Communities as constructs of People and Architecture: Historically assessing the spatial legacy of The Troubles in inner-city Belfast, 1969-1994.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Ulster
Department Name: Sch of Architecture and Design

Abstract

The Troubles describes the social-historical phenomenon occurring between 1969 and 1994 when the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland was at its most extreme. Those 25 years have had a profound impact on the social, political, economic, cultural and spatial structures of Northern Ireland ever since. The consequent reaction by government, security and statutory authorities bore witness to a profound material impact upon inner-city communities resulting in architectural and spatial disconnection and disengagement with the economic and social structures that manage, govern and regulate the built environment.

This review focuses on a specific aspect of material impact, the built structures installed within the inner-city to divide streets, disconnect spatial continuity, mitigate against vehicular flow and limit pedestrian movement. These vary in implementation and include walls, bollards, landscaping and the locating of housing across the path of existing streets. This material impact is extensive across inner-city Belfast. Whilst the sociological and economic impact of The Troubles has received much research attention the impact of these built interventions has yet to be systematically assessed. This review recognises the inner-city exemplar of Ballymacarrett, East Belfast as a community of disconnected people and disconnected spaces. The considered implementation of these divisive built structures has served to fundamentally fragment and spatially disconnect this community. This review conceives of a community as an intrinsic ecosystem of people and the built environment and addresses the challenging issue of engaging a disenfranchised and disconnected community with a broad range of stakeholders and academic research. The review process is a catalyst for inclusive discussion that involves a team of project partner stakeholders, directly linking the review process with the agencies with the remit and funding to implement urban regeneration and social housing policy review and change.

The aims of this review are to utilise knowledge gained from academic and practice-based research methods to inform and stimulate discussion amongst key stakeholders with active inclusion from policy makers and the community. Such discussion has the stated aim of developing a policy discussion mechanism that will continue to progress the issues highlighted by the review beyond the review period. These aims meet address the objective of engaging research with non-academic stakeholders; empowering the related community; developing a methodological framework that is transferable to other contexts.

The creation of buildings and spaces is a complex scenario involving stakeholders across the social, political and economic spectrum. As a consequence built artefacts contain much embedded information pertaining to a wide variety of perspectives that concern, and have potential to engage, the community within which they are installed. The research team of an architect and a fine art photographer presents a cross disciplinary approach to analysing this context. The disciplines have been aligned to provide a historical record that is accessible to a diverse audience of community, policy, politics and academia. Architectural and spatial analysis will identify Case Studies of built structures that will be documented and illustrated through conceptual photographic representation. Built structures will be utilised as mechanisms to extract data of historical and contemporary importance, eliciting new knowledge. Disconnections will be highlighted and former connections illuminated. The key relationships that are revealed will be essential tools towards addressing the very real architectural and spatial issues within inner-city Belfast communities. Such analysis will present a new perspective to the social, political, economic, cultural and spatial factors that shaped physical change in this community in a distinct and extreme period in cultural history.

Planned Impact

A major impact of this review process will be the direct engagement of the review findings with the key stakeholders responsible for urban regeneration policy and strategy review, and social housing policy review. These agencies, The Department for Social Development and The Northern Ireland Housing Executive, are included as project partners in this review process. This engagement will be facilitated through a structured Stakeholder Engagement Workshop that will take place in August 2012.

A key objective of this workshop will be to support the formation of a Stakeholder Working Group that will maintain progressive discussions beyond the review period and help promote public sector impact. The workshop will address the issue of which agency is most appropriately placed to steer this issue forward.

Community representation will also form a key part of the Stakeholder Engagement Workshop and this will impact positively on this element of the general public. This Workshop will include specific activities that have been designed to bring members of the community into this engagement process, empowering them with the ability to be equitable participants. The active inclusion of community consultation in the review will form evidence-based findings that can feed readily in a mechanism that promotes policy change beyond the review period, as envisaged in the Stakeholder Working Group. This will help promote cultural change within a community that is disenfranchised and suffers high levels of social deprivation.

