Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A Review of Chris Ware's 'Building Stories'

PLACE Volunteer Andrew Molloy reviews 'Building Stories' by Chris Ware ahead of our first event in the Urban Library Series. Artist and Architect Marcus Patton will explore the literature that has influenced his work and shaped the built environment on Thursday 1st November at 6.30pm. Free but booking essential at

The medium of the comic book has long been derided as a medium for children, the ‘nerd,’ or the intellectually impaired. Despite the best efforts of writers such as Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, combined with the broadsheets rebranding of the rather untoward sounding ‘adult comic book’ with the haughty term ‘graphic novel,’ the perception of the comic as a conveyor of nothing other than empty-headed titillation still holds sway. A new epic graphic novel by Chris Ware stands in direct opposition to this.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Photography competition

This is the place
Photography from the ground up

Are you aged between 16-25 and interested in photography?

somewhereto_NI, in association with PLACE and Belfast Exposed are delighted to announce a unique photography competition that invites young people to show us their local places as they see them.

We are all familiar with images that show the important monuments and landmarks of our built environment. Other, less remarkable features of the places we live also have important significance in our daily lives - the bus stop closest to our house, the park bench we go to on our breaks, a piece of graffiti we pass every morning.

This is the place: Photography from the ground up invites submissions that capture your personal relationship to the spaces in which you live, work and socialise.

As well as exciting prizes for the overall winner and two runners-up, 10 finalists will have their entries featured in a limited edition publication. Selected entrants will also have the opportunity to be part of an upcoming exhibition to be held in Derry-Londonderry later in 2012.

No experience is necessary to apply, and we encourage submissions that take advantage of the variety and accessibility of photographic devices, such as camera phones, photo apps, and both digital and analogue formats.

Give us your best shot!

The deadline for submissions is 5pm on 10th November 2012
All entries are subject to the competition terms and conditions.

Submit an image >>

Monday, 29 October 2012

Laganside - Belfast Sonic Poetry App

By PLACE Volunteer Andrew Molloy.

It seems all too easy to criticise Belfast’s tired looking Langanside development, perhaps this is because it’s all too easy to forget how bad the post-industrial wasteland the banks of the Lagan were in the late eighties. It’s also easy to forget how incredible the aspirations of the Laganside Corporation were, given that it formed almost a decade before the Good Friday Agreement.

The new 'Laganside - Belfast Sonic Poetry App’ for smartphones highlights this dichotomy, enabling users to engage with this at times forsaken area; an area where Belfast’s aspirations, past, present and future, are made flesh. Developed by PhD music student John D’Arcy, the app was launched on Culture Night 2012.

Taking on and surpassing the recent sonic arts trend in “digitised relational maps using embedded media”, ‘Laganside’ makes use of the contemporary epic poem of the same name, with a great reading by voice over artist Patrick FitzSymons. D’Arcy explains the reasons for choosing this particular piece by Belfast poet Alan Gillis. “Laganside doesn’t name particular places, but you know where he’s talking about, or you think you know and make your own connections based on your experience of Belfast, your personal history of it”. The app makes the perceived academia of both the sonic arts and poetry immediate and accessible, allowing the user to bridge the gap between the text and the space to which it refers.

The app’s unique design, by visual artist Gerard Carson, makes use of the smart phone’s ‘geo-location’ ability to track the user’s position along a three mile walk hugging the river. As the user approaches specific areas ‘soundscapes’ are triggered. A flurry of distorted music, sound effects and barely audible voices heightens the experience and lends further weight to both poem and locale. “The poem remains the same”, John explains, “but depending on your location your experience of it differs”. There are a number of other poems which can only be ‘collected’ by visiting locations along the route, something which should lend the app longevity, and perhaps suggesting that further routes could be added in the future.

The first soundscape I experienced was located at a platform jutting out into the river immediately behind the Waterfront Hall. As I ascended the short ramp to the platform a frenzy of noise overwhelmed me and the previously jovial voice in my ear took on a sinister air. I stood overlooking the river; several seagulls lined up along the steel balustrade eyed me resentfully before one by one taking off toward the lough; a train glided gently over the water; the city loomed behind. I felt consumed by sound, the rhythm of the verse and my environment.

