Friday, 27 January 2012

Secret Laboratory opening in Dublin - Tues 31st Jan

An exhibition which began its life at PLACE has been travelling all over Ireland in the past number of years. The Secret Laboratory explores the hidden world of architects' sketchbooks, featuring the ideas, observations, thoughts and reflections of Grafton Architects, Ciaran Mackel, McCullough Mulvin, Jane Larmour, Sheila O'Donnell, and more.

The Secret Laboratory was created by Paul Clarke, an architect and writer based in the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Ulster.

The exhibition launches at Wood Quay offices on Tues 31st January at 5pm. It continues from the 31st Jan - 17th Feb, Monday - Friday from 9am - 5pm.

Click the flyer to enlarge

Click the flyer to enlarge

The exhibition is supported by University of Ulster, PLACE, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and Dublin City Council.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

somewhereto_ Share your Vision

Lord Kitchener by Alfred Leete, image by Anna Skoura, poster by Ailish Killilea.

CALLING ALL STUDENTS! PLACE needs YOU to Share your Vision.

Is there a topic or project you think people should know about? Something within the built environment realm you feel passionate about? Then you should think about our student participation, somewhereto_Share your Vision, event being held at 12:00 on Saturday 4th of February at PLACE.

This is an opportunity for students to share their vision for the future of architecture and design. Whether it's a project you have worked on or a certain built environment topic you would like to discuss, we would encourage you to take part.

Come along and get to know some of the interns and volunteers at PLACE. Bring along any materials you think may illustrate your chosen subject. Refreshments provided.

If you are interested please RSVP Ailish on [email protected]

When?: 12:00pm, Saturday February 4th.
Where?: PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast. BT1 5EE.


PLACE is the Northern Ireland Regional Coordinator for somewhereto_, a nationwide project to help young people find the space they need to do the things they love within sport, culture and the arts. Run by Livity, in partnership with Channel 4, the project 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.

Do you need somewhereto_ do the things you love? Get in touch with us...

Tweet us: @somewhereto_NI
Phone: 028 9023 2524

Saturday, 21 January 2012

PLACE Bookshop: Seven Donegal Churches

Liam McCormick: Seven Donegal Churches by Carole Pollard
Back in stock in the PLACE Bookshop we have Carole Pollard's compendium Liam McCormick: Seven Donegal Churches.

The set of books comprises one book on each of the seven churches and an eighth volume which describes McCormick's career during that period and provides biographies of the artists who collaborated with him on the churches.

Each of the eight books contains an essay by contributors: Catherine Croft, Marianne O'Kane Boal, William Cumming, John Graby, Paul Larmour, Angela Rolfe, Joy McCormick and Shane O'Toole. The books are available as a set, enclosed in a specially designed slipcase.

Published by Gandon Editions. Now available at PLACE for £27.50.

Friday, 20 January 2012

International course - Constructions in Stone

In this series, The Past in the Present, we explore how the historic urban character of a city can be part of a dynamic and continually evolving contemporary society, with an aim to spark debate on the topic of conservation and heritage in our cities and further afield.

Series curated by Ailish Killilea and Anna Skoura.

The Department of Architecture and Urbanism at the ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, is offering its first course in Practices in Architecture, Constructions in Stone, which will take place from 7 to 12 May 2012.

The course aims to develop skills in Practices in Architecture, particularly in construction and building conservation techniques, and to complement the current curriculum, which is mostly theoretical. 

Students will have the opportunity to work the material and to participate in the construction of a stone structure, under the direction and tutelage of stonemasons and stereotomy researchers.

Instruction is multi-disciplinary in nature. It will include aspects of Materials Science and is aimed at promoting interaction between Architectural Technology and Project Design, and between Construction and Conservation.

Course content will include both traditional and contemporary project design methods and construction techniques. The possibilities of the material will be explored and students challenged in terms of creativity and research into new architectural technologies.

