Lena Junger (2018)

 

CONTESTED. PUBLIC. SHARED. Peacelines and Public Space in Belfast.

     
Abstract  

The thesis revolves around the Peacelines in Belfast, which were put up to separate Protestant from Catholic neighbourhoods. The walls were constructed due to the outbursts of violence. The main locations were the working class districts in North and West Belfast. The first wall was put up in 1969, but still to this day the city is divided. This is the context where the thesis starts out to look at borders in cities. Following two research questions are the centre of the research: How are the effects of Peacelines and borders in Belfast reflected in public space? How does the implementation of shared spaces help to address the issues of Peacelines? The first question looks at the three main aspects that are connected to the Peacelines and the way they impact the public space. These aspects are territory, connectivity and safety. The second question is focused on two projects (Alexandra Park, Peas Park) of shared public spaces. It is about the importance of public space in overcoming borders.

 

The main research was conducted during a four month stay in Belfast. In addition to literature research, I spent the beginning of my stay getting to know the city through observatory walks, which indirectly influenced the thesis. The empirical part is mainly based on expert interviews with people from the academic world and narrative interviews with community workers and residents involved in shared space projects. Furthermore, participatory observations were used as an additional input for the thesis. 

 

The research has shown that there is much more to consider than only the physical appearance of the Peacelines. They were built to protect the communities and still to this day they represent safety for a lot of residents. At the same time they enhance the territoriality of public space in Belfast and create a disconnected city. Public space can be used as a tool against Peacelines. Creating spaces that enhance interaction between the communities can create connections, while leaving the discussion about territory behind. Instead of a tool for representing power, public space can be used to move the city towards a shared future.

     
Submitted   at the Faculty of Architecture and Planning
Supervision   Assoc. Prof. Dr. phil. DI (FH) Sabine Knierbein