About Project

Contested Territories is the academic blog of Paul Bower, a PhD student looking at how architectural practice in Belfast, Northern Ireland has been impacted and shaped by social conflict and what may lie beyond ‘post-conflict’ architecture. The research intends to be a visual inquiry into the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland on architectural practice and what may be learnt for the future of architectural practice and the profession of architecture more widely. The project is based around a series of aims and objectives:


  1. To further our understanding on the nature of the Northern Irish conflict and its transformation from the perspective of architectural practice and its latent possibilities, and conversely;
  2. To unpick architectural practice and the profession of architecture through the lens of an extreme state of conflict, as manifested in a divided city and society such as Belfast and Northern Ireland.
  3. To look at, learn from and deploy the use of visual methods in the post-conflict context.


  1. To better define the conditions of architectural practice during and after conflict in Belfast, Northern Ireland;
  2. To identify the consequences of social conflict on architectural practice and analyse how it impacts and affects the way architectural practice was, is now, and might be in the future;
  3. To examine whether practicing architecture in critical contexts can enrich the role, responsibility and agency of the architect and its profession in the future; in order to address how might architectural practice/intelligence and spatial thinking be better used in such conditions to aid conflict transformation.
  4. Use an action research methodology to collaboratively produce the research material, and utilise visual techniques to help re-present, provoke, test and communicate the research findings.


The PhD is DEL funded and takes place at the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering (SPACE) at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. The PhD is supervised by Professor Ruth Morrow and Dr Agustina Martire. A lot of what is contained on the blog has emerged through dialogue with others, none so more than with Ruth and Agustina.

All images and content are copyright of the Author, unless otherwise stated and permission must be sought before use.

(Views expressed on this blog are personal and should in no way be considered that of the institutes or groups I belong or the co-professionals I work alongside.)


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