Take Back the City presents...

A blueprint for a better Belfast

A year ago, we asked architects to imagine how the Mackie's site could be transformed to help communities respond to the cost of living, housing, and climate crises in line with a set of principles developed by homeless families. The response was outstanding. Here you can see the winning design, meet the architects behind it, as well as hear from the judges who chose the winners. Read on to learn why Belfast needs this inpiring project and how it can be realised.

See the masterplan
Competition winners

Matthew Lloyd Architects

Over the past 25 years Matthew Lloyd Architects has worked on community regeneration projects mostly in East London. Much of this has been centred on new-build housing and mixed-use provision, where their work has helped to transform run-down localities.

Matthew Lloyd on Mackies: "Mackies is a wonderful site characterised by an outstanding and unusual urban topography. We agree that it is an ideal location for a major piece of city regeneration and renewal that could have a huge impact on the city of Belfast for the very long term."

Panel of Judges

Ten years in the making

For ten years Take Back the City activists have been photo-mapping available land in Belfast which could be used to tackle the housing crisis. Since 2020 we have hosted seminars that brought together international experts and homeless people with the goal of finding solutions. Surveys and workshops involving local people, housing associations and council duty-bearers have explored the potential of the Mackie's site. In 2022, we launched our international design competition and the shortlisted entries drew thousands of visits, comments, votes and downloads of the plans. In 2023 NI Opera produced the acclaimed opera, Nobody/Somebody, about our Mackie's campaign, attracting enthusiastic audiences and packing out the theatre.

Council duty-bearers

Five points of failure

  • Reinforcing sectarianism and segregation
  • Contributing to climate collapse
  • A "private sector first" agenda for housing
  • Ignoring homelessness by massaging statistics
  • Wasting valuable public land and resources
Take Back the City Coalition

Five obvious solutions

  • Creating inclusive homes for everyone
  • Building sustainability into the design
  • Exploring alternative housing models
  • Ending homelessness by building homes
  • Creating public good from dormant spaces
Take Back the City logo The Take Back the City coalition was formed in 2020 to develop sustainable solutions to Belfast’s housing crisis. We are families in housing need supported by experts in architecture, urban planning, housing policy, technology, communications, permaculture, human rights and equality.
Supported by
Oak Foundation logo PPR logo Queens University Belfast logo Town and Country Planning Association logo