Appropriating architecture: violence, surveillance and anxiety in Belfast's Divis Flats

Page, Adam (2017) Appropriating architecture: violence, surveillance and anxiety in Belfast's Divis Flats. Candide - Journal for Architectural Knowledge (10). pp. 90-112. ISSN 1869-6465

Appropriating Architecture
Can10_Page_E_20Sep Proofread (1)AP.pdf

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


In Belfast in the 1970s and 1980s, a modernist housing scheme became subject to multiple contested appropriations. Built between 1966 and 1972, the Divis Flats became a flashpoint in the violence of the Troubles, and a notorious space of danger, poverty, and decay. The structural and social failings of so many postwar system-built housing schemes were reiterated in Divis, as the rapid material decline of the complex echoed the descent into war in Belfast and Northern Ireland. Competing military and paramilitary strategies of violence refigured the topography of the flats, rendering the balcony walkways, narrow stairs, and lift shafts into an architecture of urban war. The residents viewed the complex as a concrete prison. They campaigned for the complete demolition of the flats, with protests which included attacking the architecture of the flats itself. The competing appropriations of the complex reflect how architecture is remade through use.

Keywords:Modern Architecture, Northern Ireland, Conflict, Architectural theory, Social movements
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V147 Modern History 1950-1999
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K440 Urban studies
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V210 British History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (Heritage)
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ID Code:27617
Deposited On:07 Jun 2017 15:19

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