Communities as constructs of People and Architecture

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

Abstract

This project assesses the architectural legacy of The Troubles, the social-historical phenomenon between 1969 and 1994 when the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland was at its most extreme. The influence of The Troubles was such that it has had a profound impact on the social, political, economic, cultural and spatial structures of Northern Ireland. There are many visible architectural remnants of the Troubles in contemporary Belfast, most notably the 'peace-walls' between a number of Protestant and Roman Catholic residential communities. Quite distinct from this recognised architectural legacy, this research encapsulates a specific, discrete and barely recognised aspect of the cultural structures of The Troubles: a range of distinct and divisive architecture within individual communities in Belfast, now embedded in the contemporary urban fabric. As Northern Ireland moves forward in a post-Troubles era, a plethora of housing, roads, landscaping and related artefacts continue to divide and spatially fragment communities.

The research conceives of a 'community' as a construct of 'People and Architecture', an intrinsic inter-relationship between people and their built environment. Community, housing, and security in Belfast are intricately linked. During The Troubles 70% of bombings were aimed at housing in the 'Belfast Urban Area'. The residential inner-city was subject to fundamental architectural alterations by both civilian and security authorities. These interventions resulted in a profound material impact upon inner-city communities, creating architectural and spatial disconnection that has promoted deprivation and disenfranchisement within these communities. These areas that are at now at the focus of the 'Together: Building a United Community Strategy, the core policy framework for post-conflict Northern Ireland, which emphasises the role communities will have to play in shaping their own future. Whilst there has been much work in the areas of planning policy, sociology and human geography concerning The Troubles, there is a distinct lack of architectural research in this area, particularly concerning architectural design and the relationship to communities during conflict. This study addresses this gap in knowledge, and equip local communities and policy makers with a crucial knowledge-base that is pertinent to contemporary policy formulation.

The overarching aim of this research is to effect material change in the community life of some of Belfast's most deprived urban areas. The research conceives of a city-wide study that will examine the architectural legacy of The Troubles and engage local communities with these findings in order to inclusively inform related policy formulation. This suggests four questions: What do these architectural artefacts look like? What do communities have to say about this architecture? How can this research inform the related and relevant policy discussions? What are the lessons for other communities, at both national and international level? These questions formulate the following objectives: to engage this area of arts & humanities research with community and policy stakeholders; to foster community empowerment through structured, active inclusion with policy makers; to illuminate and illustrate the urban impact of conflict in Belfast's communities; and, to develop a transferable method to engage local communities as active-researchers of their built environment. A 'community' as a construct of 'People and Architecture' involves a complex inter-relationship between community, design practice and policy ambition. A cross-disciplinary research team addresses this research context. Academics from architecture, photography, social policy, planning policy and conflict studies are working with community project partners and government agencies. This team have developed a co-designed, collaborative methodology with embedded pathways to community, policy, public and academic impact.

Planned Impact

This research will be of benefit to:
- Academic beneficiaries in the areas of architecture, photography, social policy, planning, post-conflict transformation and community engagement. The research will make an important cultural contribution to an unknown aspect of history. The architectural artefacts of The Troubles are of great cultural and historical significance. Publication through academic journals as the research progresses, and through a 'Steidl' book publication after completion of the research contribute to public dissemination. There will be knowledge gained concerning the urban legacy of conflict that will be relevant to an international context of contested states, such as Palestine, Kosovo, Sarajevo and Johannesburg. This research takes an innovative cross-disciplinary approach and the knowledge generated by the research will extend and enhance the extensive existing knowledgebase in planning policy, sociology and human geography. This methodology provides an additional perspective to this arts and humanities research context and will be of benefit to other arts and humanities researchers interested in how practice-informed methodologies generate data and can engage with communities. Moreover, the community engagement initiatives, relationship to policy frameworks and social policy dimensions of the research, will also be of interest to researches concerned with community studies.

- Government project partners provide a direct link to policy impact. The Office for First Minister and Deputy First Minister and The Department of Justice are responsible for the 'Together: Building a United Community Strategy', the key policy ambition related to this research. This research 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 aforementioned strategy and involve a range of government departments. Project partner OFMdFM will facilitate dissemination of the research findings to the related departmental agencies as the research progresses. Two Policy Symposia provide a structured forum ensuring emerging research findings are critically considered in relation to policy objectives. Moreover, in 2015 local planning powers for Belfast will fall under the remit of Project Partner Belfast City Council. Through a series of structured Briefing Sessions, Belfast City Council and the range of related council agencies who will be responsible for the development of local community plans, will be engaged with the research findings.