The meandering cadence of the poem, which describes a man’s walk along the regenerated riverfront with his ‘better half,’ gradually builds towards an understated yet profound climax. “Leaving me to find our way back to the streets, knowing I’ll never leave here, or come back again”. Fighting back the lump in my throat, the words resonated so strongly. From the grit and filth of the late eighties Belfast has surpassed itself, moving so fast the city is at times hard to recognise. The Laganside area is the embodiment of Belfast’s decline and regeneration; a city which never fails to impress and disappoint in equal measure.

‘Laganside - Belfast Sonic Poetry App’ is available for free on iTunes for iOS and Google Play for Android.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

72 Hour Urban Action Introduction Workshop | Derry~Londonderry, Nov 6th 2012

In September 2013, as part of the City of Culture 2013 celebrations, the world's first real-time architecture competition will come to Derry~Londonderry in an attempt to transform public space. 120 people within 10 international teams will have a limited budget, defined space and only 3 days and nights to design and build interventions in response to local needs. They will aspire to prove that change is possible, in the most direct and timely way. 

72 Hour Urban Action in Stuttgart, Germany.

What To Do With An Architecture Degree

By PLACE Volunteer Emma Campbell 

Those who have completed a degree in architecture owe it to themselves to reassess their career decisions.

Image: Taken from ‘Working out of Box’ segment on Igor Siddiqui
an Architect turned Product Designer. ‘Ripstop nylon prototype’. Link.
Traditionally, Architecture is considered a vocational degree leading to a determined job description as an ‘Architect’. While this is still the case, architecture graduates can and do consider many other career paths. Alas; it is possible! Try not to feel that innate pressure to continue your studies without the knowledge that you are doing it for the right reasons. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Belfast Sustainability Jam - 2nd - 4th Nov 2012, PLACE, Fountain Street

On November 2, 2012, people interested in a design-based approach to creativity will meet at locations all over the globe.

Service designers, object designers, sustainability experts, professors, business people, teachers, hackers, makers, artists, students, mums and grandpas will form teams and work together for 48 hours to create brand-new real-world ideas which can make a difference.

Through the weekend, participants will be linked to other jammers at other sites around the globe, working in different ways on different answers to the same challenge, sharing problems, advice, and insights. On Sunday at 3pm, you will publish your results to the world.

Click to Enlarge. Image by Tiago Picao.

Belfast Sustainability Jam will be hosted at PLACE, 40 Fountain Street, Belfast from 2 - 4 November 2012. Registration is free but limited to 28 people so booking is essential.

For more information and to register please visit:

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Architecture Online: Top 5 Websites and Blogs

PLACE Volunteer Anna Skoura blogs about her favourite Architecture websites and blogs...

The web is full of sites, blogs, tweets, Facebook pages and much more devoted to architecture. You want to be up to date, but cannot possibly follow everything. You are crying out for someone to guide you through the sea of endless information. Dear Place Blog followers, you don’t have to worry anymore. I am here to help you! I undertook the painstaking task of endless browsing  and selected the “creme de la creme” of architecture online for you. Today you can find the lists of “Top 5 Websites” and “Top 5 Blogs” and soon to come the lists of “Top 5 Facebook pages” and “Top 5 twitter accounts”.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Reface the Base: Students Devise Grand Design for 40,000sq ft Retail Space at Victoria Square Belfast

A group of Northern Irish architecture students have created a unique design proposal, which is being considered for a prime 40,000 square feet retail unit in Northern Ireland’s largest shopping centre.

The massive basement unit, located below the Ann Street entrance to Victoria Square, Belfast, is currently unoccupied and owners, Commerz Real created a unique ‘Reface the Base’ competition, inviting local students to submit plans as to how the space could be used.

Reface the Base: University of Ulster architecture students, Carrie Gillespie, William Brewster and
Sarah Mitchell are presented with their prize for winning Victoria Square’s ‘Reface the Base’ design
competition by Aline Djaider, UK real estate manager, Commerz Real AG (second from right). The
student’s innovative design, depicted in the artists impressions pictured proposed the introduction of
smaller retail units aimed at independent retailers; a novel amphitheatre for concerts and live performances;
a catwalk for fashion events; a children’s play area, crèche and bowling alley in a vacant 40,000 sq ft unit
in the basement of Victoria Square. Owners Commerz Real are now conducting a feasibility study to
determine whether the proposal is commercially viable.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Victoria J Dean: The Fortified Coastline | 6 Oct - 24 Nov, Millenium Court Arts Centre, Portadown

The Fortified Coastline exhibition by Victoria J. Dean runs until 24 November 2012 at the Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown. The work focuses on the built environment of the coastline around Ireland.

