worked predominantly and tirelessly in the catering industry befriending as well as providing employment and services to people and communities across the sectarian divide throughout the troubles.
"Fifteen years on we support Betty (Mr Tang's wife) to relaunch an appeal for information in the hope that the people of Carrickfergus are more prepared to come forward."
They said the PSNI has confirmed the case remains open and is pursuing new lines of enquiry including the use of forensic technology.

BBC News: £15k reward plan over murder of Simon Tang in Carrick

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Press response: Community Telegraph, 1st September

The article by Michael Wolsey in last Thursday's Community Telegraph. Click to enlarge.
"Time to get rid of ugly scar in city centre"
Community Telegraph, 1st September 2011
Response from PLACE

Michael Wolsey, writing in last week's Community Telegraph, addressed the state of the northern part of Belfast City Centre, around Royal Avenue, North Street and Garfield Street. PLACE welcomes the article and the fact that it will bring important urban issues to the attention of a wide audience.

"While the article is well-intentioned", said PLACE Director Michael Hegarty, "it ignores a number of current initiatives."

- The Forum for Alternative Belfast have highlighted the state of Garfield Street and suggested solutions in a number of their publications.

- The Let's Get it Right campaign led by the UAHS and CAF is particularly focused on this part of town.

- PLACE hosted two events focusing on public space and the design in the Cathedral Quarter during Belfast Exposed's Exchange Mechanism series in 2010. The real opportunity in this area was highlighted by Michael McGarry, Professor of Architecture at Queen's during these events: "Royal Avenue to York Street - in any other city it would be the grand boulevard," he said.

- Meanwhile, work to explore new opportunities in this area is ongoing by groups and organisations as diverse as adhoc, lecturers including Saul Golden at University of Ulster, Cathedral Quarter Steering Group, Belfast City Centre Management, Belfast Regeneration Office, Belfast City Council and others.

While the results may not yet be evident, PLACE would argue that the kind of partnerships Mr. Wolsey advocates are in fact happening, and there are many people working hard to rehabilitate this part of Belfast.