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Ulster Students Push the Boat out for Architecture Project

10 November 2011

Visitors to the Duke of York pub in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter can be forgiven for thinking they’ve sailed back in time to the city’s nautical past.

A replica Curragh, built by a team of University of Ulster students, has been suspended under a street light outside the bar and it’s proving a great talking point among passers-by.

The wood and canvas structure was made by architecture students, under the watchful eye of renowned Galway boat builder, Jim Horgan and Lecturer in Architectural Construction and Building Technologies, Jim Luke as part of the University’s OUTside Project week.

And, as Dr Jenny Russell, Lecturer in Architecture explained, this is one of a number of projects which students have embarked on to highlight that their skills go much further than drawing and designing.

“They have introduced traditional boat building techniques to construct the Curragh and used their architectural skills to position it as a ‘roof’ over a section of Commercial Court outside the Duke of York,” she said.

“The students have suspended it under one of the street lights and as it’s covered in canvas it will allow light to permeate through, creating a type of lantern.

“I think it has established a real point of interest for the users of Commercial Court, but it also highlights that architecture goes beyond the practicalities of drawing and design.

“Not only have the students been learning fabulous traditional methods of construction, but there’s nothing to stop them taking those techniques and using them architecturally in their own designs.

“We’re very honoured to have had the expertise and guidance of Jim Horgan and the support of Wood NI which sponsored the project by providing us with timber.”

Dr Russell said OUTside Project week had given students an opportunity to gain a practical insight into how their skills and knowledge can be used both socially and environmentally.

“It has been undertaken outside their normal working practice and shows them how architecture engages with the local community – it actually gives students an understanding of what social interaction and social intervention means,” she explained.

Students have been involved in a number of initiatives during OUTside Project week engaging several different aspects of their work – some are analytical and others are specifically centred on building or drawing.

One team is constructing a sensory walkway using recycled materials, to illustrate that what many people regard as rubbish can be turned into something beautiful.

Originally designed for the Donegall Pass area of Belfast, the mobile architectural installation will be taken to a number of venues throughout the city.

Another team is working with the East Belfast Partnership to develop plans to turn an area of neglected land at the Peace Wall on the Lower Newtownards Road into shared gardens or allotments for both sides of the community.

The OUTside project also involves students working in a variety of different media and several groups are using the medium of video.

One team is putting together a highly informative video aimed at providing potentially new students with a comprehensive overview of what the University has to offer to its architecture students.  It will be uploaded on Facebook and YouTube.

Another group is focusing on Belfast tourism and students have built a pop-up gallery in the foyer of the Belfast campus, which will celebrate an alternative tourist trail through the city.

Note to news and picture desks:

The installation will only remain in Commercial Court until Monday November 14.