- Five 'social partnerships' mandated to innovate, and implement, regeneration initiatives with government agencies and communities in Belfast (the 'East Belfast', 'North Belfast', 'South Belfast', 'West Belfast' and 'Greater Shankill') will gain skills, expertise and research informed evidence through the Urban Spaceshaper workshops and reports. The engagement with local community groups offers the potential to enhance the creative output capacity within these disenfranchised communities. Moreover, these workshops directly involve residents and representatives from government agencies responsible for the built environment. This mechanism ensures that community issues relevant to well-being, safety and security, are highlighted to the related government agencies. The involvement of central government project partners (OFMdFM, DoJ) and local government project partner Belfast City Council helps embed impact potential to these key agencies responsible for policy formulation and implementation.

- Other community groups and organisations interested in engaging residents in active-research activities with their related built-environment will be able to benefit from the transferrable Urban Spaceshaper Workshop developed in association with the Landscape Institute. This can be used to provide research-informed evidence to influence policy discussions.
 
Description This funding has supported research into recently declassified UK Government grey documents and subsequent fieldwork in Belfast investigating the use of architecture by the UK Government in the implementation of security policy during the 'Troubles', the period between 1969 and 1994 when the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland was at its most extreme.

The research provides new insights into the range of architectural processes and practices that were incorporated into security policy and into the geographical scope of these interventions. The research evidenced the implementation of what we have termed as 'Hidden Barriers', a body of divisive architecture created during a confidential process of security planning between 1976 and 1985 that permanently separated Catholic and Protestant communities in particularly contentious areas. Quite distinct from the recognised peace walls and associated interfaces, these 'hidden barriers' take the form of everyday elements of the built environment.

The evidence suggests three typologies of 'hidden barriers' which act at different scales and in different ways to promote division. At the first level, there are Inter-Community Barriers. These are instances of the built environment being used on a larger scale to separate two communities that were formerly connected, effectively isolating them as single-identity areas. At the second level, Intra-Community Barriers are instances where residential areas formerly consisting of interconnected streets of terraced housing have been redeveloped with disconnected housing clusters where vehicular and pedestrian permeability is greatly restricted. The third level of 'hidden barriers' are Invisible Boundaries. These barriers are elements of public space on the periphery of Inter-Community Barrier areas that are identified locally as a recognised 'boundary' between the two communities that has evolved at a local level and become entrenched over time.

The research has demonstrated that there are significant gaps in Northern Ireland's conflict-transformation policy, the Together: Building a United Community Strategy. Whilst this document recognises the security heritage of Northern Ireland's widely recognised 'peace-walls' and the role that they play in promoting community division by specifically targeting them for removal by 2023. Current conflict-transformation policy does not address the 'Hidden Barriers' evidenced in the research and their continued role in promoting social and physical division.
Exploitation Route This research is informing current policy development in the areas of urban regeneration and conflict-transformation. This process is however being hindered by the ongoing absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive government.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Security and Diplomacy

URL http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/globalassets/documents/raise/knowledge_exchange/briefing_papers/series7/coyles200618.pdf
 
Description A number of project impact seminars, spanning policy, industry, academia and community, are taking place in 2018, helping to build pathways to social, economic and environmental impact. ? Policy impact symposia with government 'project-partners' Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister, Department of Justice and Belfast City Council ? 'Together: Building a United Community Strategy' policy briefings in a symposium designed by David Coyles and programmed in the 2017/18 KESS Seminar Series at Stormont (20th June 2018) ? International policy impact symposia series: Basque County (Univ. of the Basque Country, 05/18), Netherlands (Wageningen University & Research Centre, 06/18) UK (London School of Economics, 09/18).
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services

