Question & Answers Well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for being so patient, I know that some of you will have to leave but we do have a question and answer session and I'm going to ask Lars and Martha if they will join me at the top table. During this question and answer session there will be a roving mike available and if you would wait until the mike arrives before asking your question, when you get the mike, if you would also give your name and then your question, that would be of great help, so thank you very much. I'm sorry that we've run over time so we did plan to have everything finished by half past seven but… But it's our fault. We did make a late start, in our defence, we did make a late start, but if you could address your questions and we can try and get the question time over within ten or fifteen minutes. Question here. Q. Billy Dickson, Blackstaff Community Development Association. I belong to one of the inner city communities which is obviously under threat. I'll try and frame as a question my thoughts. I've been very much involved in trying to save the community with many others in Belfast, what has happened, the development in the city has driven a lot of the people of Belfast out and I think the important thing is more to get the people in Belfast to stay in Belfast and the pattern that has been developing has not really considered the people of Belfast. Just to give one example, the first slide we seen tonight, Shaftesbury Square, to the right of that part of Sandy Row, terraced housing has been replaced by car parks and luxury flats, this has alienated the local people, there is no real thought, and even within the people themselves there's not a great deal of thought because people have become completely disillusioned, the patterns, and I could obviously go on and on, but for sake of time, the patterns that has developed has not encouraged people to stay in Belfast and we have to do that first, I think the authorities have failed, and if that pattern and patterns continue on there is no future and it's got to be addressed now and dealt with now. Bill, is that a question to Lars? I think that the city and its people should really start thinking about how, what they need to do to invite themselves and the people here back into the city, if you constantly do a lot of different things, a counteraction to bring in people because the environment is not good or because you pull down terraced housing where there is people or whatever it is, I don't know all those details locally of course, but I think one should have a firm strategy where someone comes up and really starts moving in one direction and brings in new quality and in that way also invites people to move in again. I know you've had also a lot of special trouble here in the area, all these different problems already, but I also understand that one thing, the city centre and also some of the new districts that develop are sort of neutral to the old trouble lines, and I think that's a special issue here in Belfast. On the other hand I do think that is not really the way to bring progress, you need to have, to come up with a firm strategy and go in a direction where it can bring quality back into the place and then also commitment and pleasure, I think, that Martha was talking about, something enjoyable, that everybody would like, and not just enjoyable for somebody in some district, you need to do something which is enjoyable for all. Martha? Well, the only recommendation I could give, and I don't know Belfast well enough, is that if you don't have anybody at a high level who is really an advocate for design, who is sensitive to the issues of what makes a city attractive, it would be useful if you did because the cities that really hold that up as part of the approval process that in fact you have to achieve a certain standard of design are able to do things more carefully, but if you don't have anybody in power who actually cares about that and is a good advocate and articulate about it, it's going to be very tough to hold sway against just financial bottom line thinking that creates those kind of decisions. Q. Hi, my name is Cathal I'm a student of landscape architecture and I'm just curious if any of you are familiar with, I know Martha's working in the Dock in Dublin, but it's Lars is familiar with the development that's happening along the canal, or along the river in Dublin and I don't know, do you have an opinion on this development or have you seen it? Was it a development in Dublin you talk about? Yeah, I mean, they seem to be taking the opposite way to what you advocate and what Martha advocates, so I'm just curious are you familiar with this, even where Martha is doing her, Martha is doing a project down there and the area around that, despite her project? No, I haven't seen the project, so I don't think I have any detailed information on it, no. Martha, have you a comment you'd like to make? Yeah, no, I actually think that's a very good comment, I think it does lack a certain textures, they're all kind of big buildings and they're a kind of, I think the mistake, the mistake about the planning there is that it's kind of a zone kind of thinking, you know, where there is a zone for offices, a zone for cultural buildings, and I think that when you actually have different uses in the mix it tends to kind of then break things down, but yeah, I think that that's, I think you're right, I think it lacks a certain kind of cut to the grain. Q. Hello, my name is Ruth Orr and I'm at the University of Ulster, I'm an architect, and first of all I'd like to say that the series has been wonderful, but this evening has been spectacularly good and I've really enjoyed lots of the comments, some of them I disagree with, but some of them are really intense, and I'm interested in the inverse kind of diagram you have of people, space and then finally we might just eventually get to some buildings, so I'm interested in that process at work, and you, both of you clearly display really good kind of observational skills and intuitive skills to how people are and space to a certain extent, I would say that Martha shows that quite a bit as well. But have you experiences of working in a participatory way and how has that worked out? Martha, do you want to answer? Yeah, a lot of our work is participatory, absolutely, but it's a process that has to be orchestrated very carefully. It's very, I mean, how you actually engage the public and how that is organised is crucial because, you know, as I said, everybody has their own agenda, everybody believes that the public space belongs to them and it does, so you have to really officiate between kind of what people like, their individual tastes, but what's interesting is most people are horribly inarticulate about saying what it is that they want, so we find that in order to get real reactions actually from anybody you have to actually propose something physical and that is really what gets the ball rolling in terms of getting the reaction. But you have to really kind of decide when the comments are appropriate and when they're not appropriate, in other words, there's no way of having a group designing so that they're deciding what the form is or what the specifics of the form is and what the, you know, that can't be done, so I have to say that designing is a fairly singular, designing public art is a singular activity, it can be well informed by public input, it can be shaped by public input, but in fact somebody clearly has to hold the pencil, but hopefully if somebody who is listening, you have somebody, you know, you have a group of people who are set up to officiate