This year’s year one M Arch studio is located in the Gaeltacht Quarter in West Belfast alongside the arterial route of the Falls Road (that connects the West of the City with the city Centre). The students are working with community partners/actors to regenerate 3 sites alongside the Falls Road. Culture has been a key element of regeneration in Belfast. The sites are different in nature (1) A school site, (2), a car park site with next to a College with a building opposite (3) a business park.

Working in groups to produce Urban Design Strategies and a detailed masterplan for each site (1-3) that also takes into account the whole Strip. While students have to develop their own brief and freedom is encouraged, they also must take into account the existing site context and Street Frontage to the Falls and produce a series of buildings/open spaces that work with the studio themes:

1-cultural regeneration,

2-community led regeneration and

3-peripheral landscape of the Strip.

Much of the landscape of this Strip is made of voids/empty spaces/terrain vagues left as a result of the conflict, and also lack of development. When  looking at the three sites the  urban fabric of the context in these empty spaces and landscapes is an essential component.



Working on the theme of cultural regeneration within the Gaeltacht Quarter, from the perspective of a ‘grass roots up’ or community led approach to regeneration.


This is a sample of the work produced for the Interim Review held on Friday 18th November 2016.

March Blog is finally back with some updates on our current activities and on some of the past events. One of them is final presentation of 2 year students of their URBAN STRATEGIES for the cities of Slupsk and Ustka. Below you will find the pictures and description of some of these projects.


Group [Konstantinos Lerias, Orestis Michelakis, Tatjana Geta]:
The main problems identified in Słupsk were the following: unemployment, derelict housing stock and vacant spaces within urban blocks, urban sprawl, marginalization of poor communities and a high coal dependency for domestic heating. This proposal suggests a sequence of direct actions that will utilise existing resources (material, social and cultural) as well as participatory processes to solve these material and socio-political issues that exist in the area. This strategy does not only aim to solve this issues based on their existing condition but rather to generate the social capital that is necessary to form a resilient community that can resolve and adapt to problems that may arise in the future. Our approach is based on 3 distinctive typologies of spaces: Blocks, Allotments and Spaces of exchange. These typologies are common across not only Słupsk but Poland in general thus making the project easily adaptable to other areas. Fundamental parts of the proposal are: opening secondary routes through urban blocks, creating community infrastructure within the blocks (i.e. community workshops, urban farms, repair and recycle laboratories), gradually redistributing allotment land so it can be used collectively, as well as establishing a network of decentralized biogas plants that will utilise organic waste to distribute heat to the housing through district heating systems. This project does not only aim to resolve existing issues but rather to promote and test alternative models of coexistence, assembly and collective action; for communities to meet, share knowledge and evolve in opposition to the current neoliberal model.

Group  [Kian Tai, Katarzyna Skrucha, Fabienne Blunden, Justina Krol]:
The signs of unequal socio-economic deprivation of the Slupsk has driven us to steer active participants (policy makers & NGOs) and non-active participants (public, the unskilled and the unemployed) to come together in a cohesive environment to build the future resilience of the city. Our mission is to aspire the people to take ownership on the process, creating synergies with different actors with the intention to reduce carbon emission, maintain economic development and address socio-envirionmental consequences.

Group  [Luke Jerome, Adam Willis, Alistair Powe, Zafeiris Katanakis]:
“Over a 20 year period Słupsk and Ustka can integrate Syrian refugees as a catalyst to regenerate the city centre: Regeneration in terms of reformed physical housing stock, political policy, social conditions, infrastructure and education. This over time will help to establish a culture of cooperation and trust between local government and a Refugee/Immigrant/Resident community. Critical to this is an establishment of identity for inhabitants of the City.
The ‘Refugee Matters’ design document has been created to act as guidance for the development of the city; acknowledging the range of scales at which change must occur. As well as this, the design document critically appraises the wider process of urban refugee integration, particularly within the politically charged climates of EU member states.”