Click to Enlarge

UAHS Heritage Time Conference | Tues 30 Oct 2012, ChristChurch, Belfast

The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society present a conference aimed at promoting the continued use, sustainable reuse and adaption of historic buildings at the heart of communities by the government, local groups and private individuals. Heritage Time will take place at ChristChurch, Belfast on Tuesday 30th October 2012, 9am - 3pm. The application to attend (see end of post) should be returned to the UAHS by post or email: [email protected]

Credit: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Hall McKnight win competition to redevelop Quadrangle at King's College London

Belfast based Hall McKnight Architects have won the competition to redevelop the Quadrangle at King’s College London’s historic Strand Campus.

Credit: Hall McKnight Architects.

They fought off strong competition from Estudio Barozzi Veiga; Estudio Carme Pinos with Soto-Lay Architects; Eric Parry Architects; Henley Halebrown Rorrison and Zaha Hadid Architects. Hall McKnight’s submission was considered to be unique in playing to the strengths of the historic buildings surrounding the Quad.

Ian Caldwell, Director of Estates & Facilities at King’s, said: "Hall McKnight had undertaken an impressive analysis of the site and presented a clear philosophy. By uncovering layers of the past, the architects showed a real engagement with the history of the buildings surrounding the Quad. The competition jury panel was impressed with Hall McKnight’s passion, intelligence, strategic sense and communicative ability. I am confident that Hall McKnight will develop a detailed design and create an innovative learning and social space for King’s students, staff and the wider community."

Credit: Hall McKnight Architects

Hall McKnight commented: "We are delighted to emerge as the winners of this competition from among such a strong shortlist; it’s an ideal project for us. We enjoyed the process of developing our approach and engaging with such a considered brief that successfully articulated the views and aspirations of the staff and students at King’s. We look forward to developing the project with the university to transform the Quadrangle as a new focus for the Strand Campus without disrupting the special qualities inherent in this most distinctive of spaces in London." 

The Strand Quadrangle Architectural Competition Exhibition is still available online and can be found on the College website.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

RICS Northern Ireland 18th Annual Planning & Development Conference | 17th Oct, City Hall

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Northern Ireland 18th Annual Planning and Development Conference entitled "Revitalising Town and City Centres - Practical Solutions" will take place at Belfast City Hall on 17th October 2012.

Donegall Place, Belfast. Credit:

Rathlin Island Seminar | 24 October, 1.30 - 4.30pm, Waterman House, 5 - 33 Hill Street, Belfast

Northern Ireland Environment Agency: Built Heritage is holding an archaeological seminar on the theme of Rathlin Island to mark the publication of Rathlin Island: An Archaeological Survey of a Maritime Landscape by Wes Forsythe and Rosemary McConkey.

Credit:  NIEA: Built Heritage.

The seminar will be held on Wednesday 24th October from 1:30 - 4:30pm in the Monuments and Buildings Record, Waterman House, 5-33 Hill Street, Town Parks, Belfast, BT1 2LA.

If you are interested in attending the seminar, pre-booking is essential. To reserve a place please email [email protected] or Tel 028 9054 3159.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

North Belfast: New Planning Potentials? | Wed 10 Oct, 9am - 2pm

North Belfast: New Planning Potentials is a workshop-led discussion among community and statutory stakeholders regarding how the future of North Belfast can be planned.

Map produced by Forum for Alternative Belfast.

Students of Queen’s University School of Planning, Architecture & Civil Engineering have been conducting extensive spatial analysis of North Belfast as the first part of a 3 year research project, titled Planning for Spatial Reconciliation.

The event will present the students’ outputs in order to provoke a frank and open discussion about how the issues facing North Belfast can be addressed by the new planning processes being introduced in April 2015.

Event Details: