Hostname: page-component-59f8fd8595-klmmf Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-22T07:36:36.005Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Fear in disguise: defensive architecture and façade permeability in shaping the urban experience of Belfast’s public spaces

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 October 2022

Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem*
Rights & Permissions[Opens in a new window]


HTML view is not available for this content. However, as you have access to this content, a full PDF is available via the ‘Save PDF’ action button.

This article investigates architectural responses to everyday sociospatial practices in public spaces in the postconflict urban landscape of Belfast, where public buildings and façades impact pedestrian flows and movement patterns in the public space. While the city has an extended history of vibrant public spaces and active urban life throughout the first half of the twentieth century, devastating memories of the so-called Troubles leave imprints of division across the city’s public spaces. Inscribed by memories of conflict and violence, ground floor façades are mainly solid, disengaging, and do not encourage fluid movement across their thresholds. This article argues that the architectural design of public buildings and spaces characterise attributes of a reciprocal reproduction of memories of fear. A comparative analysis of the architecture of four different public spaces in Belfast city centre highlights factors that inform the relationship between the building façades, ease of accessibility, and use of the public space.

Full Paper
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BY
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press