Business Park/At The Peaceline
Argyle Business Centre was developed to re-build the economic and commerical prescence in the area that had been disrupted as a result of the Troubles. It is now home to around 50 small to medium enterprises that employ approximately 150 individuals. It provides support to the local community groups and initiatives.
The space is indicative of the way in which large, very functional-looking retail and business parks have effectively been used as peaceline zoning in parts of the Belfast urban landscape. In his Troubles Archive essay, Ciaran Mackel writes: “The interface walls, the motorways, the provision of “enterprise zones” and urban infill planning strategies have all had drastic and negative impacts on connectivity in Belfast” (“Cultural Context”).
Henrietta Williams writes: “Eighty percent of those killed in Belfast during the conflict were within 500m of a peaceline. These locations were some of the worst battlegrounds of the Troubles and continue to act as a focus for violence in Belfast. The areas closest to the inversely named “peacelines” are still the most dangerous parts of Northern Ireland. “There are complex borders between communities. The longest peaceline runs three miles long and divides the Shankill Road from the Lower Falls Road, yet other walls are much shorter, encircling and splitting communities in a more problematic set of divisions. In other locations interfaces are invisible: an underground wall in a cemetery dividing the dead [Belfast City Cemetary]; the Westlink motorway; two bus stops at the same location for different communities.” The peacelines were intended to be temporary structures; however, there are now estimated to be up to 30 miles of dividing walls throughout North and West Belfast. The peacelines of Belfast, while not architectural, are nonetheless dominant structural elements of the built environment and they remain as physical markers and reminders that the normalization in housing and civic space has some way to go.
Photograph by Brian Morrison
Argyle Business Centre
39 North Howard Street