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Super suburbia: Local empowerment and closing resource cycles in North Belfast.
Professor of Architecture
Director of Research
Queens School of Architecture
Sustainability can be described as having three interlinked strands, known as the ‘trias energetica’, without which resilience is difficult to achieve. These strands are environmental, social and economic: and if taken as indicators, the suburbs of North Belfast are very poorly performing indeed. Places such as Ligoneal and Glen Cairn have poor housing stock energetically, and also little economic activity. This paper describes propositional work completed by Queens University and Belfast City Council as part of the UK’s Technology Strategy Board’s Future Cities Programme, which aimed to develop new synergies in these neighbourhoods by the insertion of closed cycle economies.
By utilising a research by design methodology, the paper develops a process-based and phased design to develop a new emergent form to these neighbourhoods, one in which new productive systems are embedded into the city, at a small-scales. These include a peak-load hydro-electric project in Ligoneal; a productive landscape in Glen Cairn and a city-wide energy refurbishment utilising neighbourhood waste streams.
These designs allow for a roadmap for development to be created that could change the modus operandi of an area over a relatively short period of time, and show that even modest investments of productive technologies at a local scale could fundamentally change the form and the economic and environmental operation of the city in the future.