Thursday, 31 October 2013

Belfast Civic Trust Volunteer Opportunity

Belfast Civic Trust currently has voluntary opportunities for anyone interested in Belfast's built heritage. The Civic Trust is seeking to identify buildings of architectural significance that are currently not listed by NIEA. To express interest in this voluntary opportunity please email David Flinn: [email protected]

Open Call: Belfast Civic Trust Voluntary Committee Members

Belfast Civic Trust is currently inviting expressions of interest to join its voluntary committee. The Civic Trust is a non-profit organisation registered as a charity. 

Belfast Civic Trust:
  • liaises with local and central government, architects, planners, voluntary and community groups and other bodies on environmental issues;
  • believe Belfast's Victorian and Edwardian architecture should be preserved and enhanced by sympathetic development;
  • monitor planning applications and make comments when appropriate;
  • undertake research projects (previous projects include: Ligoniel, Ballyhackamore and the Northside are of Belfast city centre);
  • initiate and promote amenity schemes in association with local communities;
  • campaign and lobby for new development in Belfast to be sympathetic to the character of the city and to be of a high design standard to make Belfast a better place for all to live in. 
To express interest in joining the Civic Trust's voluntary committee email David Flinn: [email protected]

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Have Your Say: Living Places: An Urban Stewardship and Design Guide for NI

Living Places: An Urban Stewardship and Design Guide for NI aims to clearly establish the key principles behind good place making. It seeks to inform and inspire all those involved in the process of managing (stewardship) and making (design) urban places, with a view to raising standards across Northern Ireland.


Public consultation on this draft DoE document continues until Thursday 31 October 2013.

'You and the Village' | Share your stories, pictures and drawings

Students from the Architecture School of Nantes, France are currently studying the Village housing renewal area of South Belfast and would like to hear from anyone with stories, pictures or drawings of the area.

To get in touch with the students email [email protected]

University of Ulster student Alex O'Hara receives the 2013 RTPI Joanne Mathers Award

Research into the importance of integrating public health issues with urban planning has secured a top award (the 2013 Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI NI) Joanne Mathers Award) for a student from the University of Ulster’s School of the Built Environment.

Professor Greg Lloyd, Head of the School of the Built Environment,
Alex O’Hara, recipient of the Joanne Mathers Award and
Carol Ramsey, Chairperson Royal Town Planning Institute (NI)

Alex O’Hara from Ballyclare, graduated earlier this year and undertook his research with Belfast Healthy Cities, a citywide partnership working to improve the population’s health equity and wellbeing.

He reviewed a wide range of existing national and international publications to identify why planning matters to health. His research supported the view that a quality built environment can greatly affect the standard of health and wellbeing of those who interact with it.

Alex’s research also showed that further work needs to be undertaken to improve the level of mutual understanding and integration between planning and health professionals.

Gavan Rafferty, Lecturer in Spatial Planning and Development, said Belfast Healthy Cities was delighted with the quality of Alex’s work.

He added: “His research provided added value to the organisation’s commitment to developing knowledge of building healthier cities. It also has the potential to inform wider practice in Northern Ireland, demonstrating the benefits of students undertaking ‘real life’ research projects.”

Professor Greg Lloyd, Head of the School of the Built Environment at Ulster congratulated Alex on his “well-deserved” success.

He said: “These are exciting and promising times for planning in Northern Ireland, with a reformed land use planning system in hand, the Review of Public Administration and the introduction of community planning to take place shortly - and this prestigious award reflects these ambitions.

“It is richly deserved by Alex and I wish him every success in his career. The School of the Built Environment is very proud of him.”

Caption (l-r): Professor Greg Lloyd, Head of the School of the Built Environment, Alex O’Hara, student recipient of the Joanne Mathers Award and Carol Ramsey, Chairperson Royal Town Planning Institute (NI)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Architects talking about architecture: Luke Tozer | Thursday 24 October, 1.15 - 2.15pm | University of Ulster Belfast Campus

The Belfast School of Architecture present 'Architects talking about architecture: Luke Tozer' at the University of Ulster, Belfast Campus, Room 82C02 on Thursday 24 October, 1.15 - 2.15pm.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Have Your Say: Draft Greater Ballysillan Area Masterplan

A draft masterplan has today been launched to set out a vision for the future of the Greater Ballysillan area which will be used by central and local government, community organisations and the private sector to plan investment in the area over the next 10 to 20 years.

