Field Work: Brexit, Borders, and Imagining a New City-Region for the Irish Northwest

The FIELD WORK sponsored studio will advance alternative futures for the Irish Northwest through the collaborative disciplines of landscape architecture, ecology and anthropology. Focused on a cross-border area between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the studio will give form to a region (the Northwest City Region) which is arguably already in existence culturally and institutionally, but not well articulated formally through mappings and visual and spatial boundaries. The identification of this region is increasingly topical and necessary in light of the expected economic, social, and political impacts of Brexit, due to take place on March 29, 2019. Brexit is the impending withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) with the current Ireland/Northern Ireland Border the remaining boundary between EU and United Kingdom jurisdictions, laws, controls and identities. 

The studio will question the logics and limits of the City-Region at a range of scales from territorial to project sites and what forms these may take over 5, 20 and 50 years; investigate how the Region can be represented cartographically while respecting existing and future political borders; and consider the issues of ‘island’ and ‘island identity’ within the context of the European mainland. The nature of borders and boundaries will be tested against the concerns of climate change and population displacement and the studio investigations will ask how landscape design amplifies, focuses or masks national imagination within the context of Ireland and the United Kingdom. A field trip to the Irish Northwest will take place during the last week of March, 2019 where the class will carry out fieldwork, on-site research and take part in an academic conference with students from University of Ulster, Belfast and Letterkenny Institute of Technology. The studio is open to students from all degree programs although the focus of the work will be concerned with land and landscape as a planning and design medium.