I never could have imagined how much I’d learn from Belfast, Ireland. Having only been here for three years, studying my undergraduate in architecture, Belfast has opened so much to me. Being able to report on what matters to the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland has shown how the public, not just professionals, play a pivotal role in the built environment. Collaboratively, the public and professionals have shaped Belfast into a diverse and interesting city to study, as well as live.
Belfast City Hall
My articles at The Grid allowed me to keep up-to-date with architectural news as well as urban issues in Belfast. Even taking the photographs for the articles initiated many discussions with the public. Some of these people were amazing characters whose impression will always stay with me as I progress my architectural education.
The blog that I found most interesting was the Missing Core: Architectural Education in Northern Ireland. This blog reports on how, within Northern Ireland, as well as the rest of the UK, there seems to be this separation of the built environment disciplines. In Belfast the separation is attempting to be reconnected by educational bodies, for instance PLACE NI (Planning /Landscape /Architecture /Community /Environment). This once again emphasizes the importance of the non-professional institutions that contribute greatly to our cities.
Looking back at the topics I have written about, I am surprised to see such an array of subjects. The historical preservation of Belfast was the most discussed with readers. Including blogs such as; Can architecture resolve conflict?: The legacy of the Peace Walls; It's history, but not preserved: The demolition of the University of Ulster; Northern Ireland considering demolition of historically significant and listed buildings; and The covered river that gave Belfast its name.
Being able to write about these issues and ongoing projects within the city has been a rewarding experience. With what I’ve learned from The Grid, I hope to write my own blog and continue a dialog about the built environment in Belfast or wherever I might be. A subject area that I have found interesting because of The Grid is the educational side of architecture. Especially the relationship between professional bodies and schools, and the impact one has upon the other, for instance RIBA and ARB restructuring the architectural education in the UK.
I would highly recommend writing for The Grid. If you have any interest in the built environment, then the articles you write will become a catalyst for ideas that will lead you to think in different ways about what surrounds you. I am grateful to the amazing team at The Grid, and the opportunity to write from a Belfast perspective. Thank you.
Credits: Images by James Foskett. Data linked to sources.