Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Vacant to Vibrant: Exchange / 19 & 20 March / Strand Arts Centre, Belfast

Vacant to Vibrant: Exchange is a two-day event that will discuss international and local solutions to vacancy. Hear from decision makers, academics, artists and urbanists about inspiring projects that engage with and transform places and spaces. The conference also marks the launch of a new PLACE publication, 'Vacant to Vibrant: Rethinking Town Centres', featuring case studies of projects tackling vacancy and essays examining the issue in terms of culture, urban policy, retail and activism. 

Wed 19 March, 9.30am - 4pm / Conference & Book Launch

Xavier Boneta Lorente, Barcelona City Council / Eddie Bridgeman, Meanwhile Space / Heather Carr, Arts & Business / Michael Corr, PLACE / Donagh Horgan, Multidisciplinary Design Strategist / Michiel van Lersel, Founder, Failed Architecture / Mark Minkjan, Editor in Chief, Failed Architecture / Heather Ring, Wayward Plants / Ola Wedenbrunn, Docomomo

Thurs 20 March, 9.30am-11.30am / Talk & Panel Discussion

Dominic Cools-Lartigue, Street Feast / Wayne Hemingway MBE, Hemingway Design / Shane O’Toole, Architect, Critic & Historian

Vacant to Vibrant: Exchange is supported by the NGO Challenge Fund and the British Council.
Vacant to Vibrant: Rethinking Town Centres is supported by Arts and Business NI.


Eddie Bridgeman, Meanwhile Space
Eddie has been involved in regeneration since 2005, most recently as Projects Director at the British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA). In 2009 he co-founded Meanwhile Space CIC with the ambition of creating a social enterprise that makes the most of otherwise underused space. The organisation now delivers projects with private and public landlords and actively seeks spaces for meanwhile use, for its own projects and other people’s.

The organisation has championed meanwhile users and meanwhile use, popularising the concept in the property industry and government. It also hosts a network of 1200 meanwhile users at

Eddie is also a Director of Seasider, an enterprise to seek out and promote the contemporary activities of the British seaside to urban audiences.

Prior to his career in regeneration he worked in Europe and Asia Pacific creating, marketing and producing business to business products and services.

Heather Carr, Arts & Business
Heather Carr joined Arts & Business NI in 2002 and is Business Development Manager. Heather came from a business background working for Saatchi and Saatchi and Northern Ireland agency McCann Erickson. She currently heads up the business development function at Arts & Business NI with responsibility for business services and membership. She has managed a number of key Public Art commissions in Belfast, including KIT in Titanic Quarter and Anne in Saint Anne Square. More recently Heather has been working on initiatives to use empty retail spaces for cultural activity.

Michael Corr, PLACE / Pie Architecture
As Creative Director of PLACE Michael is responsible for developing the creative vision of the organisation in conjunction with the team and the board. Michael represents PLACE at a regional, national and international level liaising with key clients and partners and developing future creative and cultural projects for the organisation.

Michael is an architect and urban designer and is currently a director of Pie architecture in London and an architecture studio leader at London Metropolitan University (CASS). Michael previously worked as an urban designer / planning advisor with Design for London in the Greater London Authority and East architecture London where he was an associate director.

Michael has been key note speaker and an invited critic in Australia, Asia, Europe and across the UK and Ireland.

Donagh Horgan, Multidisciplinary Design Strategist
Donagh is a multidisciplinary design strategist - an architect, urban planner and service designer - with experience as a creative consultant across sectors. He consults on change and transformation for a range of organisations, recently in South America and with FutureGov in London. Working across multiple design contexts - spaces, products and services - he believes in a user-centred process to innovate and guide complex strategy. He has collaborated on a number of masterplanning and social renewal projects in Western Europe, Russia and the Middle East. This has led him to social innovation projects with the public sector - in areas such as social care, housing and service strategy. He combines knowledge of design and technology to help envisage connected solutions that combine built environment, citizens and user-centred public services. He is currently based in Dublin working to grow the capacity for strategic design practice, and is consulting for Wayra and others.