Draft Greater Ballysillan Area Masterplan.

The masterplan has been commissioned by the Department for Social Development. The Paul Hogarth Company has been appointed from a consultancy framework to produce the masterplan. 

A series of public consultation events will give people a chance to view the proposals and share their thoughts with the consultancy team.

  • Monday 28 October (7.00-9.00pm) Westland Community Centre 
  • Tuesday 5 November (6.30-8.30pm) Benview Community Centre 
  • Wednesday 6 November (2.30-4.30pm) Concorde Community Centre 
  • Monday 11 November (5.00-7.00pm) Immanuel Church of Ireland 
  • Tuesday 12 November (6.00-8.00pm) Sacred Heart Church 
  • Wednesday 13 November (11.30-2.00pm) Eglinton Presbyterian Church 
  • Tuesday 19 November (6.30-8.30pm) Ballysillan Community Forum 
  • Thursday 21 November (5.00-7.00pm) Cavehill Methodist Church 
  • Tuesday 26 November (5.00-7.00pm) Joanmount Methodist Church 
  • Saturday 14 December (11.00-3.00pm) Boys Model School (Family Fun Day

Click here to view the Draft Greater Ballysillan Masterplan. A feedback form can be downloaded at this link. For further information email: [email protected]

Friday, 18 October 2013

RSUA Architectural Photographic Competition 2013 - Entry Date extended to Friday 6 December

Hidden Heritage Architecture in the city of Derry~Londonderry.

RSUA Architectural Photographic Competition 2013

The conservation committee of the RSUA invites entries for the Architectural Photography Award in the support of the City of Culture Derry~Londonderry 2013.

Open to all architects and architecture students and all architectural degree combinations.

Prrizes awarded for various categories and presented at an exhibition launch gala ceremony at The Ulster Hall, Belfast.

For full terms and conditions and an application form visit:

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

European Walled Towns Symposium | Thursday 24 October 2013, Derry~Londonderry

The Symposium takes place from 23 - 26 October 2013 and is hosted by the European Walled Towns Association, Holywell Trust and Derry City Council.

European Walled Towns Symposium

Through an engaging programme of lectures and activities 'Historic Towns - Walled Towns' aims to bring different communities in Europe together to share their expertise and local experiences in the following fields, and particularly against the backdrop of the economic crisis:
  • Balancing heritage conservation with job creation & regeneration priorities;
  • Engaging people and business in heritage;
  • Heritage management in post-conflict or contested spaces;
  • Creating a heritage legacy from Cities of Culture.
Speakers from various backgrounds and nationalities will present their best practice examples and three elaborate workshops allow delegates to engage in local challenges. Additionally, there is ample opportunity to connect with other delegates in a number of social events.

Historic Walled Towns - Walled Towns | Thursday 24 October 2013


Space: A Social Agenda | Friday 18 October, 10am - 4pm | The Braid Arts Centre, Ballymena

Space: A Social Agenda explores the links between art, architecture and society. The symposium takes place on Friday 18 October at the Braid Arts Centre, Ballymena. The symposium is hosted by Ballymena Borough Council, The Braid Arts Centre & Mid Antrim Museum in partnership with PLACE.


Friday, 11 October 2013

Urban Exploration: Andrew Molloy & Fergus Jordan | 30 October, 1pm, Belfast Exposed

Urban Exploration is a discussion with architect and University of Ulster doctoral student Andrew Molloy responding to urban exploration and Psychogeography, examining some of the research methods underpinning Fergus Jordan’s Garden Estate and within his own practice.

Copyright: Fergus Jordan.

Garden Estate is a new series of work examining the legacy of a heroin epidemic which devastated a 1970’s council estate on the edge of Ballymena called Dunclug. The exhibition runs from 17 October - 4 November 2013 at Belfast Exposed, Donegall Street, Belfast.

Urban Exploration takes place at Belfast Exposed, Donegall Street, Belfast on 30th October 2013 from 1 - 2pm.