There will also be impact on Third Sector agencies related to this review. The East Belfast Community Development Agency and East Belfast Mission are project partners that have established third sector agency initiatives promoting health and well being in East Belfast. Both agencies will be collaborators in the Stakeholder Engagement Workshop. This process will engage these agencies with the review process and findings, thus fostering relationships. This process of engagement will link the real issues that are highlighted by the review with Third Sector agencies with the established infrastructure to help ameliorate these issues

The review process employs a developing methodology that is applied to a case study context. A major academic impact of this work will be its transferability to other contexts, where communities are impacted upon by conflict and where built structures can be distilled and interpreted to reveal historical information. This methodological inquiry provides an innovative approach to the Arts & Humanities and will be of interest to related researchers. This methodology and the new knowledge that it provides will be brought to the international academic community through articles in journals like the Journal of Architecture and History of Photography. A peer-review Workshop will take place in May 2012. The purpose of this activity is to further develop the research findings, in-progress, with acknowledged experts in the field, such as Eyal Weizmann (Professor of Spatial & Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths College, London), Stephen Graham (School of Architecture, Newcastle University), Mark Power (Professor of Photography, Brighton University) and David Campany (Reader in Photography, University of Westminster). This will be a multi-disciplinary meeting discussing inter-disciplinary research methodologies and provides a mechanism for knowledge exchange between the participants. The School of Architecture & Design has been developing a research focus in the area of Architecture, The Troubles and The Community, which this research would boost. A follow-up Symposium hosted by the School would disseminate the review findings to a wider research audience both within the University and amongst policy makers, politicians and the community.
 
Description Three significant findings have emerged from this research:

1: The research hypothesised a policy gap which has been substantiated through the research project. The Together: Building a United Community Strategy is the main policy framework addressing the spatial legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict. However this document focuses on known 'Interface' architecture such as the widely recognised 'peace walls'. This research project has substantiated the presence of another architectural legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict that fits the criteria to be addressed by current policy, but which is not under that policy radar. The credible evidence supported through the research findings has been used to build a collaborative cross-disciplinary research team for a funded follow-on project (AH/M001342/1) comprising academia, community and policy makers, which will now examine this research context especially in relation to government policy objectives.

2: This funded research has also helped develop and test a stakeholder engagement workshop format for the investigation of space by specialist and non-specialist actors (as discussed in the Narrative) that will now be taken forward and applied in a city wide study in a follow-on funded project (AH/M001342/1).

3: The research fieldwork led to the emergence of a related research trajectory concerning a further related policy gap within the east Belfast policy regeneration context. This spin-off research project was written up in the publication: Reflections on Titanic Quarter: the cultural and material legacy of an historic Belfast brand. (DOI:10.1080/13602365.2013.804855TQ).
Exploitation Route Research findings will be primarily taken forward by way of follow-on funded research project AH/M001342/1.

