The StreetSpace project: Alternative visions for local mixed streets in Belfast

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Capturing the essence of a place is a complex and broadly researched field. Different disciplines approach sense of place, place attachment and genus loci from different perspectives. However, this thorough understanding of the connection of people to place is underplayed in planning and architecture practice. Frequently, planning and redevelopment respond more to the needs of the market than that of local people. Nowhere is this more evident than in local mixed streets under threat of demolition and redevelopment. The complexity of this phenomenon cannot be captured by a single approach, which is the motivation behind the StreetSpace research project, a Belfast based multidisciplinary project started in 2012. The project seeks to reveal and expose a series of different layers of people’s experience of place in specific streets in Belfast and other European cities. StreetSpace explores streets with a rich mix and diversity of uses and people, with complex histories and especially those streets that risk losing their distinctive identities due to redevelopment. We believe that the accepted methods of urban analysis of built environment based on form, function and use are not effective enough in revealing a sense of place of mixed streets and the deep complexities of people in place related to class, gender, culture and age, among many other variables. Therefore, the project combines specific built environment research and representation with expertise from other disciplines that study the urban environment, such as sociology, geography, anthropology and art. The project also seeks to enable a dialogue between academia, policy and the public through the organisation of interdisciplinary local workshops in cities across Europe and through a series of architectural design studios that explore streets in Belfast. The project analyses the existing conditions of streets and proposes a series of interventions that respond to the needs of people of the place.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban Inventories
EditorsThomas-Bernard Keniff, Carole Levesque
PublisherBureau d’études de pratiques indisciplinées École de design
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2021


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