Let the Power of Live Projects Combine

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This paper proposes a method by which schools of architecture and design can engage with the development of their surrounding contexts in a meaningful and practical way. This method will be illustrated using a case study of a five-day environmental design event that brought small groups of architecture students, from Queen’s University Belfast, together with eleven clients from East Belfast. Working in collaboration, they created architectural responses to a variety of client-identified spatial issues. The research and design was undertaken in a pop-up laboratory situated in a formerly empty retail space and in the very neighbourhood where all eleven projects were situated. This location became a space where multiple stakeholders could both express their aspirations for the locality and experiment with giving these ambitions form through creative conversations with the students. By externalising their thoughts, in the shared context of the laboratory, the clients revealed a variety of other perspectives about the future of the area. The individual projects acted as props to talk through, while the overall event acted as both a platform for initiating dialogue between multiple interested parties and as an instrument for the cultivation of new understandings about the area of the city under study. In addition, as a meaningful pedagogical experience, it provided students the opportunity to work with real clients and real projects in real time. Thus, this case study offers a promising method for other schools of architecture and design to contribute to the development of their city.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2016


  • live projects
  • contested cities
  • architectural education
  • design education
  • collaborative urban development
  • architectural pedagogy


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  • When Live Projects Combine

    Flood, N., 30 Jan 2016.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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