The Institute of Spatial and Environmental Planning
School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Michael, Laura

Managing Sacred Spaces: an examination of development processes at historically sensitive sites
through the lens of collaborative planning theory



School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Queen's University Belfast
Level 3
David Keir Building
Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5AG
Northern Ireland


+44 (0)2890 974254

Current Research:

The landscape, that is, the context for our everyday living and social interactions, is a palimpsest of meanings and memories that have become attributed to place.  It is the backdrop to our social interactions and cultural identity, and is in fact inherent to that identity.  This research considers how place can become imbued with meaning and is open to interpretation, particularly where particular events of the past are remembered or memorialised within the landscape.  applying this to the context of state planning processes, which often fail to acknowledge these complexities of place.  The research explores the how places are memorialised and further sacralised in the landscape through meaning-making processes, and considers planning and developmental engagement as potential contributors to this.  The application of collaborative planning as a theoretical lens allows the research to consider how planning may more effectively engage with places of this nature in a development context.  The tendency for commodification of memorialised space is then explored as an outcome or consumptive stage in the changing nature of the landscape, considering in particular the development of sites for tourism and heritage purposes.  The research adopts an interpretive mixed methods approach of comparative case studies and tourist surveys to understand these complex narratives that contribute to the production and consumption of space.

Supervisors: Dr. Linda Price & Dr. Brendan Murtagh


MSc Urban and Rural Design (1st Class Honours), Queen’s University Belfast
BSc Environmental Planning (1st Class Honours), Queen’s University Belfast


08/09/2011: ‘From Conflict to Peace’ Conference, Georgetown University, Washington D.C. - Delivered paper - ‘Managing Sacred Spaces’ (Keynote Speaker: Senator George Mitchell)


DEL Research Scholarship
‘From Conflict to Peace’ Conference, Georgetown University, Washington D.C. – one of five places funded by Queen’s University Belfast


Planning Service Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2nd and 3rd Year – BSc Environmental Planning


EVP1001 Introduction to Spatial Planning – conducted a series of lectures, assessed and marked coursework and examination papers
EVP1012 Spaces, Places, Plans – Conducted a lecture on interpretation of place, assessed and marked students’ derive assignment
EVP2007 Site Layout and Design – designed and conducted a computer workshop on visual presentation techniques
EVP2013 Planning Theory and Society – Assisted in class group discussion and small group tutorials
EVP8014 Design in the Built Environment – designed and conducted computer workshop on using Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign and other visual presentation and graphical techniques