 
Description Advisor (architecture) to the Irish Secretariat on the implementation of Stormont House Agreement (2016 -)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 2019 Imagine Belfast Festival 'Hidden Barriers' showcase 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 55 members of the general public attended a policy discussion and workshop that explored how the findings of the research could be applied to a series of contemporary locations in Belfast. The event took place as part of the 2019 Imagine Belfast festival, and as a consequence, attracted a full capacity international audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Policy Symposium on Conflict Architecture, University of the Basque Country 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Symposium that examined the policy implications emerging from the findings of 'Communities as Constructs of People and Architecture' in the context of the Basque conflict. The symposium discussions explored overlaps and gaps in comparison between these two contexts. A new research collaboration has been established through this event and is currently working on the development of a funding proposal for submission to the ESRC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Policy Workshop - Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade with the Irish Secretariat 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This workshop was chaired by the Irish Government and addressed the formation of the 'Implementation and Reconciliation Group' (IRG) as set out in the Stormont House Agreement between the British and Irish governments. The workshop drew together a wide range of inter and multi-disciplinary researchers who sit at the nexus of peace and conflict from backgrounds such as geography, mental health, culture and minority issues, social policy, architecture, history and law. The researchers involved primarily focus on forward-facing elements of societal transition and are also concerned with the enduring harms in a society emerging from violence.

This mix of academic interests generated a lively and thoughtful discussion on key strands of the IRG but chiefly focused on: Practical implementation of the research element of the IRG surrounding themes and patterns; Academic independence; How to give expression to academic research on themes and patterns

It was agreed, at the conclusion of the event, that there are three useful things to be contributed at this stage: i) Principles that guide the practical implementation of the research
element of the IRG surrounding themes and patterns; ii) How to guarantee academic independence; iii) Examples/models of good practice: calls, application forms,
beneficiaries.

Key discussion points are outlined below:

1. The practical implementation of the IRG

At the outset, the researchers gathered adopted a focus on a number of key principles of the IRG:

Key principles

? Research as a two-way process
o It should utilise a process of co-production (with research end-users and stakeholders) as well as subscribing to professional ethical guidelines.
o Reaching beyond the academic research environment is central tenet of research themes and patterns: public engagement should go beyond that of consultation or as research subjects/participants. A useful principle is that of 'Co-production' of the research, which begins with the setting of research questions and the design of the projects.
o Co-production can be thought of as giving cultural confidence to imagined communities, encouraging genuinely transformative and critically self-reflexive dialogue across politically antagonistic groups, implies a public sphere where representation goes beyond a purely legalistic one, where it is thickened up to the point that communities have the creative and cultural capacity to articulate for themselves the violence suffered, exclusions felt, and their consequences
o Cognitive Diversity is an approach that could underpin much of the work


? Research should include various disciplines
o Not only should it include different disciplines but also involve multi- institutional teams of researchers
o NB such approaches are common and standard within UK Research
Councils and professional associations.


? Public engagement
o In the current environment, ways of engaging with the public and conducting research are necessarily responsive, innovative and often technology-based.
o Media should be more than reporting mechanism; could be used to generate public engagement.


? Flexibility of timing
o It was noted that this will be largely dependent upon the reporting of other bodies.

IRG could have an Advisory Group
- Constituted of experts from different disciplines and professional bodies who would not be responding to the various research calls themselves.
- People of high standing in international research councils would make sense.
- [Another way of doing it could be that the IRG uses the research councils directly to commission research or issue a call - it could be a joint Economic and Social Research Council/Arts and Humanities Research Council/Irish Research Council

reinvent the wheel?]
- UK and Irish Research Councils have similar models of Advisory Groups that could be a model.

How to commission research?
- Research Council model
o Broad themes are set to which academics respond
o Need to avoid over-bureaucratised system that focuses on wrong things
§ Nature of the application procedures should reflect desired outcome from the research, e.g. 'impact', 'rigour', 'originality',
'significance', 'cost-effectiveness'
o Means experts come up with innovative ways of conducting research o Helps expand source of material and raise the quality of applications o Peer review of applications could be adapted as a model.