For more information visit:

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Heritage Opportunity: Creating prosperity through partnership | Monday 28 October 2013

'The Heritage Opportunity' will discuss how a more strategic approach to looking at the built heritage sector can bring economic benefits to Northern Ireland. Drawing on the best examples from the UK, the conference will promote and facilitate partnerships among public, private and voluntary sectors to maximise the economic opportunities provided by our built heritage. The main focus will be on housing, tourism, creating jobs and enhancing skills. The conference aims to embed heritage as a mainstream economic driver in the next Programme for Government for Northern Ireland.

The conference will investigate key developmental challenges facing Northern Ireland and identify transformational opportunities around how space is used. By drawing inspiration from examples, we will seek to energise developers, the construction industry and the public sector. Key themes are partnership, sustainability, transforming communities and creativity.

The day will include workshops, and there will be contributions from the Departments of Environment, Enterprise and Social Development; government is clearly an interested and proactive participant.

RTPI Living Places Consultation Event | Tuesday 15 October

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Have Your Say: Ebrington Development Framework Consultation

Ilex is seeking your views on the regeneration of the Ebrington site in Derry~Londonderry.

Works completed to date include the development of Cunningham Square and Ebrington Square and the Peace Bridge and the refurbishment of building 71. Buildings 80 and 81 are currently being fitted out as temporary exhibition space for the Turner Prize 2013 and ultimately as a hub for the creative industries.

Ebrington, Derry~Londonderry

Mel Higgins, Interim Chief Executive of Ilex explained: “A development framework for the 26-acre site is currently under way to ensure sustainable development in the short, medium and long term. Ebrington will seek to attract inward investment and offer a variety of economic, social and cultural benefits,whilst being carefully integrated with the city's One Plan, which forms the basis for future development in the city. We’re therefore keen to engage with local community groups, residents, businesses and individuals, to hear their ideas, and address any concerns they may have."

The second phase of consultation will commence in November, after which an outline planning application for the entire site will be submitted in January 2014.

For more information:

Click here to have your say online. The deadline for responses is 5pm on Friday 25th October 2013.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Floors Divided | Ah Wai Chung (QUB Architecture Graduate)

Ah Wai Chung (Queen's University Architecture graduate)

Buildings in Belfast city centre have had many of their ground floors renovated to accommodate the requirements of commercial businesses. What this results in is a very obvious divide between the ground and first floor…or is it so obvious?

Credit: Ah Wai Chung

Now that the purpose of the ground floor is for commerce, it is safe to assume that all efforts have been made to divert all attention to eye level resulting in Belfast’s heritage being pushed out of view. As you can see from the images above, when viewed as a whole, aesthetically, the divide is obvious and some may argue that the divide in fact emphasises Belfast’s heritage as the contrast between floors is rather strong. However, one consideration that was emphasised during my Architecture course was considering what people could see and so it is rather unrealistic to assume people in transit would notice anything more than the ground floor; eye level barely reaches above the ground floor and is pulled back down by the attempts of the shop to advertise their wares.

Credit: Ah Wai Chung

What you find is that the ground floor features a much greater use of fenestration; to flaunt items, create transparency to appear welcoming and to exhibit those already within the store to generate interest. Then there is the lighting and signage that draws one’s attention (incidentally away from looking above) and into the building. These attitudes do not apply to only stores, as if we inspect PLACE’s design, it involves a cantilever that projects from the building thus advertising its existence from the start of the street. As can be seen from the image, PLACE’s ground (and only) floor does not, I believe, fit naturally within its context, much like the examples shown previously.

However, cities develop and as such a building’s purpose can change which results in buildings transformed rather than demolished and rebuilt to meet a new brief, The issue is not whether buildings should be changed and how drastically but rather I am writing to ask if there is a more sensitive way to treat what we currently have.

Credit: Ah Wai Chung

An interesting example is the Robinson and Cleaver building at the corner of Donegall Place and Donegall Square North which became a top department store in Belfast after opening in the late 19th century. It is now home to a restaurant which has kept the same name and I would like to direct attention to its new sign which is located underneath the original; a polite nod to times gone past. However, the building is home to multiple businesses and some are not quite as sensitive as can be seen below.

