Hidden Barriers and Divisive Architecure: The Case of Belfast

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper reveals significant findings from a three-year multidisciplinary Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project investigating the ways in which social-housing design in 'Troubles-era' Belfast was utilised by policymakers (in undisclosed ways) to keep communities separated in order to facilitate long-term security planning. Quite distinct from the highly recognised ‘peace walls’, this talk reveals a series of 'hidden barriers' emerging from this process which continue to promote division in what might now be called the ‘post-Troubles’ era. These 'hidden barriers' take the form of everyday elements of the built environment, where footpaths, roads, offices, shops and industrial buildings are used to deliberately and permanently separate residential areas. The paper focuses on the importance of addressing these ‘hidden barriers’ in order to support the wider peace-building objectives of the Northern Ireland Executive’s 'Together: Building a United Community Strategy'. It outlines how intensive engagement with community partners and policy-makers now offers the opportunity for the establishment of a 10 year ‘connectivity programme’ where locally-led and creative design-based solutions can be used establish new physical connections between these areas and help build community cohesion.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2018
EventBuild Peace: Re-imagining Prosperity: Alternative Economies for Peace - Ulster University, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Oct 201831 May 2019


ConferenceBuild Peace
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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