Queens University 2014/15

Michael Corr
Sarah Lappin
Consultant: Professor Mark Brearley, Head of CASS Cities Programme

In 2015, planning powers in Northern Ireland will be devolved to local councils for the first time. This window of opportunity is not one to be missed and offers a key moment for architectural thinking to make real impact. We are also witnessing the 50th anniversary of the planned modern city of Craigavon, part of a long line of “new town” planning on the island of Ireland, spanning Palladian-style village towns of the 18th and 19th centuries, to Ebenezer Howard-inspired garden villages to the compulsion toward modernisation found at Craigavon. Alongside the opportunity presented by the change in planning powers, the issues of modernity and its relevance today are currently being examined at the 2014 Venice Biennale and in an Belfast-based exhibition curated by PLACE.

Our studio group will embark on a study of this spatial phenomenon, questioning the roots of the “new town” idea internationally. We will look at two specific sites in which new town planning was deployed in the 20th century in Europe, consulting with local planners and architects about current issues. Simultaneously, we will examine the local manifestations of “the modern” in those locations. We will ask what issues and constituencies were taken into account when these areas were originally created as well as investigating those which were ignored. Students will both develop a deep understanding of the significant cultural, political, philosophical and economic contexts for these aspirational moves and make comment, through design, on the relevance, challenges and potential futures for new towns in the second decade of the 21st century.

Photo Credit: Photograph by Victor Sloan