Michiel van Iersel, Founder, Failed Architecture
Michiel is an urbanist and curator working at the intersection of the arts, architecture and heritage. He studied arts and urbanism at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the University of Amsterdam and Berlin's Humboldt-Universität. Michiel is co-founder of the Amsterdam-based interdisciplinary agency Non-fiction. He started Failed Architecture in 2010 and is responsible for FA's external relationships and future activities.

Xavier Boneta Lorente, Barcelona City Council
Xavier is a political scientist who has developed different responsibilities in Barcelona's Provincial Council, first in the Cooperation Department, then in the Studies and Prospective Direction and recently more recently he joined the Local Economic Development Department as technical advisor. He has coordinated different types of research, workshops and publications mainly related to spatial development and urban policies in the local level.

Mark Minkjan, Editor in Chief, Failed Architecture
Mark is an urban and architectural geographer who is interested in the interplay between the built environment and its (changing) sociopolitical contexts. He studied urban geographies, economics and sociology at the University of Amsterdam. Mark is part of Non-fiction and works as a researcher, writer and adviser. He has been working a lot with CITIES, a.o. on We Own The City. He runs a personal blog at At Failed Architecture, Mark is Editor in Chief.

Heather Ring, Wayward Plants
Heather is a landscape architect and the founder and Creative Director of Wayward Plants. She has worked for the international landscape practices of Gustafson Porter and Martha Schwartz Partners on the design of large-scale public spaces, while developing projects that explore social engagement and ecological narratives. She has a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

Heather lectures in landscape architecture, is a Senior Editor for and sat on the editorial board of Bracket: On Farming (published by Actar Press). Born in Chicago, she moved to London in 2006.

Ola Wedenbrunn, Docomomo
Ola Wedebrunn is an architect maa, PhD, associate professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Ola Wedebrunn work involves research and development of architecture, he is a curator of exhibitions and he has published several books and articles, about Modern Movement architecture, material, technology, climate and culture. He is coordinator of Docomomo Denmark with certain concern for Nordic and Baltic cooperation. He is a member of the Docomomo Specialist Committee on Technology and ICOMOS ISC 20th century.


Wayne Hemingway MBE, Hemingway Design
Wayne is the creative force behind Hemingway Design, a multi disciplinary design agency with the core philosophy that design is about improving things that matter in life. He is involved in master planning, housing design and regeneration projects, as well as product design and he currently sits on the Design Council Trustee Board and the Design Council Cabe Committee.

He is a writer for architectural and housing publications as well as a judge of international design competitions including the regeneration of Byker in Newcastle and Salford in Greater Manchester and the Stirling Prize, Europan and a TV design commentator.

Shane O’Toole, Architect, Critic & Historian
Shane O'Toole is active as an historian, author, editor, curator, broadcaster and campaigner for threatened buildings. He has been President of the Architectural Association of Ireland and Director of the Irish Architecture Foundation, and was Ireland’s Commissioner for the Venice Biennale in 2004 and 2006. He was a founder of urban design collective Group 91 Architects and ran his own practice during the 1990s. His awards include the Grand Prix of the Cracow Architecture Biennale (1989), the Architectural Association of Ireland's Downes Medal (1996), finalist in the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award (1996), the UIA’s Sir Patrick Abercrombie Prize for town planning and territorial development (2002) and a Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland's Triennial Gold Medal commendation (2003). A member of CICA (the International Committee of Architecture Critics), he was named International Building Press Architectural Critic and Writer of the Year in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He was a founder member of Docomomo International at Eindhoven in 1990 and Docomomo Ireland in 1991.

Dominic Cools-Lartigue, Street Feast
“Street Feast is ... brilliant, that’s basically all you need to know.” Richard Bacon

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