The StreetSpace project was successfully launched last Friday 12 May with a symposium and an exhibition in PLACE, Belfast. StreetSpace is an interdisciplinary research and teaching project at QUB, led by Dr Agustina Martire, which seeks to understand the significance of superdiverse streets, by analysing their physical, historical and experiential aspects.
Streets are not just corridors to go from A to B. They are complex entities that connect diverse areas of the city. They can have the social, cultural, economic, and political layers of the city embodied in the buildings that bind them and the people that use them. However, urban planning and policy since the mid-twentieth century has neglected this complexity. This international project aims to provide an alternative way of planning, preserving and developing streets.
The symposium included talks by Matthew Carmona (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL), Jane Clossick (London MET, Cass Cities), Philip Crowe (UCD Architecture), Gordon Clarke (Sustrans), Saul Golden (Ulster University) Anna Skoura, Chris Karelse and James Hennessey (PhD students at QUB). They covered the complexity of local high streets; the importance of people led development; the need of mapping and planning at eye level, including open source mapping; the pressing issue of a less car-led development; and the need for the reuse of buildings, among many other issues.
We also held a round table in which members of the Department of Communities, Belfast City Council, Belfast Healthy Cities and the Ministerial Advisory Group participated in a lively conversation about the issues raised during the presentations. The exhibition will close with an event titled ‘Heritage at Risk’ on Monday May 22 which will discuss issues of community heritage, heritage practice, and global heritage. The exhibition is open in PLACE (7-9 Garfield Street) until Tuesday May 23. A publication and website are also now available to the public.
We would like to thank the speakers, participants and especially the Culture and Society Cluster at the School of Natural and Built Environment for funding this stage and allowing a public output of the project.