Thursday, 27 September 2012

Respecting Buildings In Northern Ireland

By Andrew Molloy. Published in the new arts magazine 'The Ulster Folk', September 2012.

I was brought up in the tail end of 'The Troubles,' so much so that I never really felt affected by them. It's only in retrospect I see that it has entirely defined the relationship I have with the city I call home.

'The Town,' as Belfast city centre was ominously referred to in my youth, felt like another country; full of danger, glimpsed only in grainy news reports and rushed shopping trips. This is why I found the Urban Design Summer School hosted by PLACE, Belfast's centre for architecture and the built environment, so refreshing.

The PLACE Urban Design Summer School participants.
Photo by Robin Cordiner.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Low Impact Buildings Lectures | Thurs 27 Sept | Linenhall Library

The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) and Invest NI are collaborating to promote the Technology Strategy Board’s (TSB) Low Impact Buildings Programme. There will be two free lectures on Thursday 27th September in the Linenhall Library, Belfast.

The lectures will demonstrate how effective the latest eco-technologies are proving to be in practice, how the TSB’s development funding works and how architects, clients and businesses here can benefit.

Low Impact Building. Credit:

Friday, 21 September 2012

City Shapers: Dr. Callie Persic

CITY SHAPERS: What's Your Role?

Whether your role is architect, community representative, cyclist or citizen, we all have a part to play in shaping the city around us, from big scale planning to small scale interventions. In this series, we meet the people making a difference in Belfast and beyond.

Dr. Callie Persic is originally from the United States. After coming to Belfast to complete her PhD in Anthropology at Queen’s University, she now resides here and works for the West Belfast Partnership Board (WBPB). She spoke to Ailish Killilea who volunteers at PLACE and works as an urban designer with Forum for Alternative Belfast.


How long have you worked with WBPB and what is your role?
I have worked at the WBPB for the last seven and a half years and am the Strategic Regeneration Manager. The Partnership is a cross-sector partnership that works across a number of themes. Specifically my remit covers Housing, Environment & Planning and Economic Development & Neighbourhood Renewal. There are five Area Partnerships in Belfast and I have strong relationships across the city with my colleagues.

How do you find working with the Partnership Board and what type of projects do you deal with?
I like working in the Partnership, I actually like working with different people and in different sectors - I get quite a buzz out of that. Because my remits are so wide, I could work on a number of things. Regeneration is many things linked together. In relation to economic development, I work with a very strong committee, what we are looking at is how to support local creative industries, small businesses and SMEs (small & medium enterprises).

This can be localised or can reach city wide. We work on community development model that can help local traders and creative industries get a head start for example we have supported the West Belfast Traders Forum and the tourism initiative Fáilte Feirste Thiar, which are now operating independently.

"Regeneration is many things linked together"

In terms of spatial regeneration, housing and environmental planning, I think we could do so much more - but resources can limit the expanse of our projects. The progress of this work comes in peaks and valleys depending on [whether] there are resources. It can be very frustrating as it can take years to see something happen.

That said, the work is very interesting and we have many projects on the go in the West. Currently the Glen 10 Development Framework is out to community consultation and the Andersontown Barracks is another huge and very interesting project, something we have worked on with PLACE. We organised the community consultation for that — it is a former military site and the redevelopment of is hugely important for Belfast as it is part of conflict transformation and the use of space.

In terms of local work I sit on each of the Neighbourhood Partnerships, there are 5 of them in West Belfast. It is important to be able to support local renewal as well as strategic and wider reaching regeneration.

Callie Persic outside the West Belfast Partnership Board. Picture by Ailish Killilea.

You recently set up the Pop up shop in West Belfast, which was very successful. How did you find setting it up and running it?
The Pop Up Shop (Síopa Sealadach) was result of a number of things coming together—support for the creative industries, addressing empty shops and linking into the increased footfall during the Féile and seizing an opportunity. Our neighbours, SCA (Springfield Charitable Association), very kindly gave us use of the space prior to them moving into their new premises. We were very lucky as I’m aware setting up a pop up is not always that easy.

The shop was opened by the DCAL Minister Carál Ni Chuilín on the 30th of July and it ran until the 12th of August. I am delighted by the success of the shop—there was a great sense of excitement and a ‘can do’ attitude. Something like this had not been done on the Falls Road before and it generated a lot of interest and publicity.

"...we want to make sure there are good quality services to help people who really need it."

It was a great project to be involved in and I am delighted to report that the creatives involved ‘re-popped’ after the space on the Falls Road closed - they are temporarily located on 155 Northumberland Street across from the International Wall. What is great about the pop up shop is that it gives creatives the opportunity to test out their business to the market and make a go of it until they can afford to take on their own unit.

Are there any new projects in the pipeline that you are particularly interested in?
We have a lot going on across all the themes in the Partnership and I am interested in how we can carry out regeneration of Belfast through more effective collaboration. Our remit is to work with the worst 10% - we want to make sure there are good quality services to help people who really need it.

