In 2019, the highest number of domestic abuse incidents in Northern Ireland was recorded at 31,817 for the year. Unfortunately, due to the current need to self-isolate caused by COVID-19, there has been a further increase with a 15% rise in domestic abuse related calls to the police in Northern Ireland. In 2019, a third of women were unable to be accommodated in shelters around Northern Ireland due to max capacity and insufficient facilities.
Traditionally, the location of a women’s shelter was to be kept private and usually situated within a residential area to prevent abusers tracking down their victims. However, due to an increase in social media use and easy access to the internet, these locations are now easily found. This means a new approach to designing future shelters is needed to allow the women and children to stay in a shelter where they feel safe and at home but where they aren’t restricted or hidden away.
The proposal within this project is to consider a different approach to create a safe and secure environment for the women and children living in the shelter. The location of the shelter is in Sailortown which is considered part of the city centre and is situated between the Harbour Commissioners Office and the new City Quays development. The women’s shelter is part of a larger plan for all of Sailortown which includes the design of thirteen new buildings that aim to revive the community of Sailortown and to bring residents back.