What is Street Society?

Street Society is a week-long design event facilitated by architecture staff in the School of the Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast.

Street Society brings clients from not-for-profit community and voluntary sectors together with talented first year undergraduate and master’s students of architecture, to produce something remarkable and stimulating. Since 2016, Street Society has been supported through Northern Ireland Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative, to contribute to the community consultation and engagement in areas of high deprivation.

The chief purpose of Street Society is as a place of shared learning. The students learn from one another and from the clients, and the clients gain insight into the process of design and the value of their built environment. Given the post-conflict context of Northern Ireland, it is significant that Street Society is a creative and positive process. This open learning- and design process does not necessarily result in deliverable architectural solutions: instead it demonstrates possibilities, capturing ideas that already exist at community level, and exposing their value.

The outputs of Street Society are sketches, plans, 3-D images, maps, models, prototypes, artifacts and ideas: some of which may become embedded in community plans; inform funding bids; or lead further down the line to built initiatives. But the really valuable outcomes are a richer awareness and new relationships between community organisations, the university, and future built environment professionals: a dialogue about the built environment at street level.

What have the students produced? Working for clients across Northern Ireland and further afield, Street Society offices have built city models; developed street furniture designs; designed listening maps; generated proposals for re-use of derelict heritage buildings; contributed to village masterplans; created pop-up spaces…

For examples of Street Society projects to date, see our Archive (currently being updated). Meanwhile, for an international context, the Live Projects Network hosts a portfolio of live projects undertaken around the world.