Research processes have led to the generation of innovative, high quality fine art photographic outputs and architectural spatial analysis. These outputs will be supplemented and expanded through project AH/M001342/1. The research team have been approached confidentially by a major international gallery to discuss the development of an exhibition of these, and further, research findings. The funder will be kept fully informed as this develops.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description Societal and economic impact: The modest funding utilised by the 'Historically assessing the spatial legacy of The Troubles in inner-city Belfast, 1969-1994' project has produced sector-significant and demonstrable social, economic and environmental impact in Belfast. Collaborative development of the research methodology by community and academic partners has engaged residents in the generation of data that has been used to increase community capacity to inform policy and secure funding. This process commenced with a series of stakeholder engagement workshops which tested, developed and piloted as part of this research, provided an opportunity for knowledge-exchange and co-production of knowledge, thus aiding capacity in the participating community and third-sector organisations. This engagement process helped engage local residents in a structured research process with community partners and professional stakeholders from local and regional government. This has led to the co-production of knowledge that is now benefiting local urban regeneration and social housing policy actions. Community organisation reports using data generated by the project revealed new post-conflict regeneration issues within East Belfast. Stakeholder workshops with policymakers, including then Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy, raised awareness and changed attitudes towards these issues. This enabled the research findings to impact a number of notable social and urban regeneration impact outcomes • Lower Castlereagh Community Association secured £30,000 funding from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to establish the 'Diamond Project', community regeneration programme • A full-time community based job funded in Charter NI supporting the project • Upgrading and enhancement of a series of architectural artefacts highlighted by research carried out by David Coyles as being related to military security strategy during the Troubles conflict • Upgrading and resurfacing of roads, footpaths, and general landscaping in the local community Follow-on policy impact: Impact activities are expanded through the follow-on and much larger Communities as Constructs of People & Architecture 2015 project (AH/M001342/1) with a collaborative research team involving key policy maker project partners from the Northern Ireland government. This follow-on project has the capacity to influence policy formulation in the areas of housing, physical development, public safety and social regeneration. These cross-cutting themes are united under the united community strategy and involve a range of government departments. An experienced and inter-disciplinary research team cover built environment, social policy, post-conflict transformation and community engagement, offering a highly relevant and cross-cutting forum for the discussion of future policy. Government project partners will facilitate dissemination of the research findings through policy symposia which consider the data in relation to policy objectives. This team will develop collaborative Discussion Papers that will be evaluated with government partners through the symposia mechanisms to produce Departmental Working Papers that clarify policy implications in relation to the Together: Building a United Community Strategy. Moreover, in 2015 a range of planning powers in Northern Ireland will be transferred from central to local government. Local government Project Partner Belfast City Council will organize and chair a series of structured Briefing Sessions during the research process to ensure that research findings are disseminated to the full range of related council agencies responsible for the development of local community plans and eventual management and regulation of these areas.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description AHRC Standard Grants
Amount £390,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/M001342/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2015 
End 11/2017
 
Description BCC 
Organisation Belfast City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods and data. Facilitating engagement between this department, local community representatives, and the wider academic research environment. Highlighting policy gaps addressed by this research ahead of local government taking over community planning and development in 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitate the structured dissemination of emerging research findings to the full range of relevant local council agencies who will be involved in the eventual planning, management and regulation of the case study areas examined during the follow-on funding application.
Impact Project Partner on follow-on project AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2013
 
Description DSD / BRO 
Organisation Government of the UK
Department Department for Social Development (DSD)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods and data. Facilitating engagement between this department, local community representatives, and the research environment.
Collaborator Contribution Sharing of historical information; answering questions and providing information to assist with research data collection. Attendance at research discussion symposia, workshops and participation in research interviews.
Impact Project partner in this related AHRC award. This partnership continues to facilitate the provision of information to support ongoing research in this area; in particular, this department will be involved in policy symposia and related departmental working papers that are a core outcome of a related follow-on-funding application.
Start Year 2011
 
Description DoJ 
Organisation Government of Northern Ireland
Department Department of Justice
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods and data. Facilitating engagement between this department, local community representatives, and the wider academic research environment. Highlighting policy gaps addressed by the follow-on research project.
Collaborator Contribution ddd
Impact Project Partner on follow-on project AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2013
 
Description EBCDA 
Organisation East Belfast Community Development Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods and data. Facilitating engagement between this agency and the academic research environment.
Collaborator Contribution Attendance at research discussion symposia, workshops and participation in research interviews.
Impact Project partner in this related AHRC award.
Start Year 2011
 
Description EBM 
Organisation East Belfast Mission
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods and data. Facilitating engagement with government project partners and the academic research environment.
Collaborator Contribution Attendance at research discussion symposia and workshops. Provision of facilities for symposia, workshops and exhibition of research findings.
Impact Project partner on the related AHRC award. This partnership continues to facilitate the engagement of research activities with the local east Belfast community and as such will further contribute to the related follow-on-funding application that has been noted.
Start Year 2011
 
