Tuesday, 4 December 2012

York Street Interchange Panel Discussion | Thurs 6 Dec, 11.30am | Ramada Encore Hotel, Belfast

Forum for Alternative Belfast are hosting a Panel Discussion on Thursday 6th December at the Ramada Encore Hotel immediately following the Minister for Regional Developments announcement of the Preferred Option for the York Street Interchange.

The possible option for the York Street Interchange
to be announced Thursday 6th December.

To read about the York Street Interchange proposal and Forum for Alternative Belfast's vision for the project click here for part one of a report by Gary Potter and click here for part two.

"This is an urban design opportunity, not merely a roads project"
Forum for Alternative Belfast

The panel discussion this Thursday 6th December at 11.30am will include Rev Campbell Dixon (St Anne's Cathedral), Patricia Freedman (Cathedral Quarter Steering Group) and John Mc Corry (North Belfast Partnership Board). There will also be representation from the University of Ulster and the local neighbourhood groups and businesses closely affected by the decision.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Connecting Territories | Mon 3 - Sun 9 Dec | Obel, Donegall Quay, Belfast

Connecting Territories is an exhibition organised by McGarry Moon Architects that illustrates the work of ten innovative architecture practices from across the UK and Ireland exploring the essence of dwelling.

Exhibitors include, Rural Design, ODOS Architects, Fergus Purdie Architects, Steve Larkin Architects, ICOSIS Architects, Rural Office for Architecture, McGarry-Moon Architects , ALMA-NAC, Jonathan Hendry Architects and STRÖM Architects.

The exhibition will be held on the ground floor of the Obel, Donegall Quay, Belfast all this week (Mon 3 - Sun 9 Dec)

Discussion with Aidan McGrath | Thurs 6 Dec, 1pm
Partner in McGonigle McGrath Architects and former PLACE Director Aidan McGrath will host a discussion of the work on show at Connecting Territories. Everyone welcome.

CPD Event | Fri 7 Dec, 12 - 3pm
CPD talks (RIBA registered) from Internorm Windows, STO Render and other tbc. 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

DSD Launch BT1 Gateway Belfast Development Proposal

The Department for Social Development is seeking public comment for a key gateway site to Belfast city centre - BT1 Gateway. The 1.2 acre site is located at the junction of Carrick Hill and North Street and entirely within public ownership.

BT1 Gateway. Credit: DSD.

Library Square, Belfast Public Realm Consultation

The Department for Social Development, Benoy, Peter Brett Associates and Drivers Jonas Deloitte have developed a public realm scheme over the past six months with key stakeholders for Library Square, Belfast. 

The space is located at the junction of Library Street and Royal Avenue near Central Library and the University of Ulster. With proximity to these civic buildings in mind the designers intends to reflect a communications and learning theme. The team intend to promote the use of media and social connectivity by providing public access to wireless internet and installing a media wall to the side of Central Library. 

Library Square Public Realm Scheme. Credit: DSD.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

NI Executive agree to proceed with £98.5m Belfast Rapid Transit system

The Northern Ireland Executive has today endorsed the Department for Regional Development’s Outline Business Case for the Belfast Rapid Transit system. The document identifies the recommended network routes, procurement strategy and business model for Belfast Rapid Transit.


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Cities as Living Labs

PLACE Volunteer Tiago Picão explains the European Living Labs initiative...

A new concept has been gaining strength since 2006, supported by the European Commission’s plan for a European Innovation System. On that year, under the auspices of the Finnish European Presidency, ENoLL, the European Network of Living Labs (, was founded. This blog entry will introduce Living Labs and highlight how the project directly relates to the built environment and particularly cities.

A Living Lab, as defined by ENoLL, is a real-life test and experimentation environment where users and producers co-create innovations. Living Labs have been characterized by the European Commission as Public-Private-People Partnerships (PPPP) for user-driven open innovation.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Free photography workshops | Sign up by 5pm on 15th November

Are you aged 16-25 and interested in learning about photography?

As part of our somewhereto_ pop-up in Derry~Londonderry, we're offering two great workshops that will introduce you to photographic techniques that capture the built environment in a unique way.

Attendance is free and all materials will be provided, but spaces are strictly limited.
For more information and to register, click here
The deadline for registration is 5pm on Thursday 15th November. 

