What defines ‘a divide’ more, a physical wall or a more intangible barrier?
A wall typically defines the physical boundaries of space, however in Belfast the ‘peace walls’ separate two communities; a complex religious and social divide that is somewhat specific to Belfast. Furthermore, following the 2016 Brexit referendum, new divisions were added to the mix as the wider United Kingdom voted to leave in the EU, whilst Northern Ireland voted to remain.
My proposal is for a linear city that follows the location of existing Belfast ‘peace walls’ but with a wider footprint to absorb a displaced community. Occupants cross UK border control to enter this new place; inside a utopian city thrives, still connected to the EU with free trade and free movement of people and also without the residual sectarian divide that still persists in Belfast to this day.
The ‘peace wall’ is therefore appropriated and transformed. Existing buildings are absorbed by walled city and new ones added, principally a series of linked structures that hang off its boundary walls. The public and private realms are separated vertically, with places of work and play distributed at ground level whilst a layer of communal living is situated above. Spatial connections are fluid, principally through a series of elevated platforms and network of courtyards and laneways.