Vote now for the City of the Future

Over the summer, Take Back The City held a trailblazing competition, inviting architects and urban planners from all over the world to design a first-of-its-kind, climate-resilient community at the Mackie's site - the largest, vacant publicly owned site in Belfast. Click here for the full report.

Over 50 architects and urban planners from 6 continents expressed an interest in designing the ‘first of its kind, climate resilient community’ as part of an international competition. Fifteen finalists from countries including USA, Mexico, Ireland, India, England, Australia and Iran have entered designs to illustrate how the 25-acre publicly owned space could be used to help tackle the issues impacting the surrounding communities.

Today, Take Back the City — a group of campaigners, including families in housing need, supported by experts on everything from human rights to city planning and policy — is kicking off a period of public engagement with these designs to help shape plans for the transformation of the former Mackies site in Belfast into a climate resilient community.

The competition is the latest stage of a trailblazing participatory city-shaping campaign led by homeless families with the support of human rights organisation, Participation and the Practice of Rights, one of the MAC's Associate Partners as part of our MACtivate inititive.

The Mackies site is located between north and west Belfast – an area of long-standing poverty with the greatest housing need in Northern Ireland. The site is owned almost entirely by the Department for Communities, led by Sinn Féin Minister, Deirdre Hargey – who promised to deliver 100,000 homes before Stormont collapsed following the May elections. The Minister has been invited to attend.

Take Back The City campaigner Marissa Mc Mahon explained:

"Our vision for Mackies is to start to build a city fit for the future – a future without peace walls dividing communities, where every child has a safe and sustainable home. This vision has been shaped by years of campaigning and it has really ignited the imagination of international designers.

It's exactly what this place needs – fresh eyes on the problems that have left the city divided, people in poverty and homelessness out of control. The politics is in a sorry state. Business as usual isn’t working. So why not try something new?

Mackies has been vacant now for nearly twenty years while people living around it struggle to put a roof over their heads. Belfast has so much untapped potential but we can’t keep backing projects like Tribeca which leave the city derelict. Over the coming weeks we are holding art exhibitions, public meetings, political engagements and conversations of all shapes and sizes to help get as much feedback as possible.

We are inviting everyone, not just the many thousands of families who are suffering desperate poverty and homelessness in our city, but absolutely everyone - elected representatives, developers, Ministers, Chief Executives, experts, officials – whoever, to look at these world-class designs - to feedback their thoughts. It only takes a few minutes on your phone or come to any of the public events.’’

How can I have my say?

Join any of the upcoming public events to meet campaigners and interact with the designs or log on to have your say, anywhere, any time, using our latest interactive tool - coming soon to

21 - 23 October at the MAC
– A three-day exhibition of 'My Dream Community' - the artwork of local children alongside City of the Future designs. Starts 1pm Friday 21 October. 10 Exchange St West, Belfast, BT1 2NJ.

26 October
– Join Take Back the City campaigners at The Housing Rights Service Participation Event – Registration and costs apply - Click here for details.

7 November
6pm - Forth Spring Intercommunity Group – Join the conversation at the Mackies site – 373 Springfield Road, Belfast, BT12 7DG.

22 November
1pm - Lessons From New York with Martin Dunn, CEO Dunn Development Corporation. Martin will share experiences of overcoming challenges and embracing opportunities to deliver over 3000 units of affordable housing in New York using innovative, inclusive and sustainable development models. If you are in the business of delivering homes, don’t miss this one. Belfast city centre venue TBC - Click here to register for Lessons From New York

Keep an eye on Participation and the Practice of Rights' (PPR) social media channels for updates on events near you and vote early and vote often, for the future you want to see.