Description of chosen placeThis stretch of Stranmillis embankment along the river Lagan was home, for 25 years, to many families displaced by WWII bombing. These 72 prefab ‘Botanic Bungalows’ built in 1946 – housing from No. 1, “Hall, John, civil servant” to No 72, “Guinn, Sgt. Andrew, R.A.F.” (source: 1951 Belfast Street Directory) – would have seen children born, raised, up and gone. Funerals, weddings, birthdays, the stories of these lives, marked by war and impermanence (these poorly constructed prefabs, although intended to be temporary, were inhabited until April 1971 when they were demolished to make way for the Ulster ’71 festival) (source: “The resident of the last pre-fab bungalow at the Ulster 71 exhibition site in Botanic Gardens is interviewed.”) have left no visible trace. Today, a fence, hedge and carpark replace the once busy village of working class people (tram drivers, postmen, shop assistants) suddenly thrown together by circumstance and necessity. Apart from scant photographic sources and some testimonials from internet forums, no documents or archives record the lives of the 72 families of Botanic Bungalows, this forgotten place.
What do you imagine the space could be?I imagine a shadow presence of the homes with boundaries traced on the empty space they left behind. Soft markings on the grass could represent boundaries. Plaques could indicate family names with QR codes for people to record further information and memories on residents' lives. An online archive of memories and photographs could be made available to descendents of those who lived, for some, the best years of their lives.
Submitted byColin Shaw
February 19, 2023