The Spatial legacy of Conflict

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The Spatial legacy of Conflict:The material impact of The Troubles on the streets of inner-city East Belfast, 1969 – 1994.The Troubles is a term used to describe the social-historical phenomenon occurring between 1969 and 1994 when the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland was at its most extreme. Its influence was such that it has had profound impact on the social, political, economic, cultural and spatial structures of Northern Ireland ever since. In such a context cultural and political forces can become plainly manifest through architecture and the built environment and the subsequent reaction by government, security and statutory authorities resulted in a substantial material impact within inner-city communities creating spatial fragmentation and disconnection. This paper illuminates a specific, discrete and barely recognised aspect of this material legacy, now embedded in the public realm: architectural artefacts throughout inner-city Belfast that mitigate against vehicular flow and pedestrian movement, dividing streets and disrupting connections spatially. These interventions are not the widely recognised ‘peace walls’ between communities, rather, they are the legacy of interventions employed within individual communities as a security reaction against the free movement of persons within an area once prevalent with paramilitary activity. Using the exemplar of ‘Ballymacarrett’, East Belfast, this paper outlines new research conducted through a UK Arts & Humanities Research Council funded project led by the author. The paper documents the contemporary material impact of these artefacts and the associated historical narrative utilising methodologies based in architectural practice. A spatial analysis of the material impact of these artefacts is presented and the paper discusses evidence gathered from key government and community stakeholders brought together uniquely through this research to document the historical narrative linking the contemporary public realm artefacts to the historical spatial interventions undertaken by security agencies during The Troubles. The paper concludes by outlining the government-community stakeholder working group that has emerged from the research to pursue policy change relating to these artefacts.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages50
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2012
EventThird International Conference On Urban and Extraurban Studies: Space & Flows - Wayne State University, Detroit, USA.
Duration: 12 Oct 2012 → …


ConferenceThird International Conference On Urban and Extraurban Studies: Space & Flows
Period12/10/12 → …


  • Conflict
  • Urban Design
  • Contested Cities
  • Belfast
  • The Troubles
  • Architecture


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