Description EBP 
Organisation East Belfast Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Transference of skills: bringing qualitative research methods and data to a community development partnership. Introducing the partner to a range of researchers and research disciplines.
Collaborator Contribution Helping translate research methods to local application within the community during research fieldwork. Dissemination of research findings to local community. Facilitating the involvement of a crucial range of government and community stakeholders in research activities.
Impact Project partner in this related AHRC award. A transferable 'stakeholder engagement workshop' format has been developed. This workshop can be used where a specific built environment is to be investigated by a range of expert and non-expert stakeholders. The workshop investigates what local residents have to say about the conditions, experiences, problems and changes of their neighbourhoods. These workshops provide a unique opportunity to reveal what communities have to say about the architecture therein; its conditions, experiences, problems and changes. The workshops are multi-disciplinary, utilising data generated from collaboration between architectural and photographic research, and the facilitation expertise of community partners. This collaboration continues as part of the research team for the related follow-on funding application AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2011
 
Description EBP 
Organisation East Belfast Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Transference of skills: bringing qualitative research methods and data to a community development partnership. Introducing the partner to a range of researchers and research disciplines.
Collaborator Contribution Helping translate research methods to local application within the community during research fieldwork. Dissemination of research findings to local community. Facilitating the involvement of a crucial range of government and community stakeholders in research activities.
Impact Project partner in this related AHRC award. A transferable 'stakeholder engagement workshop' format has been developed. This workshop can be used where a specific built environment is to be investigated by a range of expert and non-expert stakeholders. The workshop investigates what local residents have to say about the conditions, experiences, problems and changes of their neighbourhoods. These workshops provide a unique opportunity to reveal what communities have to say about the architecture therein; its conditions, experiences, problems and changes. The workshops are multi-disciplinary, utilising data generated from collaboration between architectural and photographic research, and the facilitation expertise of community partners. This collaboration continues as part of the research team for the related follow-on funding application AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2011
 
Description GSP 
Organisation Greater Shankill Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Facilitating engagement between this agency and the wider academic research environment. Sharing of research methods and data. Transfer of expertise in qualitative research workshops with stakeholders.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitation of research workshops with a range of stakeholders. Recruiting local community groups to research activities. Disseminating research findings to local communities groups and related organisations.
Impact Project Partner on follow-on project AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Kingston Steven Spier 
Organisation Kingston University London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods. Facilitating engagement with government project partners and the wider cross-disciplinary research team.
Collaborator Contribution Helping to network the emerging researchers on the research team with established academics and academic networks. Organising and chairing research symposia. Mentor to the emerging researchers on the research team.
Impact Project Partner on follow-on project AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2012
 
Description LSE 
Organisation London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Sharing of research expertise in the architecture and photography disciplines. Introduction to a specific, emerging research context. Introduction to government department project partners.
Collaborator Contribution Sharing of research expertise in the discipline of social policy.
Impact Co-Investigators and Project Partners on follow-on project AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2013
 
Description NBP 
Organisation North Belfast Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Facilitating engagement between this agency and the wider academic research environment. Sharing of research methods and data. Transfer of expertise in qualitative research workshops with stakeholders.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitation of research workshops with a range of stakeholders. Recruiting local community groups to research activities. Disseminating research findings to local communities groups and related organisations.
Impact Project Partner on follow-on project AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2013
 
Description NIHE 
Organisation Government of Northern Ireland
Department Northern Ireland Housing Executive
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods and data. Facilitating engagement between this department, local community representatives, and the research environment.
Collaborator Contribution Sharing of historical information; answering questions and providing information to assist with research data collection. Attendance at research discussion symposia, workshops and participation in research interviews. Recruitment of interview subjects to the research project.
Impact Project partner in this related AHRC award. This partnership continues to facilitate the provision of information to support ongoing research in this area; in particular, this department will be involved in policy symposia and related departmental working papers that are a core outcome of a related follow-on-funding application.
Start Year 2011
 