This international course has the potential to broaden one's knowledge and experience, from the perspective of students, teachers, and specialists alike.

Course Suitability
The course is aimed at professionals and students of architecture, engineering, archeology, history of art, conservation-restoration, as well as any other discipline related to the subject matter.

For more information follow the link

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Art on Chairs International Design Competition

It's architecture you can sit on! Some of the greatest architects known didn't just stop at building skyscrapers, they went on to design the finer details to the highest design spec. Take Frank Llyod Wright's 'Barrel Chair' that he design in 1937 for Herbert Johnson's house.

The Barrel Chair, Frank Llyod Wright. (Photo by

For the attention of all architecture and design students/professionals (not necessarily in that order) who are passionate about innovative and good design, this could be the perfect opportunity for you.

The Paredes Furniture Design Pole, in association with ID+ (Institute for Design, Media and Culture Research), have launched a global competition called the Art on Chairs International Design Contest. The jury will be made up by internationally renowned specialists who with pick 9 winning designs for prototype, which will be the foundation of the exhibition, 'An idea for the world on a chair', to be held in September 14th - November 11th 2012.

In the companies words: the chair is the chosen object, wood is the raw material, innovation is the objective. The competition is open to three different categories: making chairs, imagining chairs, sustaining chairs. Closing date is the 31st January 2012 and entries may be submitted through their website. As well as your work being sown in a global exhibition, winning prizes will be awarded generous cash prizes.

The international company stress the idea that design does have a real impact upon peoples' quality of life, while acknowledging that excellence in design has no borders.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Owen Hatherley presents film screening and lecture in Belfast

Click the flyer to enlarge.

Architecture, urbanism and politics writer Owen Hatherley visits Belfast on Sun 22nd and Mon 23rd January for a film screening at QFT and a free lecture at University of Ulster.

The Dilapidated Dwelling (dir. Patrick Keiller, 2000, 78 min)
Selected and introduced by Owen Hatherley
Queen’s Film Theatre, Sun 22 Jan, 3.30pm
£6.20 (£5.70 online) / £5 unwaged / £4 full-time students & children

Owen Hatherley is a regular contributor to the New Statesman, the Guardian and Building Design, writing on architecture, urbanism, the culture of politics and the politics of culture. His latest book, A Guide To The New Ruins of Great Britain, was published to critical acclaim by Verso in 2010. Owen joins us to introduce and discuss Patrick Keiller's experimental documentary The Dilapidated Dwelling

The Dilapidated Dwelling investigates its subject from an extraordinary number of different angles: archive footage, interviews, statistics, humour, accident, even a quiet love story. An unnamed narrator (Tilda Swinton) returns to England after twenty years spent in the Arctic. Her employer commissions her to investigate 'the predicament of the house in the UK'. She falls in love in a supermarket, and settles down with her partner in an Edwardian house on the outskirts of a university town to pursue her research.

She discovers that at the UK’s current rate of house-building, every home currently standing will have to last for 5,600 years, and that the cost of housing in real terms has doubled since the 1930s. She wonders why, when the digital economy is transforming both work and leisure, and mass-production has made consumer items many times cheaper, homes are still built poorly, slowly and expensively.

She discovers archive footage of numerous approaches to utopian architecture, from around the world. She interviews architects, economists and others, who suggest that the housing market protects itself against mass production, and wonder whether modern capitalism is incapable of adequately providing for domestic life. 

The narrator reluctantly comes to the conclusion that the UK is simply incapable of improving its housing stock or applying modern methods to the production of homes, and that the houses of the future will be the ones we already live in.

Despite the use of more traditional documentary techniques like interview and archive footage, The Dilapidated Dwelling retains the poetic sensibility and distinctive visual feel of Keiller’s renowned films London (1994), Robinson in Space (1996) and Robinson in Ruins (2010).


