re-place: The Titanic rebranding of architecture and space, Culture of Cities International Conference

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This paper presents research into the architectural branding of space, demonstrated through the case study of east Belfast, Northern Ireland, and its historic and cultural associations with the great ship Titanic. Reportedly second only to Coca-Cola in global recognition, brand-Titanic has been embraced by community, corporate and public interests as a means of redefining the urban built environment of Belfast. The expanse of architectural expression now borne of the Titanic brand positions this case study as a portent example of how diverse dynamics within a city articulate cultural expression to define and redefine place. However, this paper hypothesises that the supremacy of the Titanic brand has served to obscure the authentic condition of culture and space within the east Belfast community, resulting in what is termed here as a process of re-place, where cultural narratives are rewritten in alternative architectural expressions. Through observations, fieldwork, interviews and spatial analysis, this paper illustrates three interrelated dimensions of this context. The first focuses on the community streets of east Belfast that once housed thousands of shipyard workers and which reside now in a social, physical, economic and environmental deprivation. However a variety of community initiated initiatives rebrand space by embracing the Titanic memory. The second context concerns the former shipyard itself. Here, the Titanic Quarter urban regeneration scheme presents an alternative and audacious private-sector image of a globally attractive, post-conflict Belfast. This hyper-real employment of Titanic related architecture has been rapturously supported by policy makers and politicians, yet it re-places authentic history and contextual specificity with theme-park superficiality. The paper concludes by presenting findings that illustrate an almost subliminal acceptance of the eradication of the cultural history of place within Belfast, thus supporting the notion of re-place as the redefinition of architecture and space through a considered and deliberate process of architectural branding.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 15 Aug 2013
EventCulture of Cities International Conference - Centre for Social Innovation, New York, USA
Duration: 15 Aug 2013 → …


ConferenceCulture of Cities International Conference
Period15/08/13 → …


  • Belfast
  • Titanic
  • Branding
  • Neoliberal
  • Regeneration
  • Post-Conflict


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