The streets that were there are gone… but Sailortown’s stories remain
Agustina Martire and Aisling Madden
The demolition of Sailortown in the 1970s erased the neighbourhood’s everyday streets – displacing over 1,000 families and 300 businesses – to make way for the Belfast Urban Motorway. Despite this displacement, the scattered Sailortown community remains resilient, with a sustained sense of belonging to the place. Aware of the class-driven segregation of Belfast, this chapter contrasts the view of this motorway as ‘progress’ with the loss of the complex everyday experiences of Sailortown. By making people’s stories visible, this chapter presents a methodology that enables a nuanced, thorough and people-focused understanding of the complexity of everyday streets. It shows the degree to which people’s stories are connected to the past urban grain and street fabric. We argue that a proper understanding of the complexity of these stories could prevent such large-scale planning mistakes from occurring in the future.
About Agustnia Martire
Agustina Martire is Senior Lecturer in Architecture at Queen’s University Belfast. She specialises in the study of everyday streets and their fabric, histories and experiences. She is especially interested in the way people experience the built environment, and how design can enable a more inclusive and just urban space. She has worked in schools of architecture in Buenos Aires, Delft, Dublin and Belfast and collaborates with a range of government and non-government organisations.
About Aisling Madden
Aisling Madden gained her Masters of Architecture from Queen’s University Belfast in 2020. During her two years of study, Aisling was in the StreetSpace studio with Dr Agustina Martire and Pat Wheeler, developing ethnographic methods to analyse the historical urban fabric of Belfast. Aisling now works in Studio Idir.