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AJ Student Prize 2019: Ulster University

The two students selected for the AJ Student Prize by Ulster University

About the Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment

  • Courses BA (Hons) Architecture, MArch 
  • Location Belfast 
  • Head of school Neil Hewitt   
  • Full-time tutors 
  • Part-time tutors 6 
  • Number of students 97
  • Staff to student ratio 1:11 
  • Fees NI/EU £4,275, UK £9,250, international £14,060 


Aedan Mackel, BA (Hons) Architecture, Hidden Barriers

Undergraduate aedan mackel

Undergraduate aedan mackel

Project title An Teampall Mór 

Project description The Belfast Glider travels along its cyclical route, into the eastern district of the city edge. It stops incrementally along the Albertbridge Road, with its shuttered shop fronts, where the real city people reside. Its legacy is one of neglect, under-investment, vacancy, dereliction, criminality, and ultimately, fear. The lack of socialising agents, through education, religious institutions, community groups, or sports clubs, has aided in the further disenfranchisement of young adults, seeking status and recognition.This proposal seeks to develop a new adult education and resource centre, using the principles of Cedric Price’s Fun Palace to deliver a structure that adapts to its ‘usefulness’ over its life. This building will connect to existing infrastructure, and transport routes, to reconnect the neighbourhood to the city centre and other satellite colleges, blurring the lines between public space, civic buildings and residents. The spatial programme adheres to the concept of ‘free space’. Pods, knitted to the steel frame cores, provide controlled learning, which rise above the open volumes, where bridges punch through the inner polycarbonate skin, all suspended from a rooftop gantry. Whether stepping through the undercroft of polycarbonate or awaiting a ‘glider’ at a subterranean kiosk, or ascending through the cores to the rooftop garden, there is a sense of passage. 

Tutor citation ‘Aedan’s project draws on extensive research into the complex post-conflict issues affecting the inner-city community of East Belfast and the provocative theoretical ambition of Cedric Price’s Fun Palace, to creatively transform a nondescript conflict-era space into an active hub for community engagement and social connectivity.’ David Coyles 


Kastytis Donauskis, MArch, WaterLands SuperStudio

Postgraduate kastytis donauskis

Postgraduate kastytis donauskis

Project title Casa d’Acqua 

Project description

The project addresses relative isolation and limited access to the extraordinary ‘landscape’ of Venice’s Arsenale, which is resonant with memory. The project forms a new gateway to the lagoon, and to the city, and introduces a new water route, breaching the massive wall of the old military base by connecting it with the Canale delle Galeazze and straddling this key water channel as an extruded palazzo and inhabited wall. Multiple programmes, including a maritime museum and a centre for oceanic studies in combination with a new vaporetto route, open up the heart of the Arsenale. Evolving from an abstracted set of readings of the campo as the fundamental DNA of Venice, the section of the building and the material and detail references (such as to the ‘hidden forest’ that sustains the flotation of every building) act as spatial figures already embedded in Venetian architecture but now re-deployed in a layered sequence of spaces from which to explore views of the city, its history and the craft of its naval vessels. At the centre of the building on the public belvedere, which connects across the canal, is a flotilla of displayed vessels, the central one of which captures the high point of Venetian naval architecture.The recalled tracery of Venetian Palazzo screens, now as structure, cast shadows across this vessel like the triangulated early maps of the oceans, while seen below are the contemporary everyday vessels, which pass through on their daily journeys in and out of Venice. 

Tutor citation ‘Kastytis’ design thesis evolved directly from his “immersive” experience and placement in the British Pavilion during the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale. Weaving together skilfully his ideas, his sketchbook studies of Venice, his dissertation on the relationship between buildings and water, and the wish to address the restricted use and access to the Arsenale, the concept of the Casa d’Acqua as a new gateway emerged.’ Paul Clarke