In terms of economic development we have been working towards a better relationship with InvestNI, recently embarking on a piece of work together drawing up an investment proposition for West Belfast, which will be extremely useful as we seek investment and promote tourism.

On a wider city scale, we have been part of the FAB Summer School 2012, looking at how West and East Belfast connect to the city centre. Analysis showed how poorly the West connects to the city, especially in the ‘Shatterzone’ area on Divis Street. I was glad to see this year comparative work to other cities and an evidence-based approach, which helped inform my thinking as to the future needs of the city and our communities. That is a project where leadership is necessary in how you take that forward. It will need multiple partners lining up their plans and resources.

How would you unwind after a long day?
I volunteer in my spare time - I am the Chair of Skegoneill Glandore Common Purpose, an interface organisation in North Belfast. I really enjoy it because the projects are so interesting but is very similar to my professional career and so I need to find other ways to take a break and unwind.

I do Bikram Yoga in the Conway Mill. It is physically intense but I find it very relaxing and focuses me. I like walking around the city, taking pictures and exploring the city. Best of all though is when I am just chilled out with friends—going for walks or meeting up and having tea and cakes!

Interview at WBPB HQ. Picture by Ailish Killilea

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be so many things—in fact I still do! I initially thought I would be a medical doctor but maybe because I moved so much I became interested in other cultures and in the end I settled on anthropology. My undergraduate degree is in philosophy but I went on to study anthropology and this is what brought me to Belfast. My PhD thesis looked at women, power, feminism and identity.

"I really believe in Belfast."

What book are you reading at the moment?
I usually have about 3 or 4 books on the go and I just finished the most recent Deborah Harkness book—which is a real curl-up-on-the-sofa book. But I also have been reading 'Welcome to the Urban Revolution'—It’s useful to read case studies about urban development and look at practices elsewhere—I’m really interested in cities, looking at cities and how they work. I think even you can read a little at the end of each day, it is so beneficial. Also I just re-read 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and it is such a brilliant play and makes me laugh out loud. I always have more books I want to read than time to enjoy them.

I also find I’m reading more and more on my phone, getting digestible articles, that if I have a moment, I can drop in and out of.

If you could invite 5 famous people to dinner, dead or alive, who would they be?
I was trying to get it down to five! Oscar Wilde is a must, Hilary Clinton, Amelia Peabody, David Attenborough, Nan Goldin (her work is so edgy and different) and Robert Plant - because of my love for Led Zeppelin.

If you were in charge, what changes would you make to Belfast as a city?
I really believe in Belfast. I believe in the greatness of Belfast. I would like to see Belfast thrive and be its own thing and not become just another city that you could find anywhere. My vision for Belfast is to have a better connected city in every way - that people feel connected to each other and the city and that there is a better sense of collective ownership. I think there are many aspects to this because it’s about transport, employment, public spaces, mental maps and challenging our own behavior and patterns. I would also like to see a change in the city in terms of a better balance of gender equality with more women involved at leadership levels, making decisions and having some influence in how the city takes shape.


If you or someone you know is a City Shaper, in Belfast or across Northern Ireland, we'd love to talk to you. Contact [email protected]

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Launch and Opening: Contours of the Common | Derry~Londonderry, Fri 21st Sept, 7 - 9pm

Derry~Londonderry's public spaces are the starting point for the Centre for Contemporary Art's (CCA) autumn exhibition, Contours of the Common, which radiates from the Craft Village. Located on the banks of the River Foyle, in a landscape of remarkable natural beauty, lies a city which is uniquely visible to itself. From most vantage points, especially within the historic city walls, you encounter its topography.

Image by Andrea Geyer.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Belfast Bike Hire Scheme Lunch Briefing | Tues 25 Sept 1.10 - 1.35pm

The Belfast Bike Hire Scheme represents a £700k investment by 2015. Belfast City Council were awarded funding in August 2012 to take forward the project and provide 300 bikes and 30 docking stations. 

On Tuesday 25th September 2012 between 1.10pm and 1.35pm Anne Doherty from Belfast City Council will present the background to the hire scheme bid and the plans to be operational by 2015. There will also be a 10 minute Q&A session.

The Belfast Bike Hire scheme will attempt to
replicate the success of the Dublin scheme.

Date: Tuesday 25th September
Time: 1.10 - 1.35pm
Location: PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast
Book: Click Here (free but limited seating)

This event is organised by the Belfast Cycle City Campaign and Belfast Friends of the Earth in association with PLACE.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Out of PLACE at Culture Night: Open call for submissions

PLACE and somewhereto_ NI are looking for contributions to Out of PLACE, happening at Culture Night Belfast. Drawing on the success of our 11-day Open Source event during the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival earlier this year, PLACE will again transform a vacant space into a crowd-sourced hub for art, creativity, and discussion, this time on Belfast’s North Street.
PLACE and somewhereto_ at Culture Night Belfast 2012.

