Billy's Sailortown stories : unpacking the dense and compact city through graphic anthropology

Martire, Augustina and Madden, Aisling; (2022) Billy's Sailortown stories : unpacking the dense and compact city through graphic anthropology. In: Annual Conference Proceedings of the XXVIII International Seminar on Urban Form. University of Strathclyde Publishing, Glasgow, pp. 1020-1027. ISBN 9781914241161

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Since the 1960s, Belfast has suffered from the predominance of car centred planning. Sailortown, one of its most diverse, active and dense neighbourhoods was destroyed by the urban motorway in the 1970s. The neighbourhood suffered mass demolition and the displacement of over one thousand families and 300 businesses over 5 years. The dense, mixed-use, plot-based urban form disappeared, but the fabric of Sailortown survives in the stories of its old and new residents, recreating the urban forms of the past. Through the StreetSpace project we investigate the fabric of streets and the people that inhabit them. We carefully engage with the physical and spatial form, as well as with the experiences of local residents. We value different approaches to urban morphology and are especially interested in the value of the plot and block. Our contribution to the discussion about urban form and the value of the plot is methodological. By introducing graphic anthropology (Ingold, Lucas, Ramos, Kuchnir) we bring the experiences of people in place to the forefront, exploring the value of the urban fabric in everyday life. In this paper we will present studies of urban form and space, combined with graphic anthropology, of a series of blocks in Sailortown, understood through former resident Billy McIlroy’s stories. We would like to present this as a conversation about how the memories of a place can be redrawn to highlight the value of the dense, diverse and compact urban fabric of an erased past.

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