David Coyles, Brandon Hamber & Adrian Grant to Receive the 2024 Best Article in the Journal of Urban Affairs Award (Sponsored by Routledge | Taylor & Francis)

Dr. David Coyles (Ulster University), Dr. Brandon Hamber (Ulster University) and Dr. Adrian Grant (Ulster University) have been selected to receive the 2024 Best Article in the Journal of Urban Affairs Award for their paper “Hidden barriers and divisive architecture: The role of ‘everyday space’ in conflict and peacebuilding in Belfast.” This award is sponsored by Routledge | Taylor & Francis.

This annual award gives recognition to a paper published in the Journal of Urban Affairs (during the previous year) that is considered particularly outstanding as a scholarly contribution to the field of urban affairs.


“David Coyles, Brandon Hamber, and Adrian Grant are the winners of the 2023 Best Article Award in the Journal of Urban Affairs (volume 45) for their article, “Hidden Barriers and Divisive Architecture: The Role of ‘Everyday Space’ in Conflict and Peacebuilding in Belfast.” Drawing on archival research, previously closed government records, interviews, focus groups, and photographs, the authors examine how “everyday” urban spaces and architecture form hidden barriers that continue to divide and restrict the interactions of Protestants and Catholics in post-conflict Belfast. The research shows how these barriers operate at three levels: inter-community, intra-community, and “invisible boundaries” of public spaces perceived locally as demarcating territorial divides.  These barriers still divide Belfast’s Protestants and Catholics more than 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement. Although focused on Northern Ireland and its history of sectarian strife, the article bears directly on other zones of conflict around the world and informs efforts to remove historically rooted barriers to creating more inclusive communities in other contexts. The authors are to be commended for their theoretically informed and elegantly designed research and very well-written article.


David Coyles earned his PhD in Architecture from Ulster University and serves as Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Director of the Architecture Research Group at the Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment at Ulster University. Since 2012, David has directed the Hidden Barriers research programme as Principal Investigator on two successive United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded multidisciplinary research investigations bringing together architecture, photography, urban planning, conflict studies, social policy and history, to examine the ways in which conflict shapes urban space and community development. A chartered Architect, David is an elected councillor of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects and is a member of the Northern Ireland Ministerial Advisory Group for Architecture and the Built Environment.

Professor Brandon Hamber is the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace at Ulster University at the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE). He is a member of the Transitional Justice Institute. He trained as a Clinical Psychologist in South Africa. He is a Visiting Professor at the Geneva Academy in Switzerland. He has undertaken consulting and research work and participated in peace initiatives in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Liberia, Mozambique, Bosnia, Colombia, the Basque Country and Sierra Leone, among others. He has written extensively on the psychological implications of political violence, masculinities, memoryscapes, and the process of political transition. He has published over 40 journal articles, some 30 book chapters and 4 books. His work is also published in popular formats (e.g. the Irish Times, Guardian, Belfast Telegraph), and he was a regular columnist (some 100 pieces) for Polity. He was awarded The Paul Harris Medal for contributions to peace by Rotary (2013). He was listed in the Top 100: The Most Influential People in Armed Violence Reduction by the AOAV Network (2013/2014). Professor Hamber is a board member of Healing Through Remembering (Northern Ireland) and Impunity Watch (Netherlands) and a Trustee of Conflict Textiles. 

Adrian Grant is a historian and lecturer at Ulster University (UU) in Ireland. He has worked across disciplinary boundaries since beginning his academic career with a PhD in labour history. Dr Grant took up a postdoctoral research position at the University of Galway in 2012 before returning to UU in 2013 to work at the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE). He has held various academic positions at UU since 2013, working in a diverse range of areas including politics, architecture, history, and peace studies. He is the author of two monographs on modern Irish history and a range of articles in politics, history, and urban studies journals. Since 2015 he has specialised in urban history and has engaged in collaborative research and practice-based work with architects, planners, policymakers and other urbanists. He leads the Historical Urbanism research programme, which explores the history of urban renewal and its impact on people and communities over time. He has worked as a historical advisor and consultant for government, media, museums and cultural institutions. Dr Grant has been appointed to various funding peer-review and advisory bodies and is currently leading on the development of a new program in Global Irish Studies at Ulster University.

The formal presentation of this award will be made at the upcoming International Conference on Urban Affairs in New York at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The theme of this year’s conference is Cities on the Edge: Promoting Equity and Resiliency through Research, Activism, Planning and Policy. The conference will convene over 1200 participants from 55+ countries and representing 20+ fields of study. All award recipients will be formally recognized for their achievements during the Awards and Recognition Program on April 24, 2024; 4:30 – 5:30pm.


Alex Schwartz, The New School (Chair); Jae Hong Kim, University of California, Irvine; Rachel Kleit, The Ohio State University; Stefan Norgaard, Columbia University; Raksha Vasudevan, Teachers College, Columbia University


The Urban Affairs Association (UAA) is an international professional organization for 700+ urban scholars, researchers, policy analysts, & public service providers. UAA is dedicated to creating interdisciplinary spaces for engaging in intellectual and practical discussions about urban life. Through theoretical, empirical, and action-oriented research, UAA fosters diverse activities to understand and shape a more just and equitable urban world.

In addition to hosting an annual conference, UAA sponsors ongoing professional development opportunities; Upsilon Sigma: The Urban Studies Honor Society; and two peer-reviewed journals, the Journal of Urban Affairs and the Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City. You can find UAA on the web, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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