We would like to invite submissions from artists of all mediums, including Sculpture, Installation, Painting, Photography, Drawing, Film, Video, Performance, Spoken Word, and Sound.

Submissions from artists aged 16-25 are particularly encouraged.

Please email submissions to [email protected] no later than 12pm on 19th September. Selected work must be installed by 3pm on 21st September.

Your City: Chiming Old with New

PLACE held a week long summer school in August and offered the 27 attendees aged 14 to 20 the opportunity to write a short text relating to their built environment. To coincide with the launch of the summer school exhibition entitled "Your City" PLACE will publish the articles by Senan Kelly and Finn MacMillan this week on the Blog.

The "Your City" exhibition launches Thursday 13th September from 6 - 7.30pm at PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast. Everyone is welcome and refreshments will be provided. The exhibition will display the images captured by disposable film cameras alongside a selection of models and sketchbooks by the participants.

Chiming Old with New By Finn MacMillan

Monday. The clock tower strikes eleven.

A late businesswoman runs hurriedly. An eager tourist takes a snap. A swift cyclist weaves around the clock with little notice of the thunderous chimes above him.

Albert Memorial Clock.

Your City: Planning in Sight

PLACE held a week long summer school in August and offered the 27 attendees aged 14 to 20 the opportunity to write a short text relating to their built environment. To coincide with the launch of the summer school exhibition entitled "Your City" PLACE will publish the articles by Senan Kelly and Finn MacMillan this week on the Blog.

The "Your City" exhibition launches this Thursday 13th September from 6 - 7.30pm at PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast. Everyone is welcome and refreshments will be provided. The exhibition will display the images captured by disposable film cameras alongside a selection of models and sketchbooks by the participants.

Planning in Sight
By Senan Kelly

The ‘Spirit of Belfast’ public art sculpture, the brainchild of Dan George, is located in the forecourt to the Victoria Square shopping centre. From first sight it evokes a greater sense of ‘a free space’ than mechanical artistic flair.

Spirit of Belfast, Arthur Square.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Royal Exchange: What is it?

Royal Exchange is a mixed use redevelopment of the North East Quarter of Belfast City Centre. A proposal to redevelop this area of the city centre dates back to the 1990's. Since this time Ewart Properties have been purchasing land and properties in the area.

Royal Exchange. Credit: Chapman Taylor Architects

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

East Belfast Architecture Tours | Sat 8th & Sun 9th Sept

As part of the East Belfast Arts Festival we are launching a new tour exploring East Belfast. Learn about the buildings in the area, the vertical garden on the Newtownards Road, the Art Deco Strand cinema, the church where C.S Lewis was baptised and much more! 

The 'Green Wall' at the Skainos building, Newtownards Road.
Photo by Creative Change NI.

Date: Sat 8th & Sun 9th September
Time: 1pm (1 Hr 30 Mins)
Location: Front of Strand Cinema
Cost:  £3
Book: Online at this link or phone 028 9023 2524

Monday, 3 September 2012

Open call: Urban Exquis II - a cinematic installation in New York

A call is open for film-makers, artists and architects interested in contributing to a cinematic installation in First Park, Manhattan.

Click the flyer to enlarge
Click above to enlarge or visit for more information.

What next for Ulster Architecture? | Fri 7th Sept, 1pm

To kick off the European Heritage Open Days weekend, join us for a free lunchtime event at PLACE. Local experts will discuss the legacy of modern architecture in Ulster and consider what new architecture is on the horizon.

Photo by Gary Potter.

In the past number of years, new high-profile public buildings have opened: The Lyric (O'Donnell & Tuomey), The MAC (Hackett Hall McKnight) and the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre (Heneghan Peng). Are they indicative of a renaissance in contemporary Ulster Architecture, or if not, what obstacles are there between us and better contemporary architecture in Ulster?

Speakers include Barrie Todd, Ciaran Mackel, Sarah Lappin, Alastair Hall and more.

Friday 7th September | 1pm | PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast, BT1 5EE.

Book online here or phone 028 9023 2524.

PLACE present "Belfast: An Urban Walk" for European Heritage Open Days | Sat 8th & Sun 9th Sept, 11am

PLACE is delighted to be participating in the European Heritage Open Days again this September. As part of our contribution to the 2012 edition, we have prepared "Belfast: An Urban Walk". This walking tour will cover all things urban, from the pavement to the buildings and everything in between. The tour is free but booking is required as capacity is limited.

European Heritage Open Days 2012. More information at:

The free tour departs PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast, BT1 5EE at 11am Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September. The tour will last between 1.5 - 2 hours.

To book click here or phone 028 9023 2524. Read more about PLACE at EHOD 2012 at this link