behind that, but the artist has to be somebody who is seen as a specialist, they have very special specific skills to bring to a table and once you actually allow them to do their thing, you end up with a horrible hotchpotch. So it really depends on kind of how clear you are at defining what the rules of engagement are, but I feel that your design is, my, our designs are much better because of the public input we get because we don't know most things about where we're working. If I could make a comment on it I would say, I see it like at two levels, some of the things we do as part of a more pedagogical, you want to make a strategy, you want to go in the one direction, you can get information about what are the criteria, the ideas that you have to work on. At the other end you need new ideas, I mean, you cannot generate anything out of just an analysis or the goodwill, but you need to inform, to open the minds, that you can move in a direction, and the other end of that, you need original ideas that start being the ones you can start talking about and say, well, you like this part of it or that part of it or "this is a fantastic idea, but we…" and so forth, then you're into, engaged in the process of doing it the other end. So I think there's two sides of it and I think that covers it in my case. I mean, I would say really quickly that we have been very successful, I think, at being able to do this, but what we typically do is we try to assess different possible directions and come up with maybe three or five initial starts down different avenues of exploration and before we get too far into it we make a presentation and we see what happens, what people respond to, what they hate, what they like, and then out of the pieces, the shambles of that first process, we start to kind of pull it together, but, you know, we're able to get feedback very quickly if we're not really married to any one particular approach until we find out really what we're doing. I think we have time for one more question. Q. Can public spaces become drivers of social change or do they only have to reflect existing attitudes? Imagine perhaps people on either side of the bank in that river in Derry to want to interact with those living on the other side, but you have a vision of a shared future and you start building those bridges. So putting people first is always putting what they want now first or what are ideas of the future for the city, please? Oh that's a darn good question and, boy, I think that one has to speak one's heart, I think one, as a professional, one has to put your hat in the ring in terms of what you think is best for the world, I think you just can't be a cipher which, you know, kind of you translate the wants and needs of everybody else around you and you stay mute. On the issue of Derry, I mean, I think it's very interesting, my guess is that most people don't want to be brought back together again, but it, I mean, I travel around the world, I see a lot of things, I do understand people to a certain extent, and if Derry is going to really engage in the future and if Derry's citizens want their children to stay there and if they want those children to have a better life there's no way that they can stay separated because there's no way of competing against other cities that have come together and in a world that has come together, so to just say, "well, OK, they don't want to come together and therefore they won't" would be, it would be a terrible lack of leadership and I think sometimes leadership, it can cost you votes, can make people angry with you, but without people trying to press forward we would all probably be staying, have stayed in the same place, I think by and large people don't like change, but I do think that the idea of staying, you know, war time zone that has cost so many people so many things, is not necessarily everybody's point of view, and a lot of people, including the people who brought us to take a look at it, who want to move things forward, so you're not going to be able to please all the public ever and you have to kind of decide what you can do to make things better and hopefully people will at least trust your motives, but I think to say that, "well, OK, maybe even if most people wanted to stay the same, you still may disagree with that point of view", so, you know, you don't have to draw lines in the sand, I mean, there's another skill, well, kind of doing what people want to do, I mean, you know, you want to create spaces so that people get to kind of do the things that people in general like to do, but at some point you have to bring your own value system into it as well, otherwise, you know, you're not much of a consultant, I would say, I don't know. Jan, you must have a, I mean Lars, you must have a better take on that question, but… Well, not really it's a tall one. Could I actually say that's a very interesting and philosophical question raised. I think we in Northern Ireland know all about the past, unfortunately too many of us live in the past, but we're all living in the present and I think to learn to live in the present, to learn from the past, but look forward to the future and make the decisions that we think our society needs for its future, you can only look and assimilate that information by what we have learnt from the past, put behind us the worst things and experiences that we've had, and that goes for all the things that surround us, our architecture, our culture, our history, our identity, we need to put that into the past, live in the present and go forward into the future together. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank our two speakers tonight for the contribution that they gave. There's one statement that came through very strongly to me and it was a combination of what Lars said and what Martha said, and I've put the two things together, the power of an artistic people-driven vision is what the city should be about and what we as designers should be thinking about as we design our cities. We've been discussing these evening how we as clients, as developers, as planners, as architects and simply as citizens who are interested in the development of our city, how we should address the problem of urban design, it's all about making place for people, and I'm reminded of the Japanese calligrapher who as he dipped his brush in the ink was thinking just as much about the white space that he leaves behind as the letter he's going to perform. We need as architects to think about the buildings we build in association with the landscape architects who come along and design the spaces outside of buildings and about the people and the purpose for which we're designing, shouldn't be designing for ourselves, we should be designing for the people of our city and for the benefit of all who will inhabit that city. On behalf of you all I would like to thank Martha and Lars for their considerable contribution to this lecture tonight and I would ask you to please in a well honoured way show your appreciation to Martha and Lars. Finally before you leave, there are copies of tonight's presentation for those, of this event and of the previous events, and you will find that on the State of the City website at www.belfastcitycouncil.gov.uk so if you're interested in anything that has gone before and what has happened tonight, you will get that there. And also I would like to, on behalf of the City Council, to invite you to the Third Annual State of the Conference, or sorry, State of the City Conference which is due to take place in the Waterfront Hall on 9th May, you're all very welcome to come and attend for that. But thank you all for attending.