Hidden City: The Architecture of Conflict

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


The Troubles conflict has profoundly impacted the social, political and economic structures of Northern Ireland. Less recognised, is the architectural legacy that this conflict has left behind. The ‘peace-walls’ constructed between Roman Catholic and Protestant communities in a number of Northern Ireland’s most contentious residential areas are recognised internationally as the preeminent symbol of lingering post-conflict tumult in Northern Ireland. This talk reveals how these artefacts are but one visibility of a range of conflict-related architectural interventions occurring throughout the 1969 – 1994 period of the Troubles. Whilst post-conflict policy in Northern Ireland is focused on the removal of all of Northern Irelands ‘peace walls’ by 2023, the convoluted and extensive arrangement of housing estates within which they are found are also an architectural product of the Troubles-era. Created during an extensive programme of inner-city Comprehensive Redevelopment between 1976 and 1985, and typified by circuitous cul-de-sacs, residential courtyards and dead-end streets, these new designs responded to a complex and ambiguous mix of design considerations. The architecture that was ultimately created through the Comprehensive Redevelopment programme has had the lasting effect of eliminating through-traffic from inner-city neighbourhoods, establishing the priority of pedestrians over vehicles in residential spaces, and inspiring an overarching sensibility promoting the privacy, safety and security of residents.
Period15 Nov 2018
Held atUlster Museum
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Architecture
  • Conflict
  • The Troubles
  • Belfast
  • Security
  • peace walls