Research data
- Can enable participant voices and views to come to the fore as well as securing originality or freshness
- Would a useful legacy of the IRG research be the creation of different types of archive? Could this be connected to public art/ education/ information/ museums/ documentaries etc? There is potential synergy and complementarity between the different outputs of Oral Histories Archive, IRG and HTG.
- Research data could be produced in different types of dissemination activities with different publics in mind.
- There are principles worth exploring in research councils, where primary data is made readily available to other researchers


Embed regular reporting and review of the academic research
- Monitoring and Review every six to twelve months
- (Research Fish- model of accountability, transparency and reporting of research)
- So that there is critical questioning of the research and it can maintain freshness and relevance by changing in response to emerging issues or themes
- Would also enable review of incoming material from other parts of the architecture

Due care for psychological consequences of research topics
- Careful balance between story-sharing and 'unburdening'
- No plan to unintentionally unseat the coping mechanisms that people have developed
- Methodologies of co-production or self-expression could be included in research element
- Need to offer something that people can connect back into the present and future development of society in Northern Ireland
- If people need further support it should be as easy as possible to get this
- What are the effects of a 'large discussion' in the public arena, with unknowable effects on individuals carrying trauma from the conflict?

NUJ and the like are applicable here)
- How can we protect those who don't want to directly engage from being retraumatised?
- These are matters that the IRG Advisory Group could seek specialised advice on and could set principles and governance mechanisms in place that commissioned research must subscribe to

Interdisciplinarity
- Disciplines to include: broad, across sciences and humanities (e.g. could cover built environment, mental health, social issues). There is a precedent for this in the research councils.
- One issue is that interdisciplinary research does not create research that is necessarily ground-breaking in any one field but that may illuminate complex issues in fresh ways.

Equality
- Although IRG itself will be constituted of political appointees, nothing to stop enacting and embedding principles of equality (gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation) in the research or Advisory Group. This will be a positive contribution to the principles of reconciliation and integration, and a more accurate reflection of NI society than currently exists through political representation.

Legal ramifications
- IRG will not deal with individual cases but what if people, drawing on information/findings presented through work of academics, consider that they have a basis for legal action.
- This also relates to the kind of access the academics gain.

Other points raised regarding practical potential work of the IRG
- Terms of reference of IRG should define key terms, including 'reconciliation' and
'research', whilst acknowledging that these are not static topics.
- Who is reconciliation between?
- Is the intention to create opportunities for reconciliation and integration?
- How to write-in the engagement of people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, inc. Travellers?
- How to affect institutions, including those that serve to maintain segregation?
o Trying to introduce a culture shift in how the system of sectarianism works
- If setting themes in advance is off the table, how are they to be identified?
o A role here for the Advisory Group?
o In response to Oral History Archive?
- How to thwart the process of transferring memory bias?

2. Academic Independence

A central theme emerged regarding the ownership of research:
- The principle of Academic Freedom is essential to academic independence1
- The IRG may commission research but right of ownership should be retained by academics
- Intellectual property should be addressed at the outset (again typically outlined in contracts with Universities)
- Principle should be ability to make findings accessible to the public free of charge, in a range of ways;
- Need to protect academic freedom, including use of language;
o (Need to consider how to manage this when drawing on previously closed sources)
- Importance of disciplinary skill and rigour of methodology
- The multidisciplinary teams should not be too dogmatically determined in advance, and can flow from best practice from within the research teams proposing projects.
- In terms of maintaining academic independence, it would be worth using the language of REF, defining research as original, significant and rigorous and, most
importantly, underpinned by peer-review.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Research network seminar, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Follow-up research seminar with academics and practitioners focused on the overlaps between regeneration policy in the context of Northern Ireland's conflict, and the current social and spatial tensions that are emerging around ethnic settlement in major European cities such as Amsterdam and Brussels.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Seminar, lecture and policy workshops at Wageningen University & Research Centre, Netherlands. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Symposium that examined the policy implications emerging from the findings of 'Communities as Constructs of People and Architecture' in the context of pan-European policies relating to urban regeneration. The symposium discussions explored overlaps between the conflict in Northern Ireland and current spatial tensions arising from ethnic settlement in major European cities, such as Amsterdam and Brussels. A new research collaboration has been established through this event and is currently working on the development of a funding proposal for submission to the ESRC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Walking tour and research workshop, Build Peace 2018, Ulster University, Belfast 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Site-based field workshops at 'Communities as Constructs of People and Architecture' case-study locations, with international delegates, examining post-conflict regeneration in Belfast with analogous challenges shared by the delegates from a range of locations spanning the UK, Europe and the Middle East.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018