Clare Mulholland


Negotiating spatiality of border area facilities and intergroup mixing in divided cities

Public spaces are places where members of the public can interact, negotiate and debate their social, cultural and spatial encounters of the urban experience in celebration of diversity and difference. Interface space in segregated cities, however, is a zone of continuous politics, game of acquisition and territories that governs each group’s spatial behaviour and movement patterns, making the creation of space for intergroup contact a profound challenge.  Particularly critical are sites within border zones between two communities, they are places of risk and uncertainty, while simultaneously are spaces of potentials and hopes of meaningful engagement in everyday life. Through  empirical investigation, this thesis investigates the spatial strategies and design of public service buildings in border interface areas in Belfast, as an effective means of enabling practical socio-spatial interaction between divided groups and focusing on the ‘spaces of engagement’.

Through recording and analysing spatial design of 3 buildings in border areas, medical centre, school, and nursery, along with people’s engagement patterns and spatial contact, this project will detect and define three patterns of spatial systems in border area buildings: spaces of ‘imprinting division’, spaces with ‘embedded yet concealed division’ and spaces that ‘negotiate division’.  This project explores the preconception of division through Public services that are venues of mutual co-habitation and potential peaceful interaction on the basis of needs, in everyday life.

Supervisors: Dr. Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem, Dr. Gehan Selim, Professor Frank Gaffikin