The conflict in and about Northern Ireland (often referred to as ‘the Troubles’) has profoundly impacted the social, political and economic structures of Northern Ireland. Less recognised, is the wider architectural legacy that the conflict has left behind. In this respect, the peace walls and associated residential interfaces constructed between largely Catholic and Protestant communities in a number of Northern Ireland’s most contentious residential areas, have become the preeminent representation of this architectural legacy. This research presents original findings from a threeyear multi-disciplinary academic research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) that challenges and extends this current understanding of physical and social division. In doing so the research reveals new evidence of a distinct and important, yet largely unrecognised, body of divisive conflict-era architecture. This architecture is an extensive range of ‘hidden barriers’ embedded in various forms across Belfast’s residential communities created during a little-known process of security planning that accompanied the Comprehensive Redevelopment of inner-city Belfast between 1976 and 1985. Quite distinct from the recognised peace walls and associated interfaces, these ‘hidden barriers’ take the form of everyday elements of the built environment. They vary in both type and scale, and include the use of infrastructure such as footpaths and roads, as well as the use of retail, office and industrial buildings, to control vehicular and pedestrian movement and to physically separate residential areas. This research has focused on six distinctive case-study areas where these ‘hidden barriers’ have been documented and where evidence of their contemporary effects has been gathered. Residing now as deeply embedded and normalised parts of the contemporary city, this seemingly benign ‘everyday architecture’ functions as a ‘hidden’ legacy of the conflict. The research findings therefore raise important questions about what it means in a so-called ‘post-Troubles’ era for communities to live within areas where the built environment has been designed to deal with ‘Troubles-era’ security issues.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jun 2018
EventNorthern Ireland Assembly : Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS) - Stormont
Duration: 1 Feb 2014 → …


OtherNorthern Ireland Assembly : Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS)
Period1/02/14 → …


  • peace walls
  • Belfast
  • barriers
  • architecture
  • planning
  • Housing
  • conflict
  • Conflict architecture


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