Shannon-Rusk, Aisling

The Co-Production of Space in Divided and Contested Contexts:
Spatial Praxis and Other Ways of Knowing




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:

Spatial planners and designers have a particular, rarefied knowledge about space (in Lefebvrian terms, they primarily 'conceive' of space). When it comes to contested space [accepting all space is contested to a degree], there are other types of knowledge which are relevant, such as that of people who live and work within the spaces, who are rarely the same people as those who plan and design it. Existing models of participation and consultation within government planning processes do not succeed in incorporating these other (subjugated) knowledges; the 'formal' knowledge of 'professional experts' continues to be privileged in the shaping of space.

‘Each society has its regime of truth, its “general politics” of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true’.  
(Foucault quoted in Rabinow P. (1986) 'The Foucault Reader' p.73)

Some spatial practitioners are navigating these obstacles to give voice and shape to other 'truths' about contested space in divided contexts. This research seeks to shed some light on alternative, unconventional, 'edge' modes of spatial praxis that incorporate subaltern knowledges, and other ways of knowing, in order to explore how architects and planners might re-conceive of their role(s) in contested space.  Primary areas of fieldwork are Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine.

‘Architecture itself cannot solve social problems: I think that it can and does provide positive effects when the liberating intents of the architect coincide with the real practice of people in the exercise of their freedom.’
(Foucault, M. (1997) ‘Space, Knowledge and Power’ p.36)

Supervisors: Prof Frank Gaffikin and Dr Ken Sterrett


ARB/RIBA Part III registration as an Architect
MArch Architecture (Commendation) , Cardiff University
BSc (Hons) Architecture (1st), Robert Gordon University
BTec Diploma Foundation Studies in Art and Design (Merit), Manchester Metropolitan University

Conferences / Presentations:

"The Politics of Shaping Space: Architects in Israel/Palestine", at 'Architects With or Without Frontiers?' RIBA round-table event, Queen's University, Belfast, November 2014
"Power, Resistance and the Politics of Shaping Space: Spatial Practitioners in Divided Contexts", Critical Legal Conference, Queen's University, Belfast, September 2013
“The Politics of Shaping Space: The Role of Architects and Planners in Divided and Contested Societies” at 'Borders and Boundaries:  The Construction and Transformation of Urban Space' workshop, Interdisciplinary research group on Social Justice and the Divided City, Queens University Belfast, June 2013
“Planning and Architecture in conflict cities” at ICAN conference Challenging Place, Derry/Londonderry, March 2013
"Building in Conflict/Shaping Peace? The Architect in Contested Space" Public Lecture, PLACE Centre for the Built Environment, Belfast, February 2013
"The Ethical Engagement of Architects within Contested Contexts" AIARG Annual Conference, Limerick, January 2013


William and Betty MacQuitty Travel Scholarship, 2013
Cardiff University RIBA Presidents Medals Dissertation nominee, 2010
Robert Gordon University RIBA Presidents Medals Bronze nominee, 2008
'First in Class' prize for BSc (Hons) Architecture, 2008
Robert Gordon University Art & Heritage Collections Purchase Prize for Degree Show, 2008
City of Aberdeen Civic Medal for 3rd year Architecture student, 2005


PhD Research Studentship, SEUPB, 2012-15


Published Architectural Design work: Madsen, A (2014) 'History in the Making', Selfbuild & Improve Your Home', Spring 2014 issue: 112-119.  Available here

Website/research blog available here