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MArch 2016-17 

Making Belfast - M.Arch Unit - Architecture at Queen's

Our studio will look at the built fabric of Belfast and what makes it work. Belfast, like all cities, is made of blocks and plots. The shapes, proportions, materials and rhythms of blocks and plots reflect the economies that make the city. But what actually shapes Belfast? Do plots and blocks reflect or actively shape the economy Belfast? How does this affect the way people live and use Belfast? These questions will be addressed by exploring the built fabric of Belfast through a corridor that connects Belfast city centre with Queen’s Quarter. Bedford Street, Dublin Road and Botanic Avenue create a corridor that offers a diverse and adaptable fabric with a large range of scales and uses. The potential of this corridor is large, providing spaces for intervention in the built fabric and the urban design of the public realm. Working, living and playing should be part of the everyday life of the city, and the built fabric should provide these spaces.  Solid and adaptable architecture encourages a range of different activities in and around buildings, while allowing change to happen. Constant demolition and rebuilding cannot be the only way of coping with the changing city, and cannot be sustained. We have to find a compromise between the existing city and the planned one. The recently devolved planning powers of the Belfast City Council provide an opportunity for us as citizens and architects to have a much greater impact in the city’s built environment. Our studio will investigate the Belfast corridor, by confronting it with similar scenarios abroad, focusing our interest in Glasgow, which we will visit, as a highly comparable example. Throughout the year we will investigate the potential of the corridor through the design of a strategy and specific buildings that address the needs of the area, while exploring building technologies and their representation in a large array of techniques. Our studio will actively link research and practice thorough the role of Theo Dales as tutor and Riccardo Marini as our consultant.

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