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How Architecture Tells the Story of Conflict and Peace in Northern Ireland

06:00 - 11 May, 2017
How Architecture Tells the Story of Conflict and Peace in Northern Ireland, Over the past fifty years, Northern Ireland has transitioned from war to peace © Robinson McIllwaine Architects / Hufton+Crow / Flickr user: placeni / Flickr user: dr_john2005 / Wikipedia Commons User: Fribbler
Over the past fifty years, Northern Ireland has transitioned from war to peace © Robinson McIllwaine Architects / Hufton+Crow / Flickr user: placeni / Flickr user: dr_john2005 / Wikipedia Commons User: Fribbler

Architecture is often intertwined with political context. This deep connection is especially evident in Northern Ireland, a place of infamously complex politics. The state came into existence as a consequence of war in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned into an independent Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland) and Northern Ireland, an industrious region still controlled by Britain. Conflict has since ensued in Northern Ireland between a majority pro-British Unionist population, and a minority, though significant, Irish Nationalist community. The latter half of the twentieth century witnessed a brutal struggle, with over three thousand people killed, thousands more injured, and harrowing images spread across the world.

The turbulence of Northern Ireland’s conflict is played out in the architectural development of Belfast, its capital city. With thirty years of war from the 1960s to 1990s, the architecture of Belfast embodied a city under siege. When the prospect of peace dawned in the 1990s, an architecture of hope, confidence, and defiance emerged. In the present day, with Northern Ireland firmly on a peaceful path, Belfast has played host to a series of bold architectural ideas and landmark public buildings by award-winning architects. With the rich, bitter, emotive history of Northern Ireland viewed through multiple, often conflicting prisms, the architectural development of Belfast offers a tangible narrative of a city which burned, smoldered, and rose from the ashes.

Aftermath of the 1975 Mountainview Tavern bombing in Belfast © User: Tdv123 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA-4.0 The Titanic Centre, Belfast © Flickr user placeni. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) The Lyric Theatre by O'Donnell & Tuomey Architects © Dennis Gilbert The Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre by Heneghan & Peng © Hufton+Crow +20

Ballymagarry Road House / 2020 Architects

05:00 - 26 June, 2016
Ballymagarry Road House / 2020 Architects, © Aidan Monaghan Photography
© Aidan Monaghan Photography

© Aidan Monaghan Photography © Aidan Monaghan Photography © Aidan Monaghan Photography © Aidan Monaghan Photography +18

Selleney / TDO Architecture

15:00 - 11 March, 2016
Selleney / TDO Architecture, © Mark Cocksedge
© Mark Cocksedge

© Mark Cocksedge © Mark Cocksedge © Mark Cocksedge © Mark Cocksedge +17

Future Uncertain for Daniel Libeskind's Maze Peace Centre

00:00 - 19 August, 2013
Future Uncertain for Daniel Libeskind's Maze Peace Centre, Courtesy of Studio Daniel Libeskind
Courtesy of Studio Daniel Libeskind

After initially getting the go-ahead earlier this year, the design for the Maze Peace Centre in Northern Ireland, designed by Daniel Libeskind in collaboration with McAdam Architects, was dealt a major blow last week, when First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson retracted his support for the controversial building, saying that it would be wrong to continue with the build without achieving a consensus.

Read on after the break to find out more about the controversy.