A New Kind of Bleak
Conor Lecture Theatre, Art College, Belfast
Mon 23 Jan, 1 pm
All welcome, free adm

Owen Hatherley will discuss the fate of urbanism and architecture in the UK, in the desolate new world of savage public-sector cuts, as government funds are withdrawn and the Welfare State abdicates. He will be exploring the urban consequences of the Big Society (which Conservatives privately call 'progressive nonsense') and the ‘localism agenda', as well as considering the completion of the last great Blairite schemes, from London's Shard to the site of the 2012 Olympics. In this context, Hatherley will reflect on what might be distinctive about the Belfast’s post-peace process redevelopment and regeneration, now ingloriously stalled. 

This event is part of the ongoing seminar series programmed by the Centre for Media Research at the University of Ulster.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Belfast Civic Trust AGM - 16th January

Christchurch, Belfast. Image via UAHS.
The Annual General Meeting of the Belfast Civic Trust to be held on Monday January 16th 2012 at 5.30p.m. in Christchurch, Inst, Belfast.

Guest Speaker: Dr Eamon Phoenix, Stranmillis University College
Subject: Friars Bush and the Development of Belfast, 1570 to 2011

There will be music and refreshments at the meeting. Visitors can park at the front of Inst and can make their way to Christchurch through the Inst front entrance. Christchurch is at the back of Inst.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Past in the Present: The Legacy of the Cathedral Quarter

In this series, The Past in the Present, we explore how the historic urban character of a city can be part of a dynamic and continually evolving contemporary society, with an aim to spark debate on the topic of conservation and heritage in our cities and further afield.

Series curated by Ailish Killilea and Anna Skoura.

St. Annes Cathedral, Belfast. (Photo by Ailish Killilea)

In recent years the Cathedral Quarter has been identified as the key cultural district of Belfast, seen to play apivotal role as the focus for Belfast's burgeoning arts and crafts scene. Every year the Cathedral Quarter becomes a beehive of activity with a range of festivals locating here such as the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Open House Festival, Festival of Fools, Belfast Film Festival, Belfast Photo Festival, Out to Lunch Festival and Culture Night.

Culture Night 2010. (photo from Culture Night Belfast)

There are reportedly over 50 creative and cultural organisations located in the Cathedral Quarter presently.Lower rents in the area has helped artists and arts organisations to locate here. But it seems that the character of the area has been a major factor in attracting such a huge catchment of artists. Peter Mutschler, of Paragon Studios, Donegall Street, describes the reason to locate in the Cathedral Quarter: 'I think the reason to move into the premises with studio space on different floors (there are still two businesses)was- and still is- that the spaces are good and it has this kind of stimulating surrounding. The run down building itself has lots of character and the area just has a great atmosphere.'
It is this distinctive character that attracts new public and private investment every year, with adrive to support the cultural quarter's engaging beauty and vitality. Such support for the area has led to plans for regeneration of the Cathedral Quarter in the hope of increasing its utilization.

Map of Belfast, 1690. (Map sourced from Mark Thompson)

The area we know today as the Cathedral Quarter began its establishment right from the birth of the Belfast City in 1613. From this map dating back to 1690 we can see the North Gate and it is this street that is known as North Street. The Belfast River which would have run from the River Lagan down to Millgate now flows under High Street.

Belfast Map, 1791. (Map by Samuel Lewis)

From this map of Belfast in 1791 we can see a street pattern emerging. The Cathedral Quarter is being established, with many of its routes surviving today (Donegall Street, North Street, Waring Street, Rosemary Street, High Street). It is this historic footprint that contributes so much to the city in telling its story as a continually growing and evolving major city.

The following map shows the extent of the Cathedral Quarter today and the listed buildings within its limits that have survived.

Present day Cathedral Quarter map, showing boundaries and listed buildings. (map by Ailish Killilea)

In the late 1990's plans were submitted to the Department of Social Development (DSD) by Ewart Properties to regenerate the Cathedral Quarter area. The following map shows the extent of this planning proposal known as the Royal Exchange and the listed buildings that may be affected by this development.