Image by Denzil Browne

Pinhole camera workshop 
Session 1 
Wednesday 21st Nov, 11am-1pm
Session 2
Thursday 22nd Nov, 11am-12:30pm


Image by Phillip McCrilly


Point-and-shoot disposable camera workshop
Session 1
Saturday 17th Nov, 1-3pm
Session 2
Thursday 22nd Nov, 5:30-7:30

Friday, 9 November 2012

University of Ulster launch new Masters courses in Marine Spatial Planning & Coastal and Marine Tourism

The University of Ulster has launched two new distance learning Masters courses on Marine Spatial Planning and Coastal and Marine Tourism.

MSc Marine Spatial Planning. Click to Enlarge.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Connecting Territories Exhibition | 30 Nov - 9 Dec, Obel

Connecting Territories is an exhibition illustrating the works of ten innovative architecture practices from across the UK and Ireland exploring the essence of dwelling.

Each practice will be showcasing three projects from their portfolio of built and unbuilt works.

Connecting Territories

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Job Opportunity | Forum for Alternative Belfast

Forum for Alternative Belfast, are looking for an architect / graduate, part or full time, for a temporary contract to work on a specific project. 

Forum for Alternative Belfast's Missing City Map. 

The project will require good AutoCad 2D and Sketch-up skills. A methodical approach and a love of accuracy will be needed. Short term contract, flexibility on hours possible.

To apply send your CV to [email protected]

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

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. 

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

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.

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:

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]

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.

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.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

PLACE Urban Design Summer School Day Five | Workshop Results & Prizes

The PLACE Urban Design Summer School is a week long event for 14 - 20 years olds to explore architecture, design, public art, sketching, photography, urban history and more! The week offers the 27 young people registered a chance to learn about the built environment through exciting workshops, fascinating tours and more!

The Summer School is a part of 'out of PLACE' in Ireland's tallest building, The Obel. With support from Karl Group and McConnell Property PLACE are occupying the ground floor with fantastic views over-looking the River Lagan until September. Out of PLACE will also host the 'Secret Laboratories' exhibition and the 'RSUA President's Medal: The Shortlist' exhibition.

Let's see what everyone got up to on day five with a visit to the Lagan Weir, the Workshop Results and Prize Giving...

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

What I learned from the FAB Summer School 2012

Anna Skoura works with the Forum for Alternative Belfast and is a contributor to the PLACE Blog. She reports on the Forum's recent Summer School, "Re-stitching the city" held at Belfast City Hall from 13th-17th August.

The Forum for Alternative Belfast (FAB) 2012 Summer school took place two weeks ago (13-17 August) in the City Hall. The event was organised in collaboration with the East (EWPB) and West Belfast Partnership Boards (WBPB). The theme was “Re-stitching the city” and its primary goal was to address the very poor connection of the city centre with East and West Belfast. This is the fourth FAB Summer school, after 2009 which resulted to the "missing city map", 2010 which focused on North Belfast and 2011 on South Belfast. It followed the same structure: presentations for the first two days, public consultation on Tuesday and Wednesday evening and workshops during the rest of the week.
Photo by David Bunting
The organisers along with Belfast’s governmental and community bodies (Belfast City Council, East and West Belfast Partnership boards, Department for Social Development (DSD), Department of Environment (DOE), Department for regional Development (DRD)) presented their views and future projects related to the study areas.

Right from the start, it was interesting to see the distinctive approach that East and West Partnership representatives held during their opening presentations. Maurice Kinkead (CEO of EBPB) in an optimistic manner highlighted the positive impact of the Partnership’s recent activity in certain areas of East Belfast, while Geraldine McAteer (WBPB), very concerned, underlined West Belfast’s challenges and most urgent needs. Regarding the presentations given by the different Departments, the lack of a comprehensive vision for the city’s future and the lack of inter-departmental collaboration becomes evident. Sadly, clashing projects are sometimes the result.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Ormeau Road Architecture Tours | 24 - 26 August 2012

PLACE blue badge tour guide Rosie Hickey will lead three Architecture Tours this weekend as part of the Household Belfast  festival. Household Belfast is an event that encourages audiences to re-negotiate the way in which they view and interact with art in the city. It offers an opportunity to experience new work in unrestrictive, non-commercial and un-institutionalised contexts by inviting members of the public into selected artists’ homes.

Tours depart the former Ormeau Bakery at the corner of Ava Avenue
and Ormeau Road Friday 24th, 6pm, Saturday 25th, 2pm and Sunday 26th, 12pm.

