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Architect focussed on social justice wins international design competition for Mackies site in West Belfast

London-based Matthew Lloyd Architects has won a Belfast urban design competition run by Take Back the City – a coalition of families in housing need and experts in planning, architecture and design, who are campaigning to convert 25-acres of publicly-owned land in west Belfast into a sustainable and inclusive housing development.

The international urban design competition was launched last May to demonstrate how the former Mackies site, off Springfield Road, could be transformed to tackle the growing housing crisis and escalating poverty in North and West Belfast.

Out of 67 entrants from six continents, 11 prestigious entries were shortlisted from Ireland, Scotland, England, Egypt, India, Ukraine, Canada, USA and Mexico. Lloyd’s was selected as the winner because it delivered a design which promotes ‘connectivity, links between communities, sustainability and habitability’.

Matthew Lloyd of Matthew Lloyd Architects, winner of the £10,000 prize sponsored by the Oak Foundation, with Caoilte Collins (7) who won the children’s city of the future design competition. Also pictured are Marissa McMahon of Take Back the City campaign, and Mr O’Doherty, Principal of St Clare’s Primary School. Campaigners have been working with local communities to develop proposals for the Mackies site for many years.

Over the past 25 years Lloyd’s practice has worked alongside local people on a range of developments including mixed-tenure housing, churches and community buildings, mainly in east London.

On Monday, a £10,000 prize, sponsored by the Oak Foundation, was awarded to Matthew Lloyd himself at Forthspring Inter Community Group adjacent to Mackies, where campaigners have been working with local communities to develop the proposals for the site for many years.

Matthew Lloyd said: “What really motivated us to compete was the socially-oriented nature of the project. The brief for this competition was not your typical architect’s brief; it was people-centred and truly appealing.”

“Collaboration will be key in bringing this plan to life on the site, and we are excited to get involved and showcase what can be achieved.”

Marissa McMahon of Take Back the City said: “We held this competition because our local housing system is completely broken, and local authorities are either unable or unwilling to develop effective ideas to reduce the ever growing housing waiting lists in our communities. We looked beyond our borders for the best the world has to offer and were overwhelmed by the quality of designs.

“Matthew Lloyd and his team perfectly addressed the brief developed by families in housing need. His design was endorsed in an unparalleled process of community engagement which included hundreds of local people in public events and thousands more online before being judged by an international panel of experts.

“Working with Matthew and his team we will now submit the plan for the approval of local council and the support of elected representatives. Council’s local development plan provides a framework for the people of Belfast to participate in decisions about how our land is used.

“We do not need to suffer a housing crisis. We do not need to suffer a cost of living crisis. We have a choice. We can build a sustainable city, without walls, where every child has a home and that is what the Take Back the City plan aims to achieve.”

To view the winning design, please visit:

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