Description OFMdFM 
Organisation Government of Northern Ireland
Department Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMdFM)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods and data. Facilitating engagement between this department, local community representatives, and the research environment. Highlight policy gaps addressed by the follow-on research project.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitating policy review and related research symposia. Liaising with other government departments with an interest in the emerging research outcomes.
Impact Project Partner on follow-on project AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Planning Service NI 
Organisation Planning Service of Northern Ireland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods and data.
Collaborator Contribution Attendance at research discussion symposia, workshops and participation in research interviews.
Impact Project partner on the related AHRC award.
Start Year 2011
 
Description SBP 
Organisation South Belfast Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Facilitating engagement between this agency and the wider academic research environment. Sharing of research methods and data. Transfer of expertise in qualitative research workshops with stakeholders.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitation of research workshops with a range of stakeholders. Recruiting local community groups to research activities. Disseminating research findings to local communities groups and related organisations.
Impact Project Partner on follow-on project AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2013
 
Description SIB 
Organisation Strategic Investment Board
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods and data. Facilitating engagement between this department, local community representatives, and the research environment.
Collaborator Contribution Sharing of historical information; answering questions and providing information to assist with research data collection. Attendance at research discussion symposia, workshops and participation in research interviews.
Impact Project partner in this related AHRC award. This collaboration will enable further qualitative interviews to be held as part of the follow-on funding application.
Start Year 2011
 
Description UC Irvine: S Bollens 
Organisation University of California, Irvine
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Sharing of research methods. Facilitating engagement with government project partners and the wider cross-disciplinary research team.
Collaborator Contribution Helping to network the research team with established international academics and academic networks. Speciality Advisor to research symposia and emerging research processes and findings.
Impact Project Partner on follow-on project AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2012
 
Description WBP 
Organisation West Belfast Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Facilitating engagement between this agency and the wider academic research environment. Sharing of research methods and data. Transfer of expertise in qualitative research workshops with stakeholders.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitation of research workshops with a range of stakeholders. Recruiting local community groups to research activities. Disseminating research findings to local communities groups and related organisations.
Impact Project Partner on follow-on project AH/M001342/1.
Start Year 2013
 
Description AA Research Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The developed research findings were then brought to a cross-disciplinary peer-review panel drawn from a national academic membership (architecture and photography) at the Architectural Association in London in January 2013. This workshop had three distinct sessions: review of initial findings; review of collaborative methodology; pathways for further research.

This symposium had two notable impacts:
Clarification of follow-on research objectives and methods;
Development of an advisory panel to the research team (to be continued within follow-on funded project AH/M001342/1.)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Door-To-Door in Inner-East 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This activity involved a door-to-door canvas of the research context carried out between June-August 2012. The research team canvassed residents 'on the doorstep' to share emerging research findings and promote upcoming engagement activities, in particular the Research Information Session & Exhibition in October 2012. A proforma captured data from residents for use in the forthcoming Stakeholder Engagement Workshop.

Resident turn out and participation at the Research Information Session & Exhibition in October 2012.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2012
 
Description Engagement Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The workshop promoted a wide inter-disciplinary discussion between locally elected political representatives, policy-makers, community organisations and local residents. The workshop also prompted many requests for further information.

The workshop provided further data for the research team to use in 1: their evaluation of emerging research findings; 2: their evaluation of the engagement workshop activity itself.

The workshop also highlighted the challenges inherent in translating and communicating complex, often emotive, research findings to a diverse audience.

Crucially, this evaluation helped inform related stakeholder engagement workshop that is core to the follow-on funded project AH/M001342/1.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Skainofest 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Information Session & Exhibition was held in October 2012. The primary purpose was to share emerging research findings and thereby promote awareness of the upcoming stakeholder engagement workshop. Photographic works produced during the fieldwork investigation were exhibited.

This event enabled the registering of interest of a range of local residents and organised community representatives who then attended a follow-up stakeholder engagement workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012