The tour of the Ormeau Road has been carefully researched and prepared by Rosie who is a PhD student at Queens University and an Architectural Historian with an eye for detail.

The tours depart from the former Ormeau Bakery at the corner of Ava Avenue and Ormeau Road. There will be a tour at 6pm Friday 24th, 2pm Saturday 25th and 12pm Sunday 26th.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Free Lecture: Heritage & Development - The Polish Experience | Thurs 6 Sept, 12.30pm

Polish Cultural Week are hosting a free public lecture in partnership with the Ulster Museum, the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh, Polish Cultural Institute in London and PLACE. 

Professor Dr. Jacek Purchla will present "Heritage and Development - The Polish Experience" on Thursday 6th September at 12.30pm.

Click to Enlarge

For more information or to book email: [email protected].

Light lunch will be served after the lecture.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

PLACE Urban Design Summer School Day Four | Urban Design & Building Visits

The PLACE Urban Design Summer School is a week long event for 14 - 20 years olds to explore architecture, design, public art, sketching, photography, urban history and more! The week offers the 27 young people registered a chance to learn about the built environment through exciting workshops, fascinating tours and more!

The Summer School is a part of 'out of PLACE' in Ireland's tallest building, The Obel. With support from Karl Group and McConnell Property PLACE are occupying the ground floor with fantastic views over-looking the River Lagan until September. Out of PLACE will also host the 'Secret Laboratories' exhibition and the 'RSUA President's Medal: The Shortlist' exhibition.

Let's see what everyone got up to on day four with a particular focus on Urban Design and some exciting Building Visits...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

PLACE Urban Design Summer School Day Three | Sketching & Model Making

The PLACE Urban Design Summer School is a week long event for 14 - 20 years olds to explore architecture, design, public art, sketching, photography, urban history and more! The week offers the 27 young people registered a chance to learn about the built environment through exciting workshops, fascinating tours and more!

The Summer School is a part of 'out of PLACE' in Ireland's tallest building, The Obel. With support from Karl Group and McConnell Property PLACE are occupying the ground floor with fantastic views over-looking the River Lagan until September. Out of PLACE will also host the 'Secret Laboratories' exhibition and the 'RSUA President's Medal: The Shortlist' exhibition.

Let's see what everyone got up to on day three with a particular focus on Sketching and Model Making...

Friday, 10 August 2012

PLACE Urban Design Summer School Day Two | Urban Planning & Tours

The PLACE Urban Design Summer School is a week long event for 14 - 20 years olds to explore architecture, design, public art, sketching, photography, urban history and more! The week offers the 27 young people registered a chance to learn about the built environment through exciting workshops, fascinating tours and more!

The Summer School is a part of 'out of PLACE' in Ireland's tallest building, The Obel. With support from Karl Group and McConnell Property PLACE are occupying the ground floor with fantastic views over-looking the River Lagan until September. Out of PLACE will also host the 'Secret Laboratories' exhibition and the 'RSUA President's Medal: The Shortlist' exhibition.

Let's see what everyone got up to on day two with a particular focus on Urban Planning...

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Young people ask: What is Belfast Missing?

Our young Urban Designers. Photo by Robin Cordiner.

This week, a group of young people aged 14 to 19 have been gathering in a vacant Belfast shop unit to discuss “what Belfast is missing”. They have been brought together for a week-long Urban Design Summer School held at ‘out of PLACE’, a temporary intervention in Belfast’s Obel Tower.

Some of the participants thought that trams were essential for Belfast, while others said that more parks and green spaces were a priority for the city centre. One participant had the idea of forming a public planning council to give people more say in important decisions about the built environment.

"The most interesting aspects were actually all those things that seemed mundane at first," said Finn MacMillan (19) from Belfast, who studies Art History in Edinburgh. "Like transport: how do you balance cycling, public transport and the car?"

PLACE Urban Design Summer School Day One | Public Art

The PLACE Urban Design Summer School is a week long event for 14 - 20 years olds to explore architecture, design, public art, sketching, photography, urban history and more! The week offers the 27 young people registered a chance to learn about the built environment through exciting workshops, fascinating tours and more!

The Summer School is a part of 'out of PLACE' in Ireland's tallest building, The Obel. With support from Karl Group and McConnell Property PLACE are occupying the ground floor with fantastic views over-looking the River Lagan until September. Out of PLACE will also host the 'Secret Laboratories' exhibition and the 'RSUA President's Medal: The Shortlist' exhibition.

