Reflections on Titanic Quarter:The cultural and material legacy of a historic Belfast brand.

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Abstract

This paper provides an architectural reflection on Titanic Quarter, a docklands urban regeneration scheme located in the east of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Situated within Queen’s Island, historic home of Belfast’s shipbuilding industry and birthplace of the ship, ‘Titanic’, this development utilises and exploits cultural associations with the titular ship, reflected in its iconographical employment of architecture and space. Notwithstanding its status as the endeavour of private enterprise, the Titanic Quarter has been wholeheartedly embraced by urban policy makers as a catalyst for the regeneration of an adjacent and deprived innercity
ward known as the Inner-East. This convergence of neo-liberal enterprise and public policy aspirations around the architectural iconography of the Titanic brand benchmarks Titanic Quarter as an important illustration of the current regeneration discourse in post-conflict Belfast. The essay investigates the capacity of Titanic Quarter to deliver inner-city regeneration. The discussion is constructed around three interrelated arguments: the particularly pragmatic neo-liberal regeneration model itself; the cultural positioning of Titanic Quarter; and the architectural programme of the development. The paper concludes by reflecting on the regeneration implications for both Titanic Quarter and the Inner-East of Belfast. It highlights the view that Titanic Quarter is ultimately responsive to commercial enterprise and reliant on iconographical associations to define space. Such characteristics significantly challenge its capacity to facilitate renewal in the Inner-East.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-363
JournalThe Journal of Architecture
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2013

Keywords

  • Belfast
  • Neoliberal
  • Urban Regeneration
  • Architecture

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