The Woodvale HUB Development Project: engaging students and local residents in the regeneration of urban public space.
In collaboration with local activists working to regenerate a disused corner of Woodvale Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the Architecture faculty from the University of Ulster designed a student project through which to generate new ideas and advance the original proposal by stimulating dialogue between students and area residents. Through a 2-year series of community-based workshops with a wide range of local user groups and other stakeholders (e.g., Belfast City Council, the police and local business owners), the community's objectives for the space were recorded and explored, and design options developed.
The information generated through these workshops provided content for two issues of the Yellow Press newspaper, which was distributed widely both locally and throughout the city to encourage further discussion and response. Feedback from both the workshops and the Press informed the production of an interactive 3D Model of a proposal which was displayed at public events locally and in local community centres, schools, and shops over the next four months.
The success of the HUB project demonstrates the potential of CBR to empower residents, particularly in socially deprived communities like Woodvale, by affirming their status as local 'experts', by revealing the capacity of ordinary people for creativity, innovation and insight, and by proving that it is possible for citizens to initiate projects that would not be realised otherwise within the institution and developer-driven mechanisms that tend to shape urban public space, particularly in under-privileged communities. The project also demonstrates the potential of CBR practices to help build consensus amongst diverse constituents, and as such has much to offer those within the statutory sector who wish to increase their engagement with local communities.
Theme: Engaging students in community based research
Presenters Name: Jennifer Cornell; Dougal Sheridan
Presenters Institution: Friends of Woodvale Park / Greater Shankill Alternatives (J Cornell); University of Ulster / Building Initiative (D Sheridan)
Jennifer Cornell is a member of Friends of Woodvale Park (FWP), a community organisation which exists to encourage, support and facilitate full and safe use of Woodvale Park, both by local people and by visitors to the area. FWP also seeks to develop and deliver a long-term regenerative strategy for Woodvale Park that reflects the needs and interests of park users, perimeter residents and the wider community.
Dougal Sheridan is a lecturer in Architecture at the University of Ulster, a member of the Building Initiative Research Group and Principal of LID Architecture. His research publications focus on critical theory in relation to the appropriation of urban space and publications and awards in practice relate to the use of landscape concepts and strategies in architecture and urbanism.