Welcome to Open House Belfast - Architecture & Engineering Festival

Between the 27 – 29 October we will open up some of the city’s most interesting and exciting buildings and spaces for you to experience, free of charge.

The aim of our festival is to highlight and celebrate well designed architecture and engineering in the city, and engage with you, the public, to initiate discussion about the impact of good design in our lives.

This year it has been really exciting to extend the festival to include a third day, spreading out the programme and allowing more time to get to more events!

We have organised the programme into three categories; Buildings, Engineering Projects and Special Events. Some of our favourite buildings are returning to the programme, such as; Transport House, The former Belfast Telegraph building and The Strand Arts Centre while engineering projects will include; The Lagan Weir and Tunnel and Translink’s train maintenance and training facility.

We are showcasing some really innovative new developments like; Cullingtree Meadows Dementia Care Facility and Ormeau Baths entrepreneurial hub, and we have secured access to grand and iconic buildings like; The former Bank of Ireland on Royal Avenue and Laganview House.  Some architects and designers will invite you into their offices, studios and workshops to see how they work, and our special events will include accessing the heights of the Lanyon building at Queen’s University to see the conservation brick work they are undertaking, and a walk around North Belfast’s ‘Cultural Corridor’.

We at PLACE are delighted to be presenting the third annual Open House Belfast Architecture & Engineering Festival from 27 – 29 October 2017

openhousedublin.com | openhousecork.ie | openhouselimerick.ie

So whether you are a resident of, or a visitor to Belfast, this is your opportunity to discover the city from new perspectives, hearing directly from the architects, engineers and users involved.

From exploring empty and disused spaces to experiencing innovative new developments, our programme invites you to relive the past, and see into the future.

Who is PLACE?

PLACE is an independent not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting great architecture, design and planning in Northern Ireland.

Our purpose is to create a better place to live, work and play.

We work with various types of organisations, institutions and government department across Northern Ireland to encourage high standards of design and engineering, and increase public engagement with their built environment to promote community development and healthier societies.

A quick overview of last year’s festival

Notes from our Sponsors and Supporters

Perspective is the journal of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects and its aim is to spread the word on great architecture and great design.

What could be better then than a festival celebrating some of the outstanding buildings which we have in our city?

Now in its third year it is also fantastic to see the Open House Belfast Festival go from strength to strength, we’re right behind it.

Our health, happiness, wealth and identity are closely connected to how the structures and spaces or our city are designed. Yet the architecture of Belfast is easily overlooked.

Open House Belfast is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s built environment, to discover it and enjoy it. RSUA wholeheartedly supports this wonderful festival which reveals the architectural treasures that we have and makes us think about the future development of Belfast.

RSUA is the professional body for architects in Northern Ireland and is focused on promoting architecture that enhances life in the region.

FCBS Belfast are delighted to continue our sponsorship of the ‘Open House’ event in Belfast. Open House is a fantastic event to be involved in, for both designers and the general public alike.

The festival has evolved and grown each year, providing unprecedented engagement between the city and its inhabitants. FCBStudios are delighted to be involved in bringing this great event to a wider audience in Northern Ireland.

There is no better way to understand Belfast’s built environment than to get inside, behind and around it. Open House Belfast’s site visits and other events offer us all unique access to the buildings and infrastructure all around us. Once again this year, Arup is a proud sponsor.

Arup is a global leader in infrastructure design, building engineering and professional services for the built environment. Our Northern Irish business was founded in 2000 and our engineers, planners, project managers, transport specialists and sustainability consultants are building a reputation – project by project – as leaders in their fields. Our projects include Belfast Hub, Connswater Community Greenway, a proposed new masterplan for Belfast’s East Bank, the recently-completed dualling of a section of the A26, and building projects such as the IFA National Football Stadium at Windsor Park and a planned maritime museum in Derry~Londonderry.”

How often do we stop to consider the familiar sights and spaces in our city? How much do we know about the engineering that makes modern life in Belfast possible?

Open House Belfast offers us the chance to examine and admire the structures, places and spaces which embody the city’s distinctive history and character.

Civil engineers create the infrastructure that makes Belfast a great city in which to live, work and play. They build our roads and structures, supply us with water and energy, protect us from flooding and manage our waste.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is proud to support Open House Belfast and its celebration of the city. We hope that you find inspiration in the engineering and artistic ingenuity which has shaped Belfast’s story and will define its future.

How to Book

To book for any of the guided tours or special events please visit the event page and use the EventBrite link to book your tickets. . The bookings will go live on 20th October please follow us on Facebook to stay up to date.

The tours and events are free of charge but our numbers are limited, therefore please book only what you know you will need and also let us know in good time if you cannot make the event.


Booking for guided visits is essential. As many of the buildings are still under construction or have been empty for a while, numbers on each tour vary and are limited. We have indicated which visits and events are most family friendly.

We are committed to making this weekend as accessible as possible for everyone, we have noted general accessibility info for each building but if you have any additional special requirements please let us know when planning or booking your visit and we will do our very best to accommodate.

Please be aware that there could be changes to access times and venue info, so do keep an eye on our website for up to date information, or join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Belfast Bikes

Use a Belfast bike to get around your festival locations with the three day membership!

Belfast’s bike share scheme, Coca-Cola Zero Belfast Bikes is quick and easy to use with docking stations spread across the city. Many of these docking stations are close to the festival venues.

To use the scheme you need to register first. You can take an annual membership for £20 if it’s something you think you would use again. Or if you just want to use the bikes over a few days, you can register for a casual three day membership for just £5.

For both annual and casual memberships, the first 30 minutes of your journey is free once you’ve registered. If you dock the bike at any docking station within the 30 minute period, there will be no further charges (we recommend giving it a pull to make sure it’s properly locked in). After 30 minutes there are incremental charges starting at 50p per half hour for up to four hours.

To avoid charges, use the bikes for short journeys, to get between festival locations and dock the bike close to your destination. When you’re ready to move on to the next location, simply rent another bike! Bike docks are noted on your handy festival map at the back of the programme.

How to register

Go to www.belfastbikes.co.uk

Call 034 3357 1551

Input your details at one of the docking station terminals


The PLACE team would like to sincerely thank our sponsors; Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, ARUP, and our partners and supporters, The Royal Society of Ulster Architects, Institution of Civil Engineers and Future Belfast, for their generous enthusiasm throughout and contribution to the programme. The festival certainly would not have been possible without your financial and creative input.

We would like to acknowledge and sincerely thank all our guides for giving of their time so generously, for free, and also all the venues for opening their doors for free. For a city which has its share of controversial planning decisions it is so encouraging to meet with local enthusiastic people excited about their work, their buildings, projects and the city’s built environment.

We are really fortunate to have a great team of volunteers to help guide our audiences throughout the weekend. The festival couldn’t happen without your interest and professionalism and we are very grateful.

We would also like to acknowledge and thank our core funder the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and of course Open House Worldwide, who have welcomed Belfast into this growing international series of events celebrating our urban spaces.