Accessing Architecture Exhibition

D/deaf, Disabled and Neurodiverse Artists responses to the Built Environment

A new exhibition has opened in Belfast showcasing artistic work reflecting disabled people’s experiences of the built environment.

Now open at the University of Atypical for Arts and Disability Gallery on Royal Avenue, the Accessing Architecture exhibition reflects on contemporary attitudes and artistic interpretations to access and inclusion in urban design and architecture. 

The work, created by D/deaf, Disabled and Neurodiverse artists, is the culmination of a two-year project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  The project delivered a series of creative workshops, lectures, research opportunities, disability awareness training, a film archive collaboration with Northern Ireland Screen and a partner project with the Strand Arts Centre. A documentary film on the project will also be released in January 2022. 

Sean Fitzsimons, Chairperson of the University of Atypical, commented: “The Accessing Architecture project and exhibition address an important aspect of disabled people’s experience of the built environment.  The project gave an important voice to disabled people who faced barriers to access within the built environment in Belfast and beyond.”

The Accessing Architecture exhibition includes work by artists Paula Clarke, James Ashe, Jacqueline Wylie, Marie–Therese Davis and Helen Hall.  Workshops included Plaster landscape casting with architect/maker John Donnelly of ‘Model Citizen,’ and Richard Dougherty, architect, on Access and Architecture.

Deirdre McKenna, Exhibition Co-Ordinator, explained that the two-year project allowed people to explore the built environment through a range of different perspectives. “Being able to access a building or move through the streets is every person’s right. Each of the artists responded to the project in different ways filtering their experiences through their creative process and unique perspective.”

The project offered a series of experimental workshops exploring dance and movement to find ways of expressing our physicality of how we move through our city and surroundings.  The project was impacted by Covid-19 restrictions and many strands of the project had to move online.   

Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We are thrilled to support the University of Atypical in uncovering the cultural heritage of disabled communities in Belfast. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Accessing Architecture exhibition is bringing forward new and exciting work by D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists. Reflecting on these experiences of accessibility and the built environment will broaden understanding in the wider community.”

The Exhibition runs until Friday 27 January 2022 at the University of Atypical Gallery at 109-113 Royal Avenue, Belfast.   There will also be a virtual tour available online. To find out more about the exhibition go to