Let's see what everyone got up to on day one with a particular focus on Public Art...

Monday, 30 July 2012

7 days to go...

Our names are Gemma Armstrong and Helen Burnett, and we are built environment students currently working with PLACE this summer as urban design summer school interns.  And the preparation is now most certainly complete for our summer school which begins in exactly one week from today!  Being the two interns solely responsible for the smooth running of the event, we are excited but slightly overwhelmed by the experience of preparing for the week, but can honestly say we are confident for a successful one.

One of the most exciting aspects of the week is the venue.  We received the news that we have been granted the ground floor space of the Obel building.  With the reputation of being Ireland’s tallest building, excellent panoramic views over the River Lagan to the docks, and at the heart of city centre re-development, it is the perfect location to host our young and creative participants.
The Obel Tower, our venue for the week

What is even more intriguing is the ‘blank canvas’ it provides us with, with a huge interior space of purely concrete and glass.  This means we get the fun job of interior designing also!  Not only are we designing a studio space for the summer school, but also designating space to host film nights and an exhibition area, which are certainly occupying us as the days draw ever closer to the 6th of August.  And we haven’t even mentioned the fun we have been having in trying to solve the toilet issue!  
Our 'blank canvas'
In terms of the week, we have packed it with a wide range of activities from boat trips, theatre visits and walking tours.  The material list for the week is growing daily, including unusual items such as balloons and play-doh, so it certainly promises to be an interesting and creative week!
The collection of materials is growing each day

So as the event draws even closer, make sure to spread the word and get signed up as there are still a few places available!

If you’re aged between 14-19 and interested in taking part, the summer school is taking place on Monday 6th to Friday 10th of August at a cost of £50.  For more information please do not hesitate to call us on 028 9023 2524, call in and visit us, or sign up via the website:

Friday, 27 July 2012

Big changes in our Habitat

Habitat for Humanity's last site at Templemore Avenue in East Belfast
Big changes are ahead for well-known charity Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland, as they move away from building cross-community social and affordable houses in Northern Ireland. The popular building developments - the only NI entry in the publication 'Design Like You Give a Damn' - are to be replaced with a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Habitat for Humanity NI was founded in 1994 by Peter Farquharson and his wife Jane McCarthy, when Northern Ireland was still in the grip of ‘The Troubles’ and segregation of communities was at its most extreme. Peter envisioned using the Habitat model locally as a way for communities and individuals to rebuild trust and restore relationships - bringing Catholics and Protestants together, simply to build houses, build community and build hope.

Over the last 18 years Habitat for Humanity NI delivered more than 90 homes across 9 different communities and brought together more than 17,000 volunteers from all backgrounds and faiths to work together for the good of families in need. This latest news come just 5 mounts after the NI Peace Monitoring Report suggests that segregation continues across politics, housing and education - and that the region is at risk of lurching back into the past.

The new houses designed by BGA Architects Ltd in association with Habitat for Humanity NI and Tyrone Timber Frames Ltd, were designed so that they were low cost, low energy urban houses. The terrace of 6 houses addresses the strong pattern of Belfast terraced streets in the old ship-building part of the city. The narrow-fronted houses have double height spaces to create the illusion of more space and also to encourage natural stack effect ventilation from the open plan ground floor. A mezzanine floor overlooks the living space below or could provide a future fourth bedroom if required. Externally the houses are finished with red brick to complement the existing housing stock. Large zinc-clad vertical 'box' windows reinterpret the traditional bay window typology.

As Habitat for Humanity's last site at Templemore Avenue in East Belfast nears completion, the charity hopes to launch a ReStore in Northern Ireland. The ReStore is a retail outlet selling new and used surplus building and home improvement materials. This project will be the first Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Europe. Habitat plans to move from the Springfeild Road to a new location in Lisburn. The new store will be a hub for their work in Northern Ireland; this will be an opportunity to raise sustainable income, serve more local families through low cost materials, protect the environment and provide a new way for volunteers to engage with Habitat's work over the long term. 

Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland is also a key partner in Habitat’s global mission raising funds and sending teams to Romania, Malawi, Cambodia, Ethiopia, El Salvador and India. One in every five-hundred people from Northern Ireland have built homes alongside families in need in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

As many property development companies and charities reshape their business plans to face the economic down turn in land prices and property value. While ReStores in the Unites States and Canada have been very popular, raising much need income for the charity, one still feels that there will be a vacuum left behind with the changes away from cross community building.