Credit: Ah Wai Chung

Referring back to my course again, we were taught to consider the building as a whole and not floor by floor. And so with that thought in mind, one might think that I am alluding to the thought that any transformation should be whole but we must first consider the buildings purpose and that is when considering a building as a whole becomes rather difficult to do. Currently, the ground floor might be owned by a form of retail business but the rest of the building is quite possibly owned by a different party and thus fulfils a different purpose such as office space. This leads to a lack of synergy both on the exterior and interior of the building. If we consider the Ulster Museum and its café on the ground floor, we can see how although they are for different purposes, they are still part of the one entity and the café provides a service for the museum as well as an experience for the users. In contrast, the floors in the city center have different purposes but were never considered together when renovated as it is very likely that both these purposes appeared at different times with no obvious interaction with one another.

Credit: Ah Wai Chung

Having already discussed the desire to draw attention to ground floors by businesses, now let us consider the inverse; the desire to not draw attention to the first floor and above. From a residential perspective, the common pattern is that you have a private room such as the bedroom on the upper floor and this attitude remains when it comes to the city center. The upper floors do not want attention because the users tend to have no interaction with the public (eg. office space) and so there is little need to change the upper floors. Although the windows may not be considered ‘small’; they pale in comparison to the transformation below thus granting them this privacy. In a way, we should be grateful that there is this contrast as it is possibly one of the reasons why our heritage still remains untouched above.

Credit: Ah Wai Chung

A more modern example of this hierarchy of spaces can clearly be seen in the Potthouse on Waring Street designed by Box Architects. It is a six storey building where the lower three floors are occupied by a bar/restaurant and the upper three floors are occupied by office space. This allocation of space is visibly apparent on the exterior which echoes what I have explained previously.

Credit: Ah Wai Chung

To summarise my final thoughts; a successful building (new or renovated) is formed by the careful consideration of its purpose as a whole but this is rather difficult when floors are purchased individually by different parties. They cater their slice of the property to their specifications which results in a considered floor in an unconsidered building. Few parties need the multiple floors our city centre buildings provide and as such, one cannot be too harsh on the pragmatic actions imposed on the buildings with the distribution of floors. But I must ask again whether there are not more moderate ways to treat the ground floor. I have already acknowledged cities develop resulting in buildings changing but if one wanted to advertise their ground floor business then surely a unified complete building would draw similar interest, if not more from afar. Now for those wanting privacy above; the fact that there is that vertical difference creates that privacy similar to residential buildings where most do not have the same stark contrast between floors.

It is difficult to find a “correct” treatment and it is not as simple as finding a middle ground.

Credit: Ah Wai Chung

Belfast School of Architecture & Art Open Night | Tues 22 Oct, 6 - 9pm

The Belfast School of Architecture and Belfast School of Art Open Night will be held on Tuesday 22 October, 6pm - 9pm at the University of Ulster's York Street Campus. Details below:

Fit for Play | Wed 6 November, 10am - 3pm

Fit for Play, hosted by Garden Escapes, will take place on Wednesday 6th November, 10am - 3pm at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast. The event is intended for anyone involved with communities and groups interested in developing outdoor gym or play facilities. 

There will also be a discussion around the new safety standards in outdoor gym equipment with Play Services Ireland.

The event is free to attend but registration is required by emailing [email protected]. Limited spaces remaining. Event queries should be directed to Richard at Garden Escapes.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

'Issues Now' coffee-time debates | Autumn 2013

'Issues Now' was a series of coffee-time debates hosted at the Black Box, Belfast on Wednesday mornings from September - December 2013. 'Issues Now' highlighted the critical issues in relation to design in the built environment and encouraged debate around these themes.

A Belfast School of Architecture (UU) event.

Emily Smyth (University of Ulster) who organised 'Issues Now' explains that:
"The issues that drive debate and development in the design of the built environment are many and varied. Issues might take place on a world stage and have individual global impact, or they may emerge locally and successionally over time or space, having impact cumulatively. The measure of their ‘criticality’ might be life threatening, environmentally destructive, socially adaptive, lifestyle impacting, economic, poetic, moral, ethical, political, professional, personal."
"A critical awareness of these matters is essential across the design and built environment disciplines in order to understand the contribution each can make to the context of concerns and ideas. This series of debates will introduce the most current preoccupations within the design of the built environment at the scales of the building, city, region and indeed the earth."
The 'Issues Now' series of coffee-time debates presented the multiplicity of views, issues and actions of the professions and campaign organisations working in design and the built environment in Northern Ireland.

Below is a summary of each event by Emily Smith (University of Ulster):