Co-designing a shared future: how can children be a part of reimagining Belfast’s interfaces?

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Abstract

The conflict in Northern Ireland has resulted in a legacy of peace walls that have instilled both physical and mental barriers. Following the publication of the 2023 target to remove interfaces, there has been substantial discourse on how this can be achieved. The Together: Building a United Community strategy included a 10-year programme to reduce and remove all interface barriers by 2023, although there appears to be a significant lack of clarity or direction around how exactly this target can be met.

The presence of walls has altered how children in interface communities perceive their spaces, community and city. The participation of children in complex areas is key to unlocking the full potential of spaces that exist behind physical and mental barriers. Envisioning spaces through a younger lens would incorporate untainted perspectives on neighbourhood places. Children are paramount in the design of communities and cities. This is particularly crucial in a post-conflict society. Incorporating play and nature within the context of an urban environment is difficult. Especially in areas of multiple deprivation, in which regenerating contentious urban sites is more challenging.

This research will explore the views of children who live in interface localities facing deprivation in Belfast. It will analyse children’s perception and usage of interface sites; how they are currently consulted as part of planning and regeneration processes and how different consultation approaches could be used to harness the creative potential of the younger generation. The time frame for project completion is 2023, since it is a PhD project funded by the Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership.

After undertaking a pilot placemaking summer school programme related to an interface area with a local community centre, innovative and relevant concepts were developed. The plan created as a result has generated interest from statutory agencies and stimulated real-life improvements that have been achieved by working closely with the young children within the community. Challenges moving forward include remote working, which is extremely difficult for those in disadvantaged areas, land ownership, vision buy-in and funding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages14-15
Number of pages1
Publication statusUnpublished - 08 Dec 2020
EventWHO European Healthy Cities Network Annual Conference -
Duration: 08 Dec 202010 Dec 2020

Conference

ConferenceWHO European Healthy Cities Network Annual Conference
Period08/12/202010/12/2020

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