Public CoLab 2020: Exploring the Impact of the Ecological Crisis in Belfast

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Public CoLab is an annual collaborative design research event held at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). It harnesses the energy, skills and creativity of architecture staff and students and seeks to explore, each year, one particularly pertinent spatial phenomenon in Northern Ireland. During an intensive week-long workshop, small teams of students work with a range of experts and stakeholders from industry to create visualisations, audio or audio-visual packages, models, installations and spatial narratives. They do so by gathering together the various individual skills in the group: from architectural thinking to narrative strategies to data analysis to interviewing.

Public CoLab 2020 explored how ecological crisis in Belfast might affect the city’s built environment such as housing, streetscapes, public parks, transport, business and agriculture. This year master’s students from Broadcast Production at QUB joined the fold and brought specific storytelling and media production skills to the project.

At the end of the project’s week-long span this year, each Public Colab’s team showcased its collaborative multimedia work in The Sonic Lab at QUB’s Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC). Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Peter McReynolds officially inaugurated the event.

The multimedia outputs – short films, soundscapes, interactive props, screen presentations, choreographed installations – were all brought to life through live, spoken-word interventions by the students, utilising the 48 strategically-located loudspeakers and multiple large screens of the Sonic Lab. This gave the presentations a deeply immersive nature which enabled the audience to be fully engulfed in the visionary future narratives being presented.

This publication shares some of those creative outputs presented at the Sonic Lab. They have all been brought about through many creative, inter-disciplinary conversations that happened throughout Public CoLab 2020.

Public CoLab 2020 is facilitated and curated by Nuala Flood (QUB Senior Lecturer in Architecture) and by Don Duncan (QUB Lecturer in Broadcast Production) in partnership with Lucy McCarthy (QUB Lecturer in Supply Chain Management), Qiyao Han (QUB Postdoctoral Researcher in Landscape Urbanism), Climate NI, Sustainable NI, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Belfast City Council’s Resilience Office.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages50
Publication statusPublished - 06 Jul 2020


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