Map showing the footprint of the Royal Exchange Development. (Map by Ailish Killilea)

Buildings within the footprint of the Royal Exchange include; North Street Arcade, the Exchange & Assembly Rooms, Lower Garfield Street, the First Presbyterian Church and the Masonic Building.

North Street Arcade today. (Photo by UAHS)

The North Street Arcade is a four-storey red brick building with red sandstone detailing was built in 1936 by Cowser & Smyth. The arcade bends through 90◦, with a domed space at the bend, once housing shops, artist groups and exhibition space. It survived the Belfast Blitz during the Second World War and I.R.A. bombings in 1971, but unfortunately it crumbled under an arson attack in April of 2004. Presently the building is listed, but no repairs have been carried out.

The Exchange & Assembly Rooms today. (photo by Ailish Killilea)

The Exchange and Assembly Rooms acquired its name through its function as a building. It was originally built as a one-storey market with arcade in 1769, known as 'The Exchange'. In 1776 Lord Donegall commissioned Sir Robert Taylor to design a two-storey building for social gatherings and dances, when the building then became known as 'The Assembly Rooms'.Fashionable society immediately began referring to the area of Bridge Street, North Street, Waring Street, and Rosemary Lane as 'The Four Corners'. After the 1798 rebellion, the Assembly Rooms served as a trial room for Henry Joy McCracken of the United Irishmen (he was subsequently hung at High Street). In 1845 Sir Charles Lanyon won the commission to convert the Assembly Rooms to the present day structure for Northern Bank. Today the building is in disuse, with much loobying to use the venue as an exhibition hall or theatre.

Lower Garfield Street today. (photo from Lower Garfield)

Lower Garfield Street was known as the Curved Entry until 1910 until it was named after the US President James Garfield. The curved red brick building was built in 1896 by Graeme, Watt and Tullock. The curved red brick building was once occupied by a ballroom, many shops and the Garfield Bar, but today, all that remains is the Tivoli barber shop.

The First Presbyterian Church today. (photo Ailish Killilea)

This building is said to be the oldest surviving place of worship in Belfast city. It was built in 1781-83 by Roger Mullholland and the facade was extended in 1883 and the rear in 1906-07 by Young and Mackenzie. In Victorian time this building would have been seen as less admirable, but the Irish builder of 1867 expressed a different opinion 'for those who believe in Classic churches clothed in cement, this building cannot fail to satisfy their taste' (M. Patton, Central Belfast).

Masonic Hall. (photo by A. Killilea)

The Masonic Building on Rosemary Street was built in 1950-54 by Young & Mackenzie. The three-storey building is made from reconstructed stone with a flat full width pediment and a central bay set slightly forward with balustraded balcony on scrolled barckets over the entrance portico. Above the entrance door are the mason's compasses over fanlight. This was originally the site of The Third Presbyterian Church, finished in 1831 to the designs of John Miller. The Third Presbyterian Church was destroyed in the blitz of 1941. The Provincial Grand Lodge Hall at 15 Rosemary Street is the headquarters of the provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim. Due to the recent harsh economic climate it has been difficult to maintain the hall and lodges are now generally located in Arthur Square Hall. Consideration is been given to the future of the hall, according to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim, alternatives than to sell the building are being sought in order to maintain the Masonic Hall.

Through the discussion of this heritage in the Cathedral Quarter that may possibly face demolition if plans for The Royal Exchange are to go ahead. It is clear that the character of the Cathedral Quarter comes from its colorful and historic past.
Alternative efforts, to that of the Royal Exchange, to regenerate the Cathedral Quarter can be seen in cultural campaigns and projects such as: City Supplements: an Alternative Urban Strategy, The Risk is Rewarding, Barber Shop Quintet, Save the Cathedral Quarter and Let's Get it Right.
Is this historic fabric an integral part of the Cathedral Quarter? If so, is there a way to incorporate such buildings into a design to regenerate the Cathedral Quarter?