Group  [ Mun Ng, Ian Tan, Seing Seeto, Chrysa Petrou]:
This project focuses on strengthening the existing local distinctive elements by changing its economy practice to a cradle to cradle system. The aim to improve the economy practice to a more resilience manner is to reduce the rate of unemployment in Slupsk. Several neighbour cities such as Ustka, Leba, Darlowo and others were considered to collaborate with slupsk to widen it’s economy potential through networking.IMG_8518Group  [Alexander Wightman, Małgosia Werdon, Thomas Whettingsteel, Nikolaos Stagkos]:
The project proposes to solve the issues in both cities through the creation of local interventions in the city of Słupsk that solve social and environmental problems. The sites in Słupsk are fed by a large redevelopment in Ustka using natural resources and waste products form the sea to lead research into environmental building technologies and alternative fuels. The site in Ustka will also have public visitor elements that can lead to a more sustainable form of tourism. Research carried out in the city is implemented in the live test-bed of Słupsk. The creation of more jobs through development of these technologies and their implementation on communities will help address the debt and declining population facing the city.

Project 1 is intended as a warm-up exercise to raise and frame questions about our own attitudes towards the idea of the city and how we represent them. It also enables a collaboration between first and second years Master of Architecture students.

Project 1 has three tasks Project 1A, 1B and 1C.

Project 1A is about identifying one key space in a city that we like and trying to identify the rules, standards, norms and codes that make it work and how these support or inhibit activities. The set of rules are represented through diagrams.

Project 1B is about producing a group model that represents our groups utopian vision of a space drawn from the rules developed in project 1A.

Zorrotzaurre – Bilbao

The intention of this workshop was to get the teams to:

  • Develop their thinking about the site and its needs.
  • Start developing ideas towards the main project, applying what we have learnt so in learning principles and urban design.

Group 1

This group used the workshop to look at several urban issues that were identified on the site, such as: connections and barriers between the river and the mainland and how the orientation of the buildings can be used as a visual connection to the waterfront.

Evva Antoniou, Silvia Mefi, Hui Jing, Nadine Wolz, Yuen Shan Li.

Group 2

This group focused their study on the topography and the influence on urban morphology. The steep mountains and the narrow rivers shape an interesting microcosm of industrial history and architecture on Zorrotzaurre. The pristine of the site is the response of the human scale to its context.

Dmitri Chong, Jiaming Bi, Niamh de Buitlear and Filio Zacharoglou.

Group 3

This group looked at the rich diverse history that Bilbao has had and how this can be celebrated through its architecture. One of  their main findings was how neglected the river was and how it should be used as an asset for the city. They felt that if this was done Zorrotzaurre could be made more accessible and a much more desirable place for all users of the city to visit.

Andrew Morris, Bjorg Agasoster, Ros – Buxton Smith and James Anthony Gidden

Group 4

As a group they focused their investigations on the diverse and mixed use of the site looking at the thresholds and boundaries associated with the site. Zorrotzaurre has become excluded from the rest of Bilbao in identity, and infrastructure. A clear conclusion is that Zorrotzaurre needs to be reconnected to the city, opening up views and vistas to, from and across the site. The Site has the potential to bridge the city and become a catalyst for change. But the question is how do we do this?

. Lee Seng Kiat, Jamie Yap, Corinna Maigler and Andrea Luciano Giordano

Group 5

As a group they focused their investigations on the grid of Bilbao and its constructed and visual connections to the island of Zorrotzaurre. Their models interrogated the ground and wider context as well as nodes, landmarks and landscape structures. From their observation, the island of Zorrotzaurre could become a catalyst for change through a green infrastructure connecting the south of Bilbao with the north. In addition, pedestrian-friendly bridges would enhance the accessibility to the island.

Denitsa Dimitrova, Tim Snell, Rae Wu and Tom Barstow

Group 6

Using their models they explored the possibility of inviting the nearby university campus space onto the centre of the island. They looked at creating further links with the wider context by bridging the island with a proposed train station at the south-west side of the island, thus providing a new route of access to university via the new station. The flow of people to and from the university would be encouraged to be involved in the range of activities taking place at the centre of Zorrotzaurre, such as the fresh produce market, exhibition spaces and a revamped skate park.

Jonathan Higgs, Harmony Wee, Kieran Urich and Shak Bazarov