Walls are edges between two distinct entities; urban forms that attempt to express neutrality as infrastructure while firmly rejecting interaction between opposing constituencies. Walls are usually contiguous lines; establishing absolute boundaries and absolute limits.
Belfast, Northern Ireland is no stranger to walls. Over 100 currently exist in the city as peace-keeping mechanisms separating Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. These highly visible urban forms create parallel communities with parallel services; producing redundant infrastructures and multiplying territorial subjectivities. The City of Belfast wants all the Interface Walls removed by 2020, but the citizens want them to stay. Of the 100 walls, it is estimated that 37 will remain. As Belfast struggles to create a new marketable image for world of a city moving forward, the interface walls spread out across the city remain a marker of its conflicted past.
But there may be hope for reclaiming the city, and in turn, pushing Belfast into a more transnational urban landscape. Unlike the Berlin Wall, the walls in Belfast are non-contiguous boundaries between communities; navigating the city means commuting around and through the walls on a daily basis. The Interface Walls in Belfast do not act as literal walls dividing the city, but as symbolic walls. And as a symbol, the meaning and function of the walls can change.
37+ proposes creating this shift in the symbolic nature of the Interface Walls in Belfast by introducing more walls; a network of 221 insertions in the walls that house schools, clinics, pubs, and parks. These new lengths of Interface Walls create a datum in the city that redefines the symbol of the Interface Wall as a divisive edge; exacerbating the multiplication of infrastructures and subjects to a positive effect through serial deployment of shape, materiality, and program. This new urban identity for Belfast acknowledges and rejects the contentious territoriality extant in the city, converting urban forms dedicated to separating communities into